Can Dogs Eat Salt?
Excess salt and salty foods are not recommended for dogs.
Humans love salty foods like French fries, potato chips, pretzels, and we even add additional salt to boost the flavor. But are these salty snacks okay for dogs to chow down on? While we use salt in (or on) almost everything, it’s actually not that great for dogs. Furthermore, salt in large quantities (called “salt poisoning”) can cause dehydration, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
Dogs naturally need sodium as part of an electrolyte balance, so small amounts of salt aren’t bad for your dog. Like most living things, dogs need salt to help balance fluids and keep nerves functioning properly. Most dog food you purchase has sodium in it, either naturally occurring from ingredients in the food, or through added salt. So, salt, in moderation, is not bad for your dog. In excess, however, it can lead to serious health complications and even death.
How Much Salt Is Okay?
Ask your vet about how much salt is okay for your pup. Some websites say that a pup cannot survive more than 1.5 grams per pound of body weight, as this is a lethal amount – any more than this could kill them. And while every dog is different, you shouldn’t try to reach this limit, ever – this is the absolute maximum, should there be a salt shaker spill and your dog accidentally eats it.
If your dog has eaten too much salt, the first signs include consuming a lot of water. They may seem overly tired and have a swollen stomach. If your dog has had an excessive amount of salt, you’ll notice they suddenly become very stiff – their muscles have lost moisture. If left untreated, salt poisoning can lead to death. Other symptoms include:
- Swelling or fluid accumulation
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Tremors & seizures
If you believe that your dog might have salt poisoning, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately. You’ll need to know about how much salt was ingested, as well as your dog’s size and weight, and their usual diet. If the salt poisoning is severe, your dog will need to be taken to an emergency veterinary hospital. Typical diagnostics and treatment include IV fluids, monitoring electrolytes, and checking for dehydration and even brain swelling. The treatment can take up to three full days to bring sodium levels to normal.
Curious about what is okay (and not so okay) for your dog to munch on? Check out our other articles on what human foods are safe for dogs.