There are several reasons why you may choose the best low sodium dog food, from lifestyle choices to heart, kidney, or liver disease.
You want food that offers not only low sodium levels but also ingredients that are beneficial to your dog’s overall health and can assist in whatever disease your dog is suffering from.
I looked into the reasons that your dog may need a low sodium dog food and found the best low salt foods for your dog’s needs.
Why Is Sodium Important in Your Dog’s Diet?
Your dog needs a certain amount of sodium to function properly. Along with magnesium and potassium, sodium is necessary for muscle contractions and cell signaling.
Sufficient sodium is important for the regulation of atomic pressure, maintaining a balance of acids and bases.
Sodium is also essential for the generation and transmission of nerve impulses.
Therefore a higher-than-average sodium diet may be desirable for dogs who have a history of bladder stones or belong to a breed that is prone to acquiring them, like Miniature Schnauzers and Cocker Spaniels.
Recommended Sodium Levels for Dogs
For the maintenance of a normal, healthy dog, the daily recommended allowance of sodium is 200 mg.
Chart from Nap.edu
Why Your Dogs Want Low Sodium Dog Diets?
There are a number of reasons why you would seek out a low sodium dog food. From lifestyle choices to medical necessity, a low sodium dog food diet serves many purposes.
Since dogs get rid of extra sodium in their urine, a diet which does not provide excessive sodium results in less urination. Less urination means that dogs can hold it longer and more comfortably.
If your high-octane working dog needs as much hydration as possible while they are on the go, you may choose a lower sodium diet so that they do not waste water by urinating frequently.
Perhaps you just really love sharing a little bit of your leftover healthy meat and vegetables with your dogs. You want to be able to continue this habit without exceeding your dog’s daily requirements of sodium. Using a low sodium diet, you can make up for a few indulgences like leftover human meat and vegetables.
Remember to always do your research to make sure that something is safe to feed your dog and never give your dog anything with lots of rich sauces or anything with uncertain ingredients.
Whether your dog is suffering from heart, kidney, or liver disease now or they belong to a breed that is prone to these conditions, a low sodium dog food may be a good idea.
Low sodium dog food may be efficient for the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Since congestive heart failure is associated with retention of sodium along with fluoride, the sodium content of your dog food is extremely important for disease management. The best low sodium dog food for congestive heart failure will have other vitamins and minerals to nourish your dog’s heart, like Omega 3 and 6.
A high sodium diet may increase blood pressure and worsen kidney damage. Studies have found that pets who eat a diet specially designed for the management of kidney disease can live as much as twice as long.
Sodium levels must be carefully managed in dogs with liver disease. A balanced low sodium diet will enable your dog to live a happier and healthier life for longer.
When and How to Start a Low Sodium Food for Your Dog
Sodium is important for your dog’s health, so it isn’t necessarily a good idea to restrict sodium for no reason.
If increased urination has benefits for your dog, such as dogs that are prone to the formation of bladder stones, maintaining an average or even higher than average sodium diet is appropriate.
On the other hand, if your dog belongs to a breed prone to heart, liver, or kidney problems or if your dog is already experiencing issues, it may be a good idea to choose a low sodium dog food.
Features to Look for in Low Sodium Foods
The right amount of sodium
The AAFCO minimum sodium for dog food, even low sodium dog food, is 20 mg per 100 kilocalories.
Calculate how many kilocalories your dog should have a day and determine where foods fall according to your dog’s needs. To determine how many kilocalories your dog needs, you can consult this chart.
For instance, a 30 lb dog needs 575 kilocalories per day in order to maintain their weight. That means that the minimum sodium that they should get per day is 115mg.
Other nutrients that benefit your dog’s needs
If you are looking for a low sodium dog food, there’s a really good chance that you are looking for specific balances of vitamins and minerals as well. Choose food that is well-balanced and will meet all your dog’s needs. Here are some of the diseases which may cause you to seek out a low sodium dog food and the other relevant vitamins and minerals which may benefit your dog.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Reduced phosphorus and protein
- Supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil
- Controlled chloride and potassium
- Low protein
Even very high quality and nutritious low sodium dog food won’t do your dog very much good if they won’t eat it. Choose a food that your dog will enjoy eating. Ideally, the food you choose will be enticing enough that your dog will spend time trying to get it out of food distributing toys and perform behaviors for it as a treat. It helps to choose a formula that comes in either wet or kibble or that offers little enough sodium that you can supplement with low sodium dog treats.
Reviews of 5 Best Low Sodium Dog Foods
These reviews are listed in the order of sodium content. All foods are chosen from the Tufts Chart of reduced-sodium foods nutrient content from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, which is a trusted source for choosing low sodium dog food recipes.
