Dog Tips

Salt Poisoning in Dogs

For the Bollywood fans reading this, there’s a very popular dialogue from the movie ‘Sholay’ – “Sarkar, maine aapka namak khaya hai.”; which translates to – ‘Master, I’ve eaten your salt.’ This dialogue intends to say ‘I’ve eaten your salt and hence I will be loyal to you.’ Now the reason for your dog’s loyalty towards you also could be the same – they’ve eaten your salt. But who knew that this very salt could even be poisonous for your dog?

Okay, we know we are over-dramatizing this. But salt poisoning in dogs is real and common. Sodium is something that almost all animals, including humans, need for day-to-day functioning as it is an essential electrolyte in the body. Salt is the most common source of it. However, excess salt intake can cause severe problems for dogs and in extreme cases can even be fatal. 

Dog Salt Overdose

Here are some possible ways your dog may end up ingesting too much salt – 

  • Salt water – Your dog can end up drinking too much salt water, probably at the beach.

  • Toys – Homemade playdough or salt dough can also be risky at times if the dog ends up ingesting them.

  • Paintballs - Most paintballs are slightly more than a half-inch in diameter, making them small enough to be swallowed easily.

  • Table salt – If there’s salt fallen on the dining table and your dog ends up licking a lot of it, it may cause problems. The same is the case with soy sauce. 

  • Salty foods – Chips, pretzels, or any other kinds of foods that are seasoned with salt can cause problems for your dog if ingested in heavy quantities.

  • No fresh water – Lack of access to fresh water causes sodium imbalance in the dog’s body.

But what exactly happens when a dog ingests too much salt?

Dog Salt Toxicity

Sodium or salt toxicity is caused by sodium chloride, which is used to maintain the levels of water in the body. It is an essential part of the dog’s metabolism system. When there is excess sodium chloride in the bloodstream, the brain cells release water to dilute it. This causes dehydration in the body. Because of this, the muscles lose moisture and hence shrivel and become stiff. This in return can cause shaking and jerking. 

The amount of salt required to cause poisoning in dogs depends on the size of the dog. Salt toxicosis can occur when a dog eats as little as two to three grams of sodium chloride for every kilogram of body weight. (1) That means a toy breed like a Shitzu or a Yorkshire Terrier could become ill after eating less than a teaspoon, whereas a giant breed like a Great Dane would have to consume over four tablespoons to see the effects. 

So, how do you identify salt poisoning in dogs?

Symptoms of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

The most common symptoms of salt poisoning in dogs reported are – 

  • Vomiting

  • Watery Diarrhea

  • Refusal to eat

  • Lethargy

  • High fever

  • Extreme thirst or urination

  • Tongue swelling

  • Increased heart rate

  • Nausea

  • Lack of coordination

In extreme cases, the following severe symptoms are also possible – 

  • Tremors or seizures

  • Respiratory distress

  • Fluid buildup

  • Coma

Salt poisoning in dogs has also resulted in death in some cases. 

What to Do in Case of Dog Sodium Poisoning

Now that we know that sodium poisoning can be extremely harmful to dogs, as caring pet parents, we need to ensure its prevention. But if the dog is already showing any of the above signs, we recommend you immediately consult a vet.

The vet may conduct any or a combination of the below tests to detect the condition. (2)

  • Blood tests

  • Ultrasound

  • X-Rays

  • Urinalysis

  • Dietary Analysis

  • Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid

However, as a primary action, you can provide fresh water to the dog. But do remember not to offer too much water. Any type of rapid treatment can cause swelling in their brains. It can also cause vomiting. 

Salt Poisoning Treatment for Dogs

Once the poisoning is identified in the dog, your vet may resort to the following treatment options.

  • Medications – To control the symptoms like seizures, fever, vomiting, etc. the vet may administer some medicines.

  • Hospitalization – In case of severe poisoning, the vet may recommend hospitalizing the dog for close monitoring. 

  • Fluids – Intravenous fluids are one of the primary treatments for salt toxicity. They help reduce the concentration of sodium in the blood and rehydrate the dog. 

Some people may suggest inducing vomiting at home can help eliminate the salt from the dog’s body. But it is recommended that you do so only under a vet’s guidance. 

Preventing Salt Poisoning in Dogs

As they say, prevention is the best cure. There are multiple things you can take care of to prevent salt poisoning in your dog. These include – 

  • Avoid swimming in saltwater bodies.

  • Keep a close eye on the dog when they are playing with items like playdough.

  • Do not keep salt or any other salty item like snacks, soy sauce, etc. in the open within the dog’s reach.

  • Clean your dog’s paws after a walk, especially during winter months.

  • And the most important one is to always keep fresh water accessible to your four-legged buddy. 

More About Spot Pet Insurance

Salt Toxicosis may occur with 2-3 g/kg of sodium chloride ingestion. Consumption of 4 g/kg can even be fatal. Small dog breeds like Pug, Chihuahua, Dachshund, Pomeranian, Maltese, etc. are more prone to this condition. 

Dog Insurance can help provide financial assistance for eligible veterinary care in case of unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries. Our pet insurance plans can help pet parents manage the eligible costs of covered veterinary care and help ensure that their pets can receive the best treatment possible. Here are some ways that Spot pet insurance plans can help:

  • Covers Unexpected Veterinary Costs: Spot pet insurance plans cover the eligible costs of unexpected veterinary treatments, such as emergency surgeries, X-rays, and prescription medications for covered conditions.

  • Customizable Plans: Choose your annual limit, reimbursement rate, and deductible from a range of options, and create the plan that will fit the needs of your pet and your budget. 

  • Peace of Mind: With Spot pet insurance plans, pet parents can know that they can provide the best care for their pet with less worry about the cost.

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  1. Storey. (2023, April 25). Salt - American College of Veterinary Pharmacists. American College of Veterinary Pharmacists.!form/PPCDonations

  2. Ricard, M., & Ricard, M. (2024, April 8). Salt poisoning in dogs. Vetster Online Vets.

  3. Thompson, L. J. (2022, May 9). Salt toxicosis in animals. MSD Veterinary Manual.

  4. Tuipulotu, T. (2024, January 3). Understanding salt toxicity in dogs - Animal Emergency Service. After Hours Vet Australia.

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