Can Dogs Have Salt?

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Introduction

It's hard to resist your those big, puppy-dog eyes when your doggo looks at you while you're snacking. You probably want nothing more than to give your dog a delicious dose of whatever you're eating, but before you do, take a look at what you're munching on. 

Are you eating a delicious, but salty snack? If so, sharing this treat with your pup simply isn't on the menu. While a little exposure to salt likely won't hurt your dog, it's possible that they'll quickly get dehydrated, which can lead to a whole myriad of other issues. Aside from that, too much salt can lead to awful things like sodium ion poisoning, and even death in extreme cases!

Are you curious how to tell if your dog has gotten into the salt? Do you want to be aware of the signs to look out for when it comes to sodium ion poisoning? Check out our guide below to get a better glimpse at why salt can be harmful to your doggo. 

Signs Your Dog has had Too Much Salt

As a general rule, salt isn't the worst thing your dog can accidentally get his or her paws on, but it's definitely not something you'll want them to include in their diet. That means, unfortunately, not sharing some of the most delicious human treats with your pup is the safe way to go. 

Just like anything in excess is bad for humans, the same is true for dogs - the issue is, their excess is a bit less than ours. While the dog food you feed your pup probably does contain sodium, that's about the limit your dog's body is able to tolerate. Any more, and they'll probably start to have a few issues. 

If your dog has had too much salt, either by accident or by you feeding them excessive amounts, you'll first notice that your dog is probably incredibly thirsty. This means that the salt your dog has been ingesting has been dehydrating them. Salt absorbs water in the body, so look for signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or seizures - these are all tell-tale signs of sodium ion poisoning, which can be a very serious condition for your dog. 

If your dog has too much salt, it's possible that his or her organs and systems can stop functioning efficiently, making them incredibly sick. Always take your dog to the vet for proper replenishment of fluids and treatment if you suspect they've ingested a lot of salt.

Body Language

Here are a few signs to look out for if you think your dog is suffering from an overload of salt:
  • Alert
  • Panting
  • Raise ears
  • Lip licking
  • Raspy panting
  • Lack of focus
  • Back hair on edge
  • Pupils dilated

Other Signs

There are other, more obvious signs, that your dog might give you if they're dealing with salt related issues, such as:
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to move
  • Diarrhea

The History of Salt in Dog Food

Historically, the food that dogs eat has contained a certain amount of salt - including the commercial dog food that you feed your dog today! You might be wondering how this is safe when we've been discussing the dangers of sodium ion poisoning in your dog. 

It's been proven by vets that sodium is an essential mineral for your dog's life. Sodium is found in the fluid that surrounds the cells in your dog's body, as well as in their blood. This surrounding sodium helps to maintain the cellular environment and to help prevent your dog's cells from swelling or dehydrating.

Over time, vets and dog food experts began adding in appropriate amounts of sodium in order to help dogs maintain proper nerve and muscle cell function. In fact, the Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends that dry dog food contain at least .3 percent of sodium for both maintenance and normal growth and development for your dog. 

However, sodium in dog food is not strictly regulated, so it's important to keep an eye on the levels of sodium yourself so you know how much sodium your dog is ingesting. Too much is possible, and it's dangerous if left unmonitored.

The Science Behind Salt and Dogs

Salt, or sodium chloride, is a white, crystalline substance that's used to add flavor to food, preserve food, and is a big part of the makeup of seawater. Humans use salt every day, and while it can be a bad choice for our health, it's typically an okay substance for us to eat. 

Dogs, on the other hand, should likely stay away from excessive amounts of salt. Salt is interesting because it plays a pivotal function in both human and canine bodies. Salt can exist in our bodies at moderate levels and do us little harm, but overindulging, even slightly, can throw off body chemistry. 

Because dog bodies - and human bodies, are made up of water, and because salt absorbs water, too much will cause your pup to become incredibly thirsty or will damage their kidneys, organs, and other systems. Typically, when your dog ingests too much salt, they'll be dehydrated, causing them to drink more water quickly and urinate quickly as well, leaving their bodies struggling to process the salt fast enough. 

Training Your Dog to Stay Away from Salt

Salt is a delicious, tasty addition to a lot of human foods, so it only makes sense that you'd want to keep it in your house. Unfortunately, this leaves the chance for your dog to get curious, sniff out some salt (and believe us, they'll definitely smell it), and get their paws on it for a taste. 

While a touch of salt isn't likely to hurt your dog too much, it's easy for your dog to overindulge, and too much salt can be incredibly dangerous for your poor pooch. So, that being said, it's important that you train your dog to leave the salt be. 

We suggest starting this training process by ensuring that you're not leaving any salt out on the table, the counter, or anywhere your dog can access it. You'll be training your dog to avoid it, but why tempt the poor thing, right? 

Once your salt is all stashed away, it's important for your dog to have a good grasp on basic obedience commands. This way, your dog will know that a firm "no" or "leave it" from you means business. This will come in handy if you happen to find your pup with his or her paws all over the salt shaker. 

In addition, we suggest training your dog to stay out of the area where you keep your salt, whether that be your kitchen, your pantry, or any other area. Just as people train their pups to stay off the furniture, you can train your dog to know that wandering into a room he or she isn't allowed to go won't be tolerated. 

Reward your dog when they avoid following you into the kitchen and punish your pup safely and accordingly when they do wander into the kitchen. Finally, one of the best ways to ensure there are no accidental salt overdoses is to crate train your dog so that he or she will be entirely safe when you're out and about and be unable to get into anything that might harm them.

Safety Tips for Keeping Salt Around Dogs:

  • Don't feed your dog human food or table scraps.
  • Check the sodium levels on the commercial dog food you're feeding your dog.
  • Discuss a low-sodium dog food with your vet.
  • Store your salt in an area your dog cannot access it.

We Want to Hear About Your Dog's Experiences with Salt!