None of these foods are completely salt-free dog food since some level of sodium is necessary for your dog’s health, but they are the best low sodium diets for dogs.
Best life-long diet for dogs with low-sodium needs
If you want a diet that will do the most for your dog’s heart and skin health, you’ll love this salmon based diet which avoids corn, wheat, and soy and uses oatmeal as a highly digestible source of carbohydrates that is great for heart and skin.
This food has lots of Omega-3 as well as being a low sodium diet, so if additional Omega-3 was high on your list of added vitamins and minerals, you’ll love this low salt dog food.
- 16% crude fat
- 26% crude protein
- 50 mg sodium per 100 kilocalories is very low on the Tufts Chart
- Salmon, barley, and ground rice are the first three ingredients
- Glucosamine for joint health
- Easy to digest oatmeal. No corn, soy, wheat, or artificial colors or flavors
- Made for maintaining the average dog with low sodium dog food requirements
- Real salmon is the first ingredient, so you get a big natural dose of Omega 3 along with a low sodium formula, which is important for heart and kidney health
- Some dogs have stinky gas when eating this food
- High-fat content may cause some dogs to gain weight
- Some people find that this food has a strong salmon smell
Best low-sodium diet for older tiny dogs
Royal Canin is one of the brands recommended by vets, and one of the brands you’ll see most often on the Tufts chart.
If you’ve considered the Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Low Fat diet for your older dog but want a low sodium dog food, this may be the food for you.
This is an excellent choice for older tiny dogs who need a low sodium dog food. It is designed specifically for little old dogs who are getting a bit peckish about their food.
It is packed with all of the vitamins, minerals, and protein that your little dog needs while keeping sodium extremely low.
- 48 mg sodium per 100 kilocalories, very low on the Tufts Chart
- 22% crude protein
- 14% crude fat
- Brewer’s rice, chicken by-product meal, and corn gluten meal are the first three ingredients
- Enhanced palatability to tempt your picky little dog
- Rehydratable kibble made for older little teeth and weaker jaws
- EPA, DHA, and antioxidants and designed to support heart health
- For toy and miniature breed dogs who are over 12 years old and weigh up to 8 pounds
- Very expensive considering corn is the third ingredient
- Brewer’s rice and corn are less desirable than other grains
- Many people would prefer to see chicken meal instead of chicken by-product meal
Best low-sodium food to tempt picky eaters
Looking for a wet low sodium dog food that your dog is unlikely to turn their nose up at? This formula by Purina is sure to tempt even the pickiest dogs. Real chicken and brown rice and a savory gravy provide the nutrients your dog needs and the flavor they need to convince them to eat. This fiber-rich diet is also a great source of glucosamine for your dog’s joint health.
- 55 mg sodium per 100 kilocalories
- 10% crude protein
- 3% crude fat
- Chicken and turkey broth, chicken, and liver are the first three ingredients
- Low-fat but delicious
- Antioxidants for the immune system
- Natural sources of glucosamine for joint health
- Delicious wet food that will tempt even the pickiest eaters
- Real chicken is a natural and highly digestible form of protein
- Relatively low protein content
- Wheat gluten and soy flour can cause allergies for some dogs
- Uses chicken, turkey, and pork so difficult to identify protein allergies in allergic dogs
Best affordable high-quality low-sodium dog food
If you want to give your dog the low salt dog food that they need but can’t afford to spend the prices of some of these other options, Iams has you covered with this proactive recipe.
Chicken is the first ingredient, for a highly digestible form of protein. It is followed by ground whole grain corn, ground full-grain sorghum, and chicken by-product.
These ingredients may be bothersome for some people, but unless your dog has had allergic reactions or difficulty digesting these ingredients before, there’s no reason to be concerned. Trusted sources like the AKC and quality dog foods like Veterinary-recommended Hills defend the use of corn in your dog’s food.
- 55 mg sodium per 100 kilocalories
- 25% crude protein
- 14% crude fat
- Chicken, Ground whole grain corn, and Ground whole grain sorghum are the first three ingredients
- Antioxidants for a healthy immune system
- Easy to digest blend of prebiotics and fiber with L Carnitine for metabolism
- Great formula for life-long feeding, especially for breeds prone to health, liver, or kidney problems
- Farm-raised chicken is the first ingredient and an excellent highly digestible form of protein that builds strong muscles
- If you’ve been balking at the price of these foods, especially if you’ve got a large dog to feed, this affordable but high-quality dog food is for you
- Relatively high-fat content
- Chicken has less protein than the chicken by-product
- Corn and sorghum are among the first three ingredients
Best for preventing heart, kidney, or liver disease in adult dogs
This is a great wet, high protein low sodium dog food that uses real chicken and pork liver.
