Prepare for unexpected vet bills

Youtube Play

What is Salt Poisoning?

In most cases, if your dog consumes too much salt, he will drink water to combat the effects and no damage will be done. However, if there is no water available to your dog, or if your dog ingested an extreme amount of salt in a short time, the cells in the body will start to release water to even out the levels of salt in the blood. This causes the destruction of brain cells due to the lack of water, creating neurological symptoms like dizziness, headache, and seizures. The most often reported reasons for salt poisoning in dogs is ingestion of homemade play dough, ornaments, rock salt, or table salt. It can also be caused by a lack of fresh water, frozen water sources, or a malfunctioning automatic waterer.

Too much salt in the blood (hypernatremia) can cause the muscles to lose moisture, shrivel, and become stiff, which will create shaking and jerking. The most serious symptoms of salt poisoning are neurological. Some of those symptoms are convulsions, coma, and death. Sodium chloride causes the brain cells to dry out due to the release of water from the cells used to dilute the salt in the bloodstream. Dehydration is imminent without the opportunity to drink enough fresh water, which brings more serious effects: fast heartbeat, fainting, confusion, and difficulty breathing. If you think your dog has ingested a large amount of salt, call your veterinarian whether your dog shows any signs or not.

Although salt (sodium) is a natural substance that your dog’s body needs, too much can cause serious illness or even be fatal. Sodium toxicity is caused by sodium chloride, which is used to maintain the levels of water in the body; an essential part of your dog’s metabolic system.

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
advertisement image

Salt Poisoning Average Cost

From 68 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$5,000

Symptoms of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

There are many signs of salt poisoning in dogs, which may be neurological, gastrointestinal, or even cardiovascular. The most common signs are extreme thirst and urination, which are what may save your dog’s life if there is plenty of fresh water to drink. This is because the water dilutes the salt in the blood, and it is cleansed from the body in the urine. The signs of salt poisoning most often reported are:

  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Death
  • Extreme thirst and urination
  • Fluid buildup
  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizures
  • Stomach pains
  • Tongue swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Walking like intoxicated
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Weakness
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

A large amount of salt in your dog’s blood can cause sodium poisoning if your dog eats enough of it and has no fresh water to drink. These are some of the ways your dog can get sodium poisoning:

  • Frozen water source
  • Broken automatic waterer

Also the consumption of many items that may be found around the home can cause salt poisoning.

  • Homemade play dough or ornaments
  • Ocean water
  • Paintballs
  • Rock salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Table salt
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

A thorough physical examination will be done, which will include checking your dog’s reflexes, temperature, pulse rate, weight, height, reflexes, blood pressure, respirations, and a quick vision and hearing test. Bring any medical records you have, including your dog’s vaccination records, illness and injury information, and describe any abnormal behavior or appetite. Explain to your veterinarian what you believe your dog consumed, how much, and how long it has been since consumption. List the signs you have seen that brought you to the veterinarian in the first place and when they started.

The tests your veterinarian will need to perform are complete blood count, blood gases, and blood chemistry, and a urinalysis to check your dog’s sodium level. A complete cardiac examination may be recommended as well. This might include an electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure the electrical impulses in your dog’s heart, radiographs (x-rays), MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound to determine the extent of the damage to your dog’s brain, heart, and lungs.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

Your dog will likely be admitted to the hospital for oxygen, IV fluid therapy, and electrolytes to manage dehydration. The salt level will have to be brought down gradually because a sudden change in sodium levels can cause a heart attack or cerebral edema (brain swelling). It can take days to bring the levels down to an acceptable range depending on how high your dog’s sodium levels are. If cerebral edema is already present, your dog may be given a medication such as dexamethasone or mannitol to reduce the inflammation. The veterinarian will most likely keep your dog in the hospital for observation. Curious about which health plan is right for your dog? Head over to Forbes' breakdown of the best pet insurance providers.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

Your veterinarian will probably suggest a diet low in sodium, and this is important to keep the level of sodium in your dog’s blood under control. You may need to return in for a follow-up blood test to recheck sodium levels. If there is no sign of hypernatremia, your dog’s prognosis is good as long as there is no damage to the brain, heart, or liver.  Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and continue to take your dog for annual check-ups.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Salt Poisoning Average Cost

From 68 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$5,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Salt Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Boykin Spaniel

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy

1 year old 49 lb Boykin spaniel ate entire 10 OZ/284 gm can of chicken off of counter while I was helping elderly mother in other part of house yesterday. Now Boykin is lethargic, vomiting a little, not drinking water, but will eat ice chips. I’m worried because the lethargy is so out of character and she ingested large amount of sodium. Her stool is normal.

Sept. 7, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear this. He does sound very unwell and we would consider e.g pancreatitis, gastroenteritis or something else. If there were bones, he may have an obstruction. Given his symptoms, a vet visit is best. They will examine him and may run some tests such as a blood test and abdominal scan. Treatment will depend on what is going on and may include e.g fluids, an anti nausea injection and ant acids.

Sept. 7, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

7 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Our dog got into holiday candy the other day And we did the salt method by throwing salt down her throat to have her throw up. It worked and we thought everything was fine. A couple Days later on Christmas we figured we’d treat her with some Mcdonald’s nuggets and fries since she rarely ever gets human food. She is about 86 lbs and ate about 8 nuggets and maybe a medium McDonald’s fry worth. Later on she was vomiting a lot and going to #2 5 times throughout the night and morning. It’s been a whole day She hasn’t ate and has continued to throw up water she drinks. Any help on what to do

Dec. 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

7 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear she is unwell. There are several potential causes for vomiting and reduced appetite including kidney disease, liver disease, toxin ingestion pancrdatitis etc. Her symptoms may or may not have to do with the recent things she has eaten. Given what you have said, she does need to see a vet as if she isn't able to hold water down she is at risk of dehydration. Hopefully she is feeling better very soon.

Dec. 27, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

Salt Poisoning Average Cost

From 68 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$5,000

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

advertisement image
ask a vet placeholder
Need pet insurance?