We all know that too much sodium in our diets can cause us problems with our health, but is it the same for dogs? Well, to a certain extent it is.
Dogs do need to have sodium in their diets as it stops their cells from swelling and dehydrating. In addition, salt helps to maintain nerve and muscle cell function.
If dogs take in more sodium than needed, they usually pass it when they urinate.
However, as dogs get older, they are prone to ill health. Too much sodium in their diets can cause heart problems as well as kidney and liver disease.
On the other hand, not all senior dogs suffer from these ailments. In this case a low sodium diet won’t do them any good, quite the reverse in fact.
My name’s Irena and I had a wonderful dog called Portia who developed heart problems. As well as medication, I put her on a low sodium diet which I’m sure helped to extend her life span.
What is a Low Sodium Diet?
A low sodium diet is exactly what it says it is. It’s a diet which has less salt in it and there are many products out there which fit the bill. You can even make homemade meals for your pups.
There are many benefits of a low sodium diet. It can help to control high blood pressure which is common with heart disease. It can also stop the accumulation of excessive fluid in the body.
What Levels of Sodium Should Dogs Have?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials has said that dry dog food should contain at least 0.3% sodium, but most dog food contains between 0.35% and 0.5%. For healthy dogs this is generally fine.
However, if your dogs have a health problem such as congestive heart failure, their salt intake should be lowered to 0.2%. If they have advanced heart failure, it should be reduced even further to 0.1%.
You will need to talk to your vet if you are concerned about your pooches. Once they have been diagnosed with a problem, discuss changing their diet. In fact the vet will probably suggest a low sodium diet.
What are the Different Types of Low Sodium Dog Food?
Low sodium dog food comes in the same guises as normal dog food. The most common, however, is dry and even if you are making your own food, it’s a good idea to supplement it with dry food to ensure that your pooches are getting the right nutrition.
There is also some wet food available and you can purchase treats. Normal treats can often be a source of high sodium so while you are feeding your dogs a low sodium diet, their salt intake could be raised from normal treats.
It’s always a good idea to read the list of ingredients on every product you buy.
What are the Benefits of Low Sodium Dog Food?
A low sodium diet can both help manage a range of conditions and work wonders for the overall health of your dogs. For a start too much salt can lead to dehydration.
If you cut back on sodium your dog will stay hydrated. You don’t want your dogs to drink too much water to compensate as it can affect the health of their kidneys
Too much water can also lead to persistent diarrhea. A low sodium diet will allow your dogs to retain more water and therefore remain healthy.
This diet will also reduce blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Finally, a low sodium diet can prevent osteoporosis and poor nerve function.
Drawbacks of a Low Sodium Diet
There aren’t any drawbacks of a low sodium diet if your dog has health problems such as heart failure or liver and kidney disease. However, if they don’t have such illnesses it’s not a good idea to put your dogs on this diet as healthy dogs do need a certain amount of sodium in their diets.
What are the Reasons for Putting Your Dogs on a Low Sodium Dog Food?
We have already mentioned heart problems and liver and kidney disease, but there are other reasons to put your dogs on a low sodium diet.
If your dog has hypernatremia it’s best to put your dogs on a low sodium diet. This affects the way water is absorbed and dogs who suffer from this lose too much water which can affect the whole body.
If it’s not treated it can lead to high blood pressure and even heart disease. Common symptoms include extreme thirst, vomiting, lethargy, and seizures.
What to Look For in a Low Sodium Dog Food
Obviously the first thing to look for is the salt content. If it isn’t on the packet or can, go into the manufacturers website.
You will want to make sure that the low sodium dog food has a high quality protein source and isn’t made out of by-products.
In addition if the food contains lots of antioxidants and omega fatty acids, all the better. Plenty of vitamins and minerals are also good.
All this combined will strengthen the immune system of your dogs and give them healthy skin and a glossy coat.
Try to avoid dog food that has too many empty fillers like wheat, corn, and soy. None of these contribute anything to the health of your dogs.
My 10 Best Low Sodium Dog Food
Orijen Freeze Dried Tundra Dog Food
This product is not marketed as a low sodium food, but it only has a sodium content of 0.3% which would be suitable for dogs in the early stages of heart disease or liver and kidney problems.