This is a great lifelong diet for your dog or a good transition diet as your dog moves to low sodium dog food recipes.
The high-quality protein makes it a good choice for high-energy dogs, while the stew texture is extremely enticing for most dogs.
- 67 mg sodium per 100 kilocalories
- 26.6% crude protein
- 18.7% crude fat
- Water, chicken, pork liver, and whole-grain corn are the first four ingredients
- Easy-to-digest ingredients
- Antioxidants for lifetime health
- Omega 6 fatty acids and vitamin E
- Delicious stew formula that dogs love
- High-quality protein to build strong muscles
- Great wet diet for average adult dogs to prevent issues associated with too much sodium
- High in fat
- The first ingredient is water
- Chicken doesn’t have as much protein as chicken meal
Low-Sodium Treats to Supplement Low Sodium Dog Food
Every dog likes a good treat. Low sodium dog treats should have less than 1 mg sodium per calorie. Don’t feel like you need to restrict your dog too much in order to meet their sodium needs.
There are all kinds of great low sodium treats that you can give your dog.
Fruit and veggie treats
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium and can be wonderful healthy snacks for your dog. Give them to your dog directly after washing or freeze them for a more challenging treat which can be soothing for teeth and gums.
If your dog is sufficiently motivated, you can even use fruits and veggies to stuff a food-distributing toy. If your dog isn’t interested in the fruit and veggie treats, try sprinkling a little fish oil on for extra Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and to entice your dog.
When choosing low sodium dog treats, be careful to choose treats that have been freeze-dried, not salted.
Dried meat or vegetables that have been coated with salt to preserve them will be extremely high in sodium.
Look for single-ingredient products that list whether they have salt added or not.
These human food-grade salmon treats are packed with Omega 3 and 6, both of which are great for your dog’s heart and skin. Salmon also has other essential nutrients like magnesium, zinc, potassium, and vitamins A, B12, and D.
This salmon is freeze-dried, not salted, so you won’t have to worry about introducing extra salt.
You can feel good buying this affordable treat which has a 100% money-back guarantee.
I suggest that you soak the salmon pieces in water to revitalize them for the best taste and also to remove any traces of salt from the skin.
Beef lung is a healthy treat that most dogs adore. This is a great treat for dogs who have digestive issues, sensitive stomachs, gain weight easily, or tend to be peckish about their treats.
These single-ingredient treats should not have sodium and should be free of other grains which may irritate your dog. They work great as training treats or to stuff food toys.
These straightforward treats are 100% natural dried sweet potato. Sweet potato is great for your dog, offering lots of vitamins and minerals as well as promoting healthy digestion.
This is a wonderful treat for dogs who tend to have sensitive stomachs. It has minimal fat at 1% but 8% protein, so it is a great muscle building low sodium dog treat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sodium is a basic mineral that dogs need in order for their bodies to work properly. It maintains the balance of fluids and nerve function, along with other important functions.
The kidneys control the balance of sodium in the body. When too much is ingested, the kidneys flush it out in urine and other fluids.
Excessive amounts of sodium may have a negative effect on the kidneys and worsen liver disease.
Many experts believe that too much sodium increases blood pressure and has other negative effects on the heart.
Dogs are very good at getting rid of extra sodium. When they have ingested too much sodium dogs have increased urination and water consumption as they flush the sodium from their system.
When a lot of sodium has been ingested, your dog may be restless or have an increased heart rate.
Sodium is an extremely common mineral found in dog food, treats, and chews, as well as in all kinds of human foods that you may feed your dog.
Human foods like chips and snack foods are packed with sodium.
Even things you may consider healthy food for your dogs like meat and vegetable table scraps often have a lot of sodium sprinkled on them in the form of table salt.
A low sodium diet for dogs doesn’t have to be boring or unappealing to your dog.
Choose from wet or dry foods of a variety of flavors and ingredients in recipes tailored to your dog’s needs.
Since so many owners who are seeking out a low sodium dog food are concerned about their dog’s heart health, Pro Plan Focus sensitive skin & stomach salmon & rice is a great maintenance diet for the average dog with some heart concerns as well as a good low sodium dog food for congestive heart failure.
Older small dogs
For older small dogs with kidney, heart, or liver problems, Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition X-Small Aging Dry Dog Food is a great food to assist with all kinds of problems associated with aging, including providing a great low sodium dog food.
On a budget
If you’re on a budget, Iams Proactive Health Adult Minichunks is the best choice for you. This low sodium dog food meets your dog’s nutritional needs without breaking the bank.
If your dog hasn’t had problems with a high corn or grain content in the past, there’s no reason not to save some money and give Iams a try.