Salt toxicity in dogs can be extremely dangerous, but there are ways to identify the scary symptoms.
Most dog people know it’s frowned upon to share human food with their furry pals. As much as we love it, it’s just not healthy, and it can cause a myriad of health issues. Besides the typical culprits such as onions, grapes, and chocolate, did you know that salt can be one of the most toxic things dogs could ingest? Well, it is, and salt toxicity in dogs is a real threat that affects thousands of my furry friends each year.
Salt toxicity, otherwise known as Hypernatremia, is a condition in which sodium levels are elevated, due to an increase in salt or a loss in water intake. When a dog’s sodium levels reach abnormally high levels, their body reacts, and if you don’t catch the symptoms, your pup could be in grave danger.
Dogs are very much like humans, in that they need electrolytes to help their body function. When sodium levels are high, electrolyte levels fall, and it can have some significant health effects.
These are some of the worst symptoms of salt toxicity in dogs, but please call your vet if you have questions. After all, I am just a friend and not a medical expert.
5 Scary Signs of Salt Toxicity in Dogs You Need to Know to Protect Your Pooch:
1. Extremes in water consumption
Has your dog stopped drinking altogether or are they perpetually at the water bowl? Chances are, a major change in their drinking habits is a clue that something isn’t quite right. Closely monitor how much they are drinking, and if you suspect something is off, have them checked out. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Along with dehydration and changes in water consumption, vomiting is one of the early symptoms of salt toxicity in dogs. In the past veterinarians would use salt to induce vomiting, but the other risks outweighed the benefits. According to the ASPCA, “Too much salt can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.” It’s been since discovered that small amounts of 3% hydrogen peroxide work better, but it’s never a good idea to try this method on your own without calling your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435).
3. Lethargic or “drunk” behavior
When a dog is experiencing salt toxicity, their electrolyte levels drop. Electrolytes help with nerve and muscle function, they help deliver oxygen to the body, and they provide phosphorous, which is necessary to help the body absorb nutrients. Without those electrolytes your dog may start acting tired or even wobbly like they’ve had a few too many beers. Breathing can become abnormal, muscle strength and heart rate decrease, and neurological issues may arise.
Although this one seems obvious, it can turn bad quickly. Since salt toxicity in dogs starts in the gut, the body is going to try to rid itself of this poison. When a dog has acute diarrhea, they are at risk of becoming even more dehydrated, and you don’t want to ignore this serious symptom. Dehydration combined with low electrolytes can cause lethal damage to your pooch if untreated.
I think the scariest symptom of salt toxicity is seizures. While a seizure may only last 30-90 seconds, it can be frightening to watch your dog experience it.
If your dog is having a seizure, make sure they aren’t in harm’s way. If you do have to move your pup, the best way to do it is by their hind legs. Try to prevent them from hitting their head on a hard surface, which could injure them further. They could also bite their tongue, foam at the mouth, or even lose bowel functions, so be prepared for that possibility. Once your dog is stable, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Just to be clear, it’s not just food that can cause salt toxicity in dogs. Look out for these other risks:
A long day in the sun, large consumptions of ocean water, and lack of clean, fresh water can put your dog in danger. To ensure a fun day, make sure to monitor your dog carefully to limit saltwater intake. Also, keep plenty of cold, clean water on hand, and make sure you offer it throughout the day.
Salt dough ornaments or play dough
Your kids love them, and your dog does too, but their high sodium content makes them a terrible thing to ingest. Prevent consumption by monitoring playtime, and when you’re done, make sure they are out of your dog’s way.
I get that you want to reduce fall risks during the icy months, but consider that your dog most likely does not have winter boots, so everything they walk in sticks to their paws. Your dog then ingests everything when they clean themselves, making this an easy way to end up with salt toxicity. When you choose rock salt, look for a pet-safe version. It’s also a good idea to wash your pup’s paws when you come back from a walk. This can help limit what they ingest.
Salt toxicity is a real threat to dogs, and now you that you have an idea of what to look for you can significantly reduce their risk of getting sick. If you are ever unsure by your dog’s behavior, it’s a good idea to give your vet a call and have them checked out.
Have you ever witnessed salt toxicity in dogs? Share your experience in the comments.
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