Top 10 Best Low Sodium Dog Food
Sodium is an important mineral that’s essential for nerve and muscle function in both humans and dogs. Beyond that, it helps to make food taste a lot better, too.
It’s that second point that can cause issues. Many dog food manufacturers fill their foods with sodium to make dogs more likely to eat it, but too much sodium can lead to a whole host of health issues (and feeding your pooch human food doesn’t help, either).
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Finding a high-quality dog food is difficult under the best of conditions. The healthy options all look drab and miserable, but the last thing you want to do is give your dog something that will make his health problems worse.
In the reviews below, we’ll show you which foods we recommend as part of a low sodium diet for dogs. These are foods that are filled with important vitamins and minerals, are high in protein, and most importantly, don’t taste like cardboard.
Can I add salt to homemade dog food?
No. salt should be limited in homemade dog food, especially if your dog is on a low-sodium diet.
Does canned tuna have high sodium content?
Yes. Canned tuna is high in sodium, making it unsafe for dogs on a low-sodium diet.
Are Bananas high in sodium?
No. Bananas are low in sodium, making them a great snack for dogs.
Are sweet potatoes high in sodium?
No. Sweet potatoes are naturally low in sodium. If your dog needs a low-sodium diet, you can choose food products with sweet potatoes as the main carbohydrate source.
Is sodium good for dogs?
Sodium is an essential mineral for dogs, but excessive sodium is poisonous. Optimal sodium levels in the body help maintain the cellular environment and prevent cell degeneration. Additionally, sodium supports healthy nerve and muscle cell function.
Does high-sodium dog food cause diarrhea?
Yes. High-sodium dog food can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
How much salt is toxic?
Fatal salt overdoses are rare, as they require consuming amounts of salt nearing 0.2–0.5 grams per pound (0.5–1 gram per kg) of body weight, amounting to 35–70 grams of salt (2–4 tablespoons) for a person weighing 154 pounds (70 kg).
How do you flush salt out of your dog’s body?
Provide clean water to help flush sodium from your dog’s kidneys. Staying hydrated will also help them feel less bloated.
How much sodium do adult dogs need?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that commercial dog foods contain at least 0.3% sodium for optimal growth and development.
How can I lower my dog’s sodium level?
Your vet will recommend skipping the snacks and sticking to a low-sodium diet, which may vary from moderate to greater salt reduction. Some dogs that have heart disease may even need to restrict sodium content to 0.1 percent. Before choosing low-sodium food, consult with your vet about a recommended level.
Are there signs that my dog is consuming too much sodium?
The most common signs are excessive thirst and urination. Your dog will need to drink water to get rid of the excess sodium. If you’re concerned, your vet can do a urine test to check if their sodium level is too high.
What are the risks of excessive sodium intake?
Excessive sodium intake may increase blood pressure and aggravate the symptoms of heart disease.
What are the dietary sources of sodium?
Meat, fish, dairy products, poultry, and eggs are good sources of sodium. Some manufacturers also include salt to heighten flavors in commercial pet foods. If your dog has to be on a low-sodium diet, you may want to avoid additional salt sources.
Does salt intake make dogs thirsty?
Yes. Eating too much salt can make dogs thirsty and lead to sodium ion poisoning.
Does high-sodium dog food cause seizures?
Yes. Excess sodium intake can be hazardous to dogs. It can trigger seizures in dogs with a seizure disorder.
Can excess salt affect my dog’s brain?
High levels of dietary salt can chemically alter a protein called tau. This change is called phosphorylation and can cause tau to clump together in your dog’s brain.
When do vets recommend a low-sodium diet?
Vets might recommend decreasing sodium intake if your dog has kidney, liver, or heart disease. A low sodium diet will help lower high blood pressure and body fluid accumulation.
Is cheese high in sodium?
Some dairy foods like cottage cheese and other processed cheeses can be high in sodium. They can contain up to 450 mg of sodium per ounce.
The 10 Best Low Sodium Dog Foods
Iams Adult Minichunks Dog Food – Best Value
The best low sodium dog food for the money is Iams Adult Minichunks, which features real chicken as the first ingredient. This food contains 0.21% sodium on a dry matt`er basis, making it a moderate sodium diet option for tight budgets. The kibble size of this food is ideal for dogs of any size, and it’s highly palatable, even for picky eaters.
It contains fiber and prebiotics to support healthy digestion, as well as antioxidants to support immune health. This food contains nutritious whole grains, like corn and sorghum, to support your dog’s overall health and to provide a good source of fiber. Although the kibbles in this food are small, they may be too crunchy for dogs with dental difficulties to eat.
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Cardiocare Dog Food – Best Overall
|Ground oat meal
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Cardiocare is our top pick for dog food low in sodium. This prescription-only dog food is formulated with dogs with early-stage heart disease in mind. It is a moderate sodium diet that contains a cardiac protection blend of amino acids and omega fatty acids to support cardiac health, as well as skin, coat, and joint health. It’s high in vitamin E, which helps reduce oxidative stress on the body.
