3 min read

Chloride for Dogs


By Adam Lee-Smith

Published: 10/13/2023, edited: 10/13/2023

Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

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Chloride is an important electrolyte that exists within the body with sodium. It forms a part of several compounds, including sodium chloride (table salt) and choline chloride. Chloride is one of the most common electrolytes in a dog's body, along with potassium, sodium, and calcium. Read on to find out more about the importance and effect chloride has on your dog.


Chloride is essential to a dog's regular bodily function. Ways in which chloride is beneficial to dogs include:

  • Aiding the heart and nervous systems
  • Helps metabolism function
  • Balances the body's pH levels
  • Regulates the types and amount of nutrients entering and leaving cells

The minimum recommended daily chloride intake for dogs is between 0.15g and 0.17g per 100g of dry food matter, depending on a dog's maintenance energy requirements (MER). This figure rises to 0.33g per 100g for dogs in early and late-stage growth.

plate of shrimp - Chloride for Dogs

Food sources

Dogs receive all the chloride they need from their food and water. Information and studies on dogs' developing naturally occurring chloride deficiencies are limited. Sources of chloride for dogs include meats, fish and vegetables, such as:

Always consult your vet before switching your dog onto a new diet with a higher chloride content.

Signs of chloride deficiency in dogs

Chloride deficiencies, known medically as hypochloremia, are usually associated with a change in sodium concentration within the body. Hypochloremia is rare and not well-described or documented. Possible symptoms of hypochloremia in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased/decreased urination

Treatment for chloride deficiency in dogs

Low sodium levels in a dog's diet can cause chloride deficiencies, but it's rare. In theory, mild chloride deficiency in dogs can be treated by introducing chloride-rich foods. Your vet may recommend a change in diet if your dog has hypochloremia, for example, adding more beef to your dog's food.

Hypochloremia can result from sustained periods of vomiting, leading to dehydration. A small dose of baking soda can help relieve nausea in dogs, preventing them from continued vomiting. Consult your vet before giving your dog baking soda. In some cases, your vet may recommend intravenous fluids to rehydrate your dog. 

Usually, a chloride deficiency is linked to an underlying health condition. Common health conditions linked to hypochloremia include chronic heart disease and Addison's disease. Loop diuretic medications like furosemide can cause hypochloremia.

sick yellow Labrador Retriever being examined by veterinarian

Signs of high chloride levels in dogs

A chloride overdose, or hyperchloremia, is connected to a change in your dog's blood sodium levels, similar to hypochloremia. Signs of high chloride levels in a dog's blood include: 

  • Increased thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

Treatment for high chloride levels in dogs

The ingestion of high levels of chloride rarely causes hyperchloremia in dogs. 

Hyperchloremia is often caused by long bouts of diarrhea and/or vomiting or a lack of access to water. Intravenous fluids to balance the levels of electrolytes in the body is a common treatment for mild hyperchloremia.

Underlying health conditions are a common cause of hyperchloremia. Common causes include diabetes, kidney disease, and hormonal diseases. Your vet will run blood tests, urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile to discover the cause of your dog's hyperchloremia.

Some medications, like certain NSAIDs (meloxicam and carprofen), potassium bromide, and ammonium chloride, can raise chloride levels in a dog's blood.

small white and brown dog getting a pill

Chloride supplements for dogs

Dogs rarely suffer from hypochloremia due to a lack of chloride in their diets. Therefore, chloride supplements aren't needed for dogs. Normally, treatment for low or high chloride levels in a dog's blood is intravenous fluids to balance electrolytes. 

Chloride is one of the most abundant electrolytes in a dog's body, aiding with key functions like metabolizing food, heart function, and balancing the body's pH levels. 

An imbalance of electrolytes in a dog's body can be a serious condition resulting from a loss of fluids or an underlying health concern. Dietary intake is rarely the cause of a chloride imbalance. 

If your vet detects your dog has hyperchloremia or hypochloremia, they will likely administer intravenous fluids to balance the chloride levels in your dog's blood. They may also run several tests to see if your dog has an underlying health condition.

Health conditions related to a chloride imbalance can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today

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