5 Scary Signs of Salt Toxicity In Dogs That You Need to Know to Protect Your Pooch

Salt toxicity in dogs can be extremely dangerous, but there are ways to identify the scary symptoms.

salt toxicity in dogs

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.

2. Vomiting

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.

4. Diarrhea

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.

5. Seizures

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:

The beach

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.

Rock salt

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.


Side note: Do you run a business in the pet industry? Would you like to drive more traffic and sales to your site through a search-optimized pet blog? Get in touch with my office-mates at Lantern Content Marketing!

About Napa 'ze Dog

My name is Napa and I'm the Lantern Content Marketing Adventure Company office dog. They create content for business blogs, so I do my part by blogging about pet stuff. My favorite topic is poop! Since you asked, I'm an F2B Miniature Goldendoodle. Everything else you want to know about me is right over here!

3 comments on “5 Scary Signs of Salt Toxicity In Dogs That You Need to Know to Protect Your Pooch

  1. Years ago i took my doberman to the beach.
    I cant walk her as i have back issues.
    She has a doberman playmate who i left at home.
    Hours after we got home she started vomiting and had very bad diahrea which squirted out.
    Our dogs are kept in the back garden and have no contact with other dogs.
    The next morning i took her straight to the vet.
    I was told many tests needed to be done and she needed hospitalisation.
    I was told it was 99% a rare parvo as our dogs are always up to date with immunisation.
    She was kept in vet hospital for 2 wks and she survived and was back to normal.
    Today i read about the poor dog in u.s. which died of salt water poisoning.
    My dog spent hours swimming and playing in the warm clear tidal flat beach i took her to.
    I just decided to read about how long parvo takes to take effect etc in dogs.
    From a few days to 10 days.
    Looking back now i think i was absolutely ripped off by the vet as it was less than an hr after getting back from the beach that she became so ill.
    I think after now doing this reading tonight re saltwater poisoning that that is what my dog had.
    We were very happy she survived.
    I have paid big vet bills before eg. made a mistake of having 2 female dobermans being an older one and a 9 mth old one.Once she got to about 2 yr old a horrific fight occured.
    Huge vet bill but i learnt and our dogs are our family so we dont care about cost no matter how high.
    This was a different vet as it was long ago but they wanted to amputate 1 of the dogs ear to which i said no and a week later everything healed fine.
    1 week in the vet hospital re ear cut etc $1700.That was fine as she kept her ear.To amputate was going to be approx $2700+.
    We save her ear and $1000+.
    For the 2 weeks hospital etc etc re the..Its a rare parvo which now i know 100% it was saltwater poisoning it cost $3200.
    The important thing is she survived.
    The disgraceful thing is that i,a disability support pensioner got ripped off big time.
    She lived 10 more yrs then died in her sleep.R.I.P. Tyra,we still miss you so much.Motto of the story…and ive heard of so many cases…beware of vets and do your homework like i should of done as ones emotions can be taken advantage of.
    We lost our beloved Woofy at also 14 yr of age 2 yrs ago.They wanted to do all these other tests after about $1200 spent as he couldnt keep water or food down.They,the vets kept giving us hope and faith.Then i researched the symptoms and found it was a totally uncurable illness where the esophagus loses all its use.The illness is called Megaesophagus.I confronted the vet and directly said..what do you think it is that my dog is suffering from ? He replied it could be many things,we need more tests,xrays,barium meal scans etc.I said,my dog has Megaesophagus in my opinion and in my brothers who is a doctor.What % do you as a vet think that my dog has this disease which is incurable and at 14yrs of age impossible to manage.Younger dogs if one has time,love and patience can be managed by using a Bailey chair.I looked him in the eyes and said that i/we were sure our Woofy had no chance of survival as he had Megaesophagus.I said please give me your honest professional opinion based on tests done and all symptoms.He said he agreed.We took our beloved Woofy home for the night,hydrated him with gelatine and salf free chicken stock and stayed with him all night on his bed in our lounge.
    I had already arranged to have him put down the next day.It was one of the hardest things in my life as i cuddled,kissed,patted him…cried uncontrolably and kept saying sorry to him but it was cruel to let him suffer more.R.I.P Woofy.We miss you so much and will never forget you for being such a good boy and such a great companion to mum,86 yr old lady who you kept company and gave her so much love for so many yrs.God Bless x

  2. We have been walking on wet treated roads for 3 days, this morning, my Boston had a terrible seizure and my Pom has a horrible rash on his belly…..I have come to the conclusion that maybe the salted roads are the culprit!!!

  3. Our 11-week old family puppy ingested a little bit of our pool water with a lot of salt in it. He is drinking normally and is walking fine. Although he had diarrhea only once and threw up twice, we are still concerned.

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