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Foods to Avoid for Pets on Low Sodium Diets

Dogs and cats may like salty food but it's not good for them.

A common problem is that pets, especially dogs, are often fed human food that has hidden sodium.  If your veterinarian has recommended that your pet be restricted in its consumption of sodium, you should not feed the following:

  • Cheese or peanut butter
  • Deli or luncheon meats
  • Commercially prepared or cured meats or fish (bacon, ham, sardines for example)
  • Hot dogs
  • Ketchup, pickles or olives
  • Broth or soups
  • Crackers, chips, popcorn, pretzels
  • Canned vegetables or other packaged convenience foods
  • Breads made with self-rising flour or biscuit mixes
  • Salted nuts
  • Commercial salad dressings
  • Instant cooked cereal
  • Sauces that are commercially prepared

    Consult with your veterinarian for more information and recommendations.

    Pets afflicted with heart failure or high blood pressure should not be fed salty foods, as they cause fluid to be retained in the body and make it harder for the heart to work.  They also can lead to fluid developing in the lungs (pulmonary edema).  Most commercial dog foods have a decent level of sodium, although some have high levels, such as Hill's S/D. Pets that have non-life-threatening heart problems don't necessarily need to be restricted on sodium, but you still should keep an eye on whether the food you're feeding your pet has overly-high sodium levels. Once a pet has had an episode of congestive heart failure or has hypertension, the diet should be restricted in sodium.

    Most commercial dog foods have a sodium content of 1.0 gram per 1000 KCal . This description is just a way to measure the relative sodium content without having to calculate whether it is a canned or dry food. 1.0 gram is actually ten times the amount really needed by pets. As it turns out, dogs like salty foods just like we do!!

    Often veterinarians will recommend a renal diet (one made for kidney problems) for heart patients as these diets are restricted in sodium (0.3 gram per KCal) and heart patients usually become kidney patients eventually.  There is a diet made by Hill's specifically for heart patients (H/D) that has 0.23 gram of sodium per KCal, and in some cases veterinary cardiologists may recommend this.

      You should review the label of the pet food you are feeding to see if the percentage of sodium is listed. Usually it is not on the label, as it is not required to be listed, but you can contact the manufacturer to ask for the sodium content.  Remember, to compare, the sodium content should be given in grams per KCal.

    In order to administer medications, many people use Pill PocketsTM made by GreeniesTM.  These are tasty pillowcase-shaped products used to hide pills for dogs or cats. The Canine Pill PocketsTM are high in sodium, so it is better to use the Feline Pill PocketsTM for both dogs and cats.

     With advances in veterinary medicine, many heart patients can live happily and without symptoms for years.  It is up to you to make sure their diet is a good one!! 

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Testimonial

Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

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