Not only does this food help support cardiac function, but it also helps maintain the overall structure of the heart. It’s a good source of wholesome grains, like corn, rice, and oats.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach – Vet’s Choice
The Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach wet food is our vet’s choice controlled sodium dog food. This food contains around 50 milligrams per 100 calories of food, making it a moderate sodium option.
It’s a good option for dogs with digestive and skin sensitivities, and it’s free of common allergens, like chicken and beef. It’s a good source of omega fatty acids for skin, coat, heart, and joint health. This is a highly palatable food option, and it contains rice as a gentle but nutrient-rich grain. If you’re feeding this as a sole food source for your dog, it’s likely to become expensive quite quickly.
Earthborn Holistic Natural Dog Food
Earthborn Holistic Natural certainly presents itself as a healthy kibble, but a closer look at the label reveals a food that doesn’t have much going for it.
The first ingredient is chicken meal instead of real chicken, and there’s whitefish meal further down the ingredients list. That’s not ideal, and there’s relatively little protein inside as a result. It’s heavy on the potatoes as well, which as we’ve seen isn’t great from a digestive standpoint.
The lack of real protein is curious given the price. Many times, manufacturers use meals instead of actual protein sources to cut costs, but this food is still fairly expensive. It’s not clear from looking at the ingredients what might be driving the price up.
It does have lots of antioxidants inside, though, which should be good for your pup’s immune system. Also, while your dog won’t necessarily care about this, the packaging is BPA-free and recyclable, so you can feel like you’re doing your Earth-friendly duty by buying it.
Overall though, we’d recommend buying food that has more to offer than Earthborn Holistic Natural.
- Lots of potatoes, which can cause digestive issues
- Uses protein meal instead of real protein
- On the pricey side
- Low protein levels
- Filled with antioxidants
- Earth-friendly packaging
JustFoodForDogs Turkey Dog Food
The JustFoodForDogs Turkey & Whole Wheat Macaroni food is low in sodium, only containing around 24 milligrams of sodium per 1,000 calories. It contains wholesome grains, thanks to the addition of whole wheat macaroni, and it contains adequate levels of fiber from nutritious ingredients like zucchini, carrots, and cranberries.
This ready-to-serve food has been formulated by veterinary nutritionists to ensure maximum health benefits for your dog. It’s shipped frozen and can be kept frozen for up to a year, but it should be consumed within 3 days of thawing. Although it retails for a premium price, this food is nutrient-dense and will help support a healthy weight when fed as directed.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Dog Food
If your dog needs to lose a few pounds, then the Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight food may be a good option. It contains around 0.35% sodium on a dry matter basis, making it a slightly low sodium option. It does contain pea fiber as the fourth ingredient, and legumes like peas have shown a potential link to heart disease in dogs, so make sure to discuss this with your vet before switching your dog to this food.
It contains cracked pearled barley and brown rice as healthy, whole grain sources of fiber. This food is formulated to help your dog maintain muscle mass while losing body weight, and it’s packed with vitamins and minerals to help support your dog’s overall health. To help your dog feel satiated while losing weight, this food contains dried beet pulp and oat fiber. This food retails for a premium price.
Natural Balance Dry Dog Food
Unlike the Wellness Complete Health Natural above, Natural Balance L.I.D. only takes its protein from a single animal source — lamb, in this case. This reduces the likelihood of your dog having digestive issues from eating a mix of animals. The downside, for this food at least, is that there isn’t as much protein as in some other foods.
Another good thing about limiting the protein sources is that it keeps the price low, too. This food is very budget-friendly, and we feel it’s the best low-sodium dog food for the money.
The other primary ingredient is rice, and there is a mixture of that inside. It contains brown rice, brewers rice, and rice bran, all of which are fairly gentle on the digestive system while contributing some fiber. Notice we said “some,” as this isn’t a high-fiber food. We also liked the inclusion of taurine, which is necessary for maintaining healthy heart function.
Natural Balance L.I.D. is very good food that retails for a very competitive price. However, it’s just not quite as good as Wellness Complete Health Natural, which is why it slots in one spot below it here.
- Limited amount of fiber
- Less protein than other foods
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Dog Food
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream dog food contains 0.25% sodium content, making it a moderate sodium diet. This is a grain-free diet that contains lentils, so it’s important to discuss the potential risks associated with grain-free and legume-containing diets with your vet before switching your dog.
It’s a good source of probiotics and fiber, supporting digestive health, as well as omega fatty acids, supporting skin, coat, heart, and joint health. Some people report their picky eaters not finding it to be very palatable. It is a good source of nutrient-dense protein, though, thanks to ingredients like salmon and ocean fish meal. This may be a good diet for dogs with sensitivities to common proteins.
Wellness Complete Health Low Sodium Dog Food
In addition to having a low sodium count, Wellness Complete Health Natural is a weight-control formula as well, so it should help keep the flab at bay.
The first ingredient is real lamb, and beyond that, it’s filled with nutrient-rich foods like flaxseed, blueberries, and spinach. That gives your dog plenty of fiber and promotes a healthy, shiny coat, while also giving her immune system the support it needs.
