Low Sodium Diet for Dogs: A Healthy Food Choice for Your Doggy

Did you know that an adult dog requires only 0.17g of sodium (per 1000kcal) in a day? 

That’s right! An overabundance of salt will cause excess sodium in their blood, causing hypernatremia, a condition in which cells have an imbalance of electrolytes. In mild conditions, it could cause overheating or dehydration. If serious, it could be fatal. Here are some tips for dog owners who need to put their dogs on a low sodium diet. 

Healthy Food ChoicePhoto by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

How can I lower my dog’s sodium? 

The immediate way to lower your pet’s sodium level is to stop serving salty treats and stick to low sodium dog food. You can vary salt levels from moderate (0.2%) to higher reduction (more than 0.25%). For dogs with congestive heart failure (CHF), sodium levels should be lowered to 0.1%. 

Your veterinarian may recommend reducing your canine’s sodium intake if it has any kind of heart, kidney or liver disease. These diseases are more prevalent in senior dogs. Healthy dogs who can regulate their salt levels do not require a reduced or low sodium diet. 

Factors to consider when choosing low sodium dog food

No dogs are the same so consider these factors when choosing low sodium dog food.

Type of food

Low sodium dry dog food

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guideline states that the minimum sodium required for an adult dog is 0.08%and 0.3% for a canine in its growth and reproduction stage. Kibbles that contain sodium slightly below this range are considered as low sodium. 

You can check the sodium level on the dry dog food packaging to determine if it matches the low sodium dog food criteria.  

Low sodium wet dog food

Wet dog food has low sodium thanks to its moisture content. It helps to dissolve the salt content in the food. This also makes it easier for your dog with teeth or mouth conditions to chew. However, it tends to have higher fat and protein than dry dog food. 

Age and size

Older dogs may require low sodium diets because they are more prone to suffer from muscle or nerve issues. Excessive sodium can cause movement restrictions and pain in dogs. Lowering their sodium intake can help to avoid the worsening of these conditions and overcome present signs. 

Overweight dogs may experience difficulty absorbing salt, causing water retention. As a result, a low sodium diet is necessary. Healthy puppies and dogs with normal weight should continue with their usual diet. 

Flavor and nutritional value

While the majority of dogs do not mind the texture or taste of food with low sodium, you may need to try a few types if your dog is a picky eater 

A balanced diet is vital for your dog to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Ensure that the low sodium food contains high quality protein, fatty acids, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Petcubes’ dog food collection can cater to your dog’s need for a nutritious and balanced diet. 

Ingredients to avoid in a low sodium diet for dogs

If your dog needs a low sodium diet, here are some foods and ingredients that you should avoid:

Artificial additives

Artificial additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial colourings, dye, and flavorings may contain high levels of sodium. This may cause harm to your dog and do not contain any nutritional value. 

Sodium Nitrate

Sodium nitrate is a preservative used in processed foods like ham, jerky, and bacon. It contains a high level of salt that can elevate your dog’s sodium level.

Human processed food

Many foods that we eat, for example, bacon, pizza and potato chips have high processed sugar and salt that are not healthy for canines. 

High sodium dog treats

Many dog treats on the market contain high levels of sodium. Ensure that the treats you give your dog do not contain too much salt by checking nutrition and ingredient labels before purchasing. 

Low sodium dog foods for high blood pressure

When your dog has high blood pressure (hypertension), its blood vessels constrict and become too narrow to support the increased blood flow pressure and may therefore burst. The best dog food for heart health contains low sodium that can help to maintain its blood pressure and prevent such issues. 

Low sodium diets can aid in fending off heart problems such as congestive heart failure (CHF) and strokes. 

Low sodium dog foods for weight loss  

The best low sodium foods for weight loss should not only be low in sodium, it should also be low in fat and calories and contain high quality protein. This ensures that your dog does not put on weight due to extra calories while ensuring it still has sufficient protein to build and maintain its muscle mass. 

Highly processed foods also tend to have a higher sodium content compared to raw, natural foods. To avoid the unnecessary extra sodium intake from processed food, make sure that you check the nutritional facts on the packaging before feeding it to your dog. 

If your pup needs to lose some weight, you can read more about getting it on a suitable diet plan for overweight dogs here.  

Low sodium human food for dogs

  • Peeled bananas are low in cholesterol and sodium. However, do not overfeed because it contains high levels of natural sugars.
  • Cheese such as cottage cheese and mozzarella are good sources of calcium and protein. Select cheese with low sodium and fat levels. 
  • Fresh chickpeas or garbanzo beans can be served to dogs but avoid canned ones which have excessive sodium. They contain Vitamin B, C, protein, fiber, potassium, folate, and magnesium. 
  • Plain couscous is low in sodium. The selenium in it may aid in preventing cancer. Other nutrients include fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Do serve in moderation
  • Fresh green beans with no added salt are helpful in weight management. It contains calcium, protein, fiber, as well as vitamins A, B6, C and K. 

Conclusion

Not sure how to choose the best low sodium dog food? Always look at the guarantee analysis labelling. Most products will state the minimum percentage levels for minerals such as sodium, phosphorus, and calcium. Note that the level of salt is lower in wet food due to its moisture content between 75% to 78% as compared to dry food moisture of approximately 10% to 12%. Ideally, check with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

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