5 Best Low Sodium dog food 2019 – Sodium Exposed!

KRISTIE LEE

Sodium – Villain or Superhero?

Sodium seems to be the culprit, sure.  We Humans develop Sodium- related High Blood Pressure (or Hypertension) – but what about our Humanimals?

Actually this rarely seems to be the case for our dogs. 

A related study says Hypertension isn’t a problem for dogs – although their kidneys may come under pressure.  Healthy dogs are usually able to excrete excess sodium in their urine. 

So when is there a real need for Low-Sodium Dog Food? And what should we be looking for?

QUICK NAV Top 5 PicksSodium Packs a Punch!Will Salt Kill my Dog?Congestive Heart FailureLiver IssuesKidney ProblemsWho are the Victims?Optimal Daily Allowance for a Low-Sodium DietWhat to Look for in Low-Sodium FoodsBaddie FoodsFull Reviews Top 5 Best Low Sodium Dog Food

Dog in Superman costume

Our Top 5 Picks – The Superheroes! 

chewy promo brown dog
  • (Our full review is further down. Click on the links above for current prices or to read customer reviews)

Sodium Packs a Punch!

Hey, we all need Sodium as an essential nutrient for life.  

After all, Sodium is a necessary mineral for: 

  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Acid/base balance 
  • Electrolyte balance
  • To transmit impulses in the nerves, muscles, cells, and brain. 

Sodium deficiency can actually be a serious problem.

It is important to ensure that the dry food comes with at least 0.3% of Sodium – this is the minimum recommended level recommended by the American Association of Feed Control (AAFC).

Natural sources of Sodium include:

  • Red meat 
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs  

Sodium is usually added to commercial dog food in the form of Table Salt, as a flavour enhancer.  For most dogs, this isn’t a problem unless health issues are present.  

The “Baddie” Exposed – Will Salt Kill my Dog?

Excessive Sodium

Black dog's nose

Overdosing on Salt is toxic for dogs.

High levels of Sodium in a dog’s blood are linked to the condition known as Hypernatremia

This condition is seen in a major loss of water through the gastrointestinal tract.  This results in high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease.

POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS:

  • Confusion 
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Extreme urination
  • Too much or too little water intake

Notify your vet immediately. Treatment usually involves fluid therapy, and the recommendation of a Low-Sodium diet.

Why go with the “Caped Crusader” Low Sodium?

Health Problems Needing A Low Sodium Diet

Congestive Heart Failure

This can be the result of a congenital defect, or even from parasites such as heartworms.  It can also be due to a bad diet or lack of exercise.

Congestive Heart Failure causes fluid build up in the body, and Salt makes this worse. 

It’s also harder for them to process Sodium ions.

POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing 
  • Decreased energy levels

Have him checked out at the vet promptly.

dog on brown rug

Liver Issues

This may be the result of congenital defects, infectious diseases such as Hepatitis, or endocrine disorders such as Diabetes.

Liver problems from poisons:

  •  Antifreeze
  • Alcohol
  • Herbicides

See your vet immediately. Treatment depends on the cause, eg diuretics or enemas to flush the toxins from the system. Recovery from both the acute problems and from chronic failure can include a diet low in Sodium and protein.

Kidney Problems

This can come with old age or genetics. Kidney problems can be diet-related, or the result of poisoning.

Salt makes us thirsty! And our dogs too. 

Sodium will build up water retention. Excessive water can lead to high blood pressure and increase the stress on already strained kidneys. 

POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS:

  • Change in your dog’s water consumption or urination 
  • Weight loss 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

Consult your vet.  A good renal diet will have less Sodium. The amount of protein should also be lower than usual, as higher amounts increase the stress on his organs.

Dog with brown eyes

So Who are the Victims of the Villain High Sodium?

Often it’s Senior Dogs.

Osteoporosis is very common for senior dogs and reducing salt intake can assist with muscle strength.

If your dog is a senior or if it has organ issues, Sodium makes a major difference – we may need to monitor their food. This may also be the case for dogs with poor nerve or muscle function. 

A Serious Consideration 

If your dog has: 

  • Started to gain weight? 
  • Been diagnosed with a severe heart, kidney, or liver condition? 

In consultation with your vet, changing his diet may include an essential transition to a low-sodium regime.

“DID YOU KNOW?”

Weight management formulas usually have less Sodium than normal dog foods.

What is the Optimal Daily Allowance for a Low- Sodium Diet?

The American Association of Feed Control (AAFC) don’t give a maximum acceptable quantity of Sodium.  Neither do Dog Food manufacturers!

The National Research Council of the National Academies suggests a recommended maximum allowance of 200mg Sodium per day.

How to measure Sodium yourself: 

Look at each 100kCal/ Calories as a unit of measurement.

Always consider the following in consultation with your vet.

Vermont Vetinary Cardiology recommends:

  • No Sodium restriction: 0.5% Sodium (>100mg/100kCal)
  • Mild Sodium restriction: 0.35% – 0.5% Sodium (80 – 100mg/100kCal)
  • Moderate Sodium restriction: 0.1% – 0.35% Sodium (50 – 80mg/100kCal)
  • Marked Sodium restriction: 0.15% – 0.2% Sodium (40 – 50 mg/100kCal)
  • Extreme Sodium restriction: 0.075%-0.15% Sodium (20 – 40 mg/100kCal)

Look! Is it a Bird? A Plane? No! It’s Low Sodium Dog Food!

What to Look for in Low-Sodium Dog Foods

3 Macro-nutrients:

PROTEIN 

A balanced amount of protein in the diet benefits muscle tone, skin and coat quality.

By-products are all heavily processed, with who-knows-what in them! A scary thought. Generic meat-meals may also cause allergic reactions.

HANDY HINT

Adding cooked eggs to your dog’s meal will improve nutrition and taste.

NATURAL FATS

Healthy natural fats contain Omega fatty acids, essential for a dog’s skin and fur.  

QUALITY CARBOHYDRATES

Whole grains provide more fiber.  Slow-burning energy will avoid unhealthy blood sugar spikes.

To provide your dog with daily energy, it’s best to go for nutritious carbs:  

  • Oatmeal 
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa 
  • Tapioca
  • Barley

 Look for foods rich in antioxidants like colorful fruits and vegetables.

Be aware that corn, wheat, and soy have been known to cause allergic reactions such as bloat. They can cause dogs to gain weight or even become malnourished.

 Before you jump into a grain-free diet

Check out recent reports from the FDA about Grain-Free diets causing possible heart problems in dogs. This is apparently due to the replacement of grains with lots of potatoes, peas, beans or lentils. 

Baddie Foods (on the “Wanted” list)

MSG  

Monosodium Glutamate is a Sodium Salt used for flavor and as a preservative.  This Baddie is especially found lurking in cheap, heavily processed food and treats. It has been known to cause serious symptoms in dogs. 

nitrates

Nitrates are used to preserve many meat items, eg ham, bacon, deli meats, and hot dogs.

Sodium Nitrate is an FDA – approved preservative.  When it exceeds 8 mg/kg, it can cause Methemoglobin, a canine blood disorder. This Baddie may also increase the chance of cancer.

Tempting as it may be…

Don’t share your chips with your dog!! Same goes