It is freeze-dried which means that it keeps more of the nutritional value of the raw ingredients. Cooking always destroys some of the nutrients.
It is jam-packed full of proteins including chicken, turkey, herrings, eggs, and chicken organ meats. Carbohydrates come in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables and there are no empty fillers like wheat, corn, or soy. It is completely gluten free.
This food has a limited number of main ingredients which means that it’s also great for dogs that have allergies.
Finally, it contains chelated minerals which help nutrients to be absorbed easily.
Greenies Pill Pocket Soft Dog Treats – Chicken
Greenies pill pockets have two uses. Firstly they are a treat and secondly are a great way to give your pooches their medicine. I think most of us will have struggled to give our faithful friends their medicine at one time or another. I know I did with my Portia.
They are 100% natural, and as well as being low in sodium, they are low in fat and have fewer calories than ordinary treats. It’s much healthier for your pups than trying to hide their pills in a lump of cheese.
All you do is stick the pill in the pocket and you’re all set to go. They come in a tasty chicken flavor which your dogs will find hard to resist. The pill pockets are great at masking both the taste and the smell of the pills.
In addition the treats contain plenty of vitamins C and E which help to support the immune system.
Hill’s Science Diet Small & Toy Breed Dry Dog Food
The first ingredient is chicken meal, followed by brewer’s rice. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives which is much healthier for your dogs.
In addition to being low in sodium, it is packed full of calcium and protein which helps to support bones and muscles as well as giving your dogs healthy skin and a glossy coat. Omega-6 also helps to promote a shiny coat.
There are plenty of antioxidants and vitamins C and E and these all blend together to help support a healthy immune system.
Fruitables Broth Bowls Pet Safe Natural Chicken Food Topper Low Calorie Sodium
As well as being low in sodium, it is low in calories with just 2 calories per ounce. All the better if your pooches are a little portly.
It’s an all-natural food which doesn’t contain anything hazardous like leek, onion, or garlic, all of which are harmful for your dogs.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food
This dog food contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which help to maintain a shiny coat and healthy skin. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Carbohydrates are limited, with brown rice being the main source of carbs. Brown rice contains extra nutrients such as fiber and essential oils. All dogs need to have some fiber in their diet to keep them regular.
This dog food has been formulated for dogs of all ages, from puppies to senior dogs.
It’s great for energetic dogs too.
Royal Canin Canine Hepatic Dry
If your dogs have problems with their liver, it can affect the whole body and this formula contains plenty of nutrients to support the immune system.
As well as being low in salt, it is packed full of high quality vegetable protein. The top ingredient is brewer’s rice and there is just a little chicken fat for animal protein. These proteins are highly digestible and will tempt your pooches to eat.
There is increased zinc in this product as well as a low level of copper. Restricted copper helps to slow down the natural build-up of metal in the liver.
Too much metal in the liver is not good for the health of your dogs.
In addition there is plenty of fiber which will keep your dogs regular and the food is full of healthy B vitamins for overall health.
To top it all, there is a perfect blend of antioxidants which helps to support a healthy immune system. There are plenty of omega-3 fatty acids which help to stop inflammations which can have a negative impact on your dogs’ systems.
The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Grain Dog Food
The Honest Kitchen is unique in that it just makes animal food that is dehydrated. It also uses 100% human-grade ingredients and they manufacture their products in human food facilities. What could be better than that?
They formulate all their recipes with fresh whole foods like real meat, not by-products, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
The foods have minimal processing time which means that nutrients are preserved and not destroyed by too much cooking. All you have to do is rehydrate the food with water before serving.
If you want a low sodium food for your dogs this is a great choice. It is made with ranch raised beef and together with the addition of organic oats and barley your dogs will get the correct balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
The carbs and dietary fiber come from fresh fruit and vegetables which are all healthy for your pups.
There are no empty fillers in this product like wheat, corn or soy and there are also no preservatives, all the better for your dogs. There aren’t even any GMO ingredients.
There are 78 grams of salt per 100kcal which is perfect for dogs which need a mild sodium restriction.
This recipe is suitable for all ages from puppies to seniors.
Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Dry Dog Food
As well as having reduced sodium, this food has 18% fewer calories than normal Hill’s Science Dog Food. This will stop your pups from putting on weight which can increase their health problems.
The sodium count in this food is 0.35% which is lower than most commercial dog foods and is great for dogs that are in the early stages of heart, liver, or kidney disease.
The recipe contains L-Cartinine which transforms fat into energy. What you don’t want is too much fat in the body as it will make your pups portly.
This food is a natural source of both glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which help to support joint health and mobility.
The immune system is supported by this recipe. It has a perfect antioxidant blend combined with vitamins C and E.
The main ingredient is a protein, chicken meal, but it also has brewers rice, pea protein, and healthy vegetables. You can rest assured that your pups will be getting the correct amount of proteins, carbs, and fats.
Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula
This low sodium diet is also formulated for dogs who are suffering from sensitive stomachs and food allergies. It is limited ingredient and the first ingredient is salmon. Sodium is present at 50mg per 100 calories which is low.
This food is totally healthy and contains no artificial colors or flavors which are bad for your dogs. There are no empty fillers like wheat, corn, or soy nor are there any by-products.
Other ingredients include healthy proteins and carbs like barley, oatmeal, fish meal, fish oil, vitamin B12 and dried egg product.
In addition this recipe is jam-packed with omega-6 fatty acids and linoleic acid, both of which help to give your pooches a shiny coat and healthy skin.
The only downside of this food is that it’s a bit smelly, but that’s a small price to pay for a low sodium diet which will help your dogs get back to full health.
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food
This is another great low sodium dog food. It’s made with simple natural ingredients like US farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient. In addition it is jam-packed with lots of wholesome vegetables which provide essential nutrients for your dogs.
This food is completely natural and has been formulated without any by products, empty fillers like wheat, corn, or soy, gluten, or artificial colors and preservatives.
The recipe is rich in fiber and includes brown rice and beet pulp. These ingredients also work together to support a healthy immune system.
There are plenty of vitamins and minerals especially in the form of peas and carrots.
There is poultry fat in this food which provides omega fatty acids so that your pooches will have healthy skin and a shiny and glossy coat.
Homemade Low Sodium Dog Food
It’s a great idea to make your own low sodium food to supplement the commercial food you give your dogs.
There are lots of foods which are naturally low in sodium including bananas, pears, barley, unsalted almonds, shredded wheat, apples, jam, unsalted butter, and honey.
Here are a couple of recipes which you might like to try to tempt your dogs
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 pound frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots
6 cups of water
2 cups of brown rice
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Fry the meat until it’s brown, then add the frozen vegetables and the rice and bring to boiling point
Simmer for 20 minutes and then cool and form into small balls.
Freeze to keep the balls in shape and then bring out of the freezer half an hour before serving.
Here’s another recipe which is for a great vegetarian treat.
2 and a half cups brown rice flour
1 cup cooked vegetables; sweet potatoes, zucchini, and winter squash
Half a cup of water
Low sodium, low fat vegetable broth
This is a really simple meal. All you have to do is mix all the ingredients together and bake for 20 minutes at 350F.
If you want to make treats for your dogs, here is a recipe for a low sodium treat.
1 pack oyster crackers
Half a stick of butter
Half a cup of cheese or liver powder
Sprinkle the liver powder or cheese over the crackers and mix well. Pour over the melted butter and bake for six minutes at 325F. Then they’re ready to serve as in-between meals snacks.
As we have shown, a low sodium diet is the way to go if you have dogs that have
heart problems or liver and kidney disease. Healthy dogs however don’t need a low sodium diet as it can damage their health.
My top choices of dog food are Orijen Freeze Dried Tundra Dog Food and The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Grain Dog Food.
Orijen is freeze dried which means that the nutrients are kept in the food rather than being lost through cooking.
It is high in protein from fresh and raw meat. It’s a great food for dogs in the early stages of heart, liver or kidney disease.
I like The Honest Kitchen because it uses food fit for humans. What can be better than that for your faithful friends? It’s dehydrated so like Orijen, it retains most of the nutrients.
I have to finally give a mention to Greenies Pill Pockets as they are ideal for giving medication to your pups.
I wish I’d heard of them when I was trying to give Portia her medicine. It would have made life so much easier.