Salt Poisoning in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Salt Poisoning in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Salt Poisoning in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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.

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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
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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
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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.

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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.

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Worried about the cost of Salt Poisoning treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

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.

Salt poisoning in dogs can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog is at risk of salt poisoning, start searching for pet insurance today. Wag!’s pet insurance comparison tool lets you compare plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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Salt Poisoning Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$5,000

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Salt Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Mini doberman

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Two Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

I gave my dog salami and he started throwing up. What should I do at home to get him better?

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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terrier

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Five Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

i gave my dog salt throw up after she got in to raisins, she is a 20lb dog and i gave her 4 teaspoons of salt total. with further research salt can be toxic as well, what should i do. she threw up the raisins and all that. should i be concerned now about salt poisoning

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 23, 2020

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Salt Poisoning Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$5,000

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