Salt Poisoning In Pets

Salt poisoning (or sodium toxicity), in pets is something that seems to have come to the forefront of consciousness in more recent years.  In a city like Virginia Beach where salt water is prevalent and many of us allow our pets to play in the salt water, its something to really be aware of so you can hopefully prevent it.  At the very least knowledge of salt poisoning in pets will help you know what to do if it ever does happen.  This article will tell you what salt poisoning is, who is prone to it, how to prevent it, how to recognize symptoms and finally, how to treat it if it happens.

What is Salt Poisoning?

Salt poisoning in pets happens when they have ingested too much sodium.  There are many ways this can happen and is very common in the summer when everyone is at the beach.  Swallowing a little salt water certainly isn’t going to kill you. But be on the watch for pets and children who have been under the water for a longer than normal amount of time or are actively trying to drink the water.

Once salt levels in the blood reach an elevated level, muscles can start to “lose moisture, shrivel and become stiff”. The high levels of sodium chloride also trigger brain cells to release water to dilute the salt within the blood stream.   Salt poisoning in dogs and cats can lead to injury to the kidneys, coma, neurological issues and even death.  There is treatment if addressed early with no treatment dehydration is imminent.

Here are the signs to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Heavy or difficulty breathing
  • Excessive drinking and urination
  • Increased heart rate
  • Unstable walking and movements (looks like they are drunk)
  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Accumulation of fluid in the body

What to do if you suspect salt poisoning

If you see any of the above symptoms and suspect sodium toxicity, get your pet plenty of fresh water and call your vet immediately.  In the Virginia Beach, during off hours call Blue Pearl Veterinary Hospital 757-499-5463 or Bay Beach Hospital 757-340-3913 for emergency assistance.  Salt poisoning in pets can be fatal.

If you suspect a person has salt poisoning take them to the nearest emergency room or call 911.  Sodium Toxicity in people is equally as concerning as salt poisoning in pets.

As always, the best thing to do for sodium toxicity is to prevent it in the first place.

If you are headed to the beach watch to make sure your pup isn’t actively drinking the salt water.  Bring lots of fresh water and a clean drinking bowl.  Encourage them to take regular breaks and drink water.  (It may sound silly but all of this is very applicable to children too.  Except the bowl of course.) 

Other Common Sources Of Salt Poisoning In Pets

While the beach seems the most likely place your pet could get salt poisoning, there are many other possibilities.  Many dogs and cats are naturally drawn to salty things.  Even table salt in the right amount can have an ill effect on pets.  Keep salt shakers and soy sauce safe in a cabinet where they won’t be knocked over.

Play-dough is another source of salt that could poison your pets.  If you have children, making sure projects and toys are always cleaned up immediately is essential.  We all know pets can’t always tell the difference between kid toys and pet toys.  Aside from salt poisoning, toys and craft supplies carry with them choking and other poisoning hazards.  Be sure to keep salt dough ornaments high up on the tree at Christmas time as well!

Another source people do not often realize is paintballs.  Please keep paintballs and other equipment safely away from pets at all times.

While its scary to think about the dangers in our world, its important to be aware and take steps to prevent them.  By all means go to the beach and have a great time.  Just be aware.

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