The manufacturers add in a lot of other healthy ingredients as well, including biotin for strong hair and nails, glucosamine, and chondroitin for joint health, and probiotics to aid digestion.
Our biggest problem with the Wellness Complete Health Natural has nothing to do with the food itself; rather, the issue is with the bag. The larger sizes aren’t resealable, so you’ll need a separate container or it will go stale before your dog can finish it.
That’s surely a minor complaint, though, and certainly not enough to knock it from the top spot.
- Larger bags aren’t resealable
- Includes superfoods like flaxseed, spinach, and blueberries
- Added vitamins like glucosamine and biotin
- Weight-control recipe
- First ingredient is real lamb
- Has probiotics to aid digestion
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey Recipe Dog Food
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey Recipe dog food is a dehydrated, cooked dog food that can be fed as a primary food source or as a topper or additive. It contains 0.14% sodium on a dry matter basis, making this one of the lowest sodium foods we reviewed. It’s nutrient dense, but this food retails for a premium price that may put it out of the budget for many people.
The ingredients are gently and slowly dehydrated, allowing them to retain as many nutrients as possible without having to feed a raw diet. It’s made with wholesome grains, like oats, and nutritious fruits and veggies, like carrots, apples, and cabbage. Pickier eaters may not love this food, especially since its texture is so different from most other dog foods.
Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Low Sodium Dog Food
What’s the Problem with Sodium?
- As mentioned above, sodium is actually a vital nutrient, as it plays an important role in electrolyte balance and nerve and cell function. Too much of a good thing, however, can lead to some serious health problems.
- Sodium causes water retention, and all that liquid buildup in your dog’s body can make it harder for his kidneys to do their job. If your dog suffers from congestive heart failure or liver and kidney problems, sodium and fluid retention are even more dangerous.
- By reducing the amount of sodium in his food, you allow his kidneys to process what’s already in his system, and he can eliminate some of the excess salt via urination. This won’t “solve” the problem, per se, as you’ll need to keep his sodium intake down, but it can help reduce his symptoms.
Where Else Could My Dog Be Getting Sodium From?
We hinted at this above, but a major issue for dogs with sodium problem is eating human food. We know, we know — giving Rex table scraps is a lot of fun for both you and him. Human food has a lot more salt than dogs need, though, so you may be doing more harm than good by sharing your dinner with him.
Also, check his treats. Dog treats are designed to be delicious rather than nutritious, so they may go overboard on sodium as a result. You might need to switch to another brand or eliminate treats entirely (don’t tell him it was us that suggested doing that, though).
How Do I Know If My Dog Needs Low Sodium Dog Food?
Simply put, your vet will tell you.
All dogs need at least 0.3% sodium in their food to function properly, and many foods have quite a bit more than that. That’s not necessarily an issue, as a healthy dog can simply increase his water intake and pee it all out, but dogs with heart, liver, or kidney issues may have trouble getting rid of the excess.
If you’ve noticed your dog retaining water, take him to the vet for a checkup. Issues like high blood pressure may also be telltale signs of a sodium problem.
Overall, though, we don’t recommend diagnosing a sodium problem yourself, and never try to eliminate it completely. Follow your vet’s lead on this one.
How Can I Tell If My Dog’s Not Getting Enough Sodium?
Again, ask your vet.
It’s very hard to feed your dog too little sodium, and so unless you’re making his food yourself, it’s not typically something you need to worry about. However, certain conditions can make it difficult for your dog to retain sodium, and these can have a catastrophic impact on your dog’s health, so get him to the vet immediately if you notice any of the following signs:
Hopefully, you don’t need us to tell you to rush to the ER if your dog’s in a coma — but then again, some dogs seem to spend half their lives in a coma.
How Worried Should I Be About This?
- Generally speaking, sodium isn’t something to concern yourself with. Most dogs can handle it just fine.
- If your vet tells you that it’s an issue, though, you should take that very seriously. Switching to low-sodium dog food is essential, as is limiting any other food your pup consumes.
- It’s not something to lose sleep over, but neither is it something that’s ok to ignore, either.
Finding a Low-Sodium Dog Food
- One mistake that many pet owners make when switching to a low-sodium food is ignoring everything other than the salt content. While that’s obviously important, you also need to make sure your dog is getting all the other vitamins and nutrients he needs.
- The foods listed above (especially our top picks) offer a balanced nutritional profile that will ensure your dog stays as healthy as possible. That means they have plenty of protein from natural sources, a good amount of fiber, a reasonable amount of fat, and plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Don’t neglect flavor, either. Just because your dog is on a diet doesn’t mean he should be miserable. Many low-sodium foods are just as tasty as regular options, so if your dog turns his nose up at one, keep shopping until you find a food he likes.
These reduced sodium food reviews serve simply as a starting point to help you find the right food for your dog, but make sure to discuss this with your vet in detail.
The best overall low sodium food for dogs is Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Cardiocare, which is a great, veterinary-prescribed option. For tight budgets, the Iams Adult Minichunks can be a great option, especially if you’re also purchasing expensive prescriptions for your dog.
For our vet’s choice food, you’ll love the Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach wet food, which is highly palatable and can be a good option for dogs with food sensitivities