Salt in moderate amounts is healthy for dogs. Sodium is vital to several of a dog's body functions such as the transmission of nerve signals and the regulation of the blood pressure. However, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), excessive salt intake can lead to hypernatremia, a condition where a dog's bloodstream has higher than normal levels of sodium.
Dogs suffering from hypernatremia develop different symptoms. According to PetMD, some of these include:
- Low water intake
- Increased thirst
To diagnose the dog's condition, the vet will conduct a urinalysis to measure the sodium level. Most cases of hypernatremia can be corrected using fluid therapy, where a dog is given a controlled amount of water to correct the electrolyte imbalance. This should only be done by a trained professional because inappropriate fluid therapy can lead to even more severe complications such as cerebral edema and possibly death. To avoid hypernatremia, vets advise that owners refrain from feeding strange treats to their pets without first consulting with a vet. Owners should also prevent dogs from drinking or swimming in ocean water.