How to Choose the Best Low Sodium Dog Foods
There are many different reasons why owners may opt to feed their best canine pal a diet that contains a reduced amount of sodium. Foods that are rich in salt can exacerbate a number of serious health problems including congestive heart failure and kidney and liver issues. Since congestive heart failure itself leads to fluid retention, diets that are high in salt can increase the negative effects of the disease for dogs.
As a general rule, diets that contain low to moderate amounts of sodium are a powerful help in preventing excess fluid accumulation. The reduction in sodium leads to water loss each time the dog urinates, providing a vital help to the dog’s critical internal organs.
It can be very challenging to determine the actual sodium content of a given dog food as AAFCO currently does not require this information to be printed on bags. In addition to this, at this time, established food regulations mandate a minimum amount of sodium a food must contain but no maximum, meaning sodium levels can vary dramatically from food to food.
Veterinary professionals have instituted a basic set of guidelines to assist dog owners with selecting a food with the appropriate level of sodium for their dog’s age and health condition. The recommended amounts include:
- 100 mg of sodium per 100 calories for dogs with no need for reduced sodium intake
- 80 t0 100 mg of sodium per 100 calories for dogs with the need for mild sodium reductions
- 50 to 80 mg of sodium per 100 calories for dogs with the need for moderate sodium reductions
- Less than 50 mg of sodium for dogs requiring severe sodium limitations
Though excess sodium is typically only a red flag for dogs with ongoing health conditions, it is possible for dogs to succumb to salt poisoning from a diet too rich in sodium. This most often occurs when a dog ingests a concentrated amount of salt in an abbreviated amount of time. Most frequently, salt toxicity is a result of a dog getting into human food that is heavily salted or eating from a salt shaker.
Salt toxicity can occur at as low levels as 4 grams of sodium per kilogram of a dog’s weight. The most commonly seen symptoms of salt toxicity include vomiting and seizures. Should salt toxicity be suspected in a dog, veterinary intervention is critical, and even if obtained in time, experts report that 50 percent of dogs that have eaten too high a concentration of salt will die, regardless of treatment.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Low Sodium Dog Foods
Trying to determine the correct amount of the best low sodium food to a feed a dog can be challenging. To help with this task, it is always a good idea to use the suggested serving size listed on the side of the bag as a starting point. The dog’s breed, age, weight, and activity level will provide vital helps in ascertaining the proper meal size.
Portions can be adjusted to reflect the dog’s unique needs. Most typically, the dog’s weight and appetite are of great assistance, helping owners to understand if meal sizes should be increased or decreased for optimal health and eating satisfaction.
The best low sodium dog foods for adult dogs contain a minimum of 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat. By comparison, low sodium puppy formulations should be comprised of 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat with slightly higher percentages of each also considered to be ideal.
Dietary Requirements for Low Sodium Dog Foods
The best low sodium dog foods really don’t differ from any high quality diet suited for canine consumption other than that a more conservative approach to sodium content has been undertaken. The first ingredient in any low sodium diet should be a meat-based protein. Whole meats are always the preferred choice, but for a concentrated amount of high quality protein, meat meals are also an excellent selection.
By-products are not as easily digested by dogs and are often comprised of inferior quality pieces of the animal, making them an undesirable choice in an ideal food for dogs. Plant-based proteins such as soy, corn, and wheat, are also difficult for dogs to process and utilize effectively and have been reported to be common allergens among many dogs.
Carbohydrates play an important role in the best low sodium diets. These can be sourced from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. The primary importance of each included carbohydrate is its ease of digestibility and antioxidant content to help support a healthy immune system.
Healthy fats are a critical part of any diet suited to dogs with sodium restrictions. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are a crucial help in ensuring coat and skin health as well as fueling the active dog’s energy levels to enjoy its busy lifestyle with its family. These are best sourced from animal fats such as chicken fat or oily fish.
Every diet can benefit from the addition of supplements to boost the dog’s ability to process its food effectively. Among the most helpful supplements to look for are prebiotics and probiotics to assist with digestion. Glucosamine and chondroitin can also encourage healthy joint function.
Things to Look for in the Best Low Sodium Dog Foods
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in a low sodium dog food:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list
- Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
- Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
- Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
- Contains healthy amounts of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support coat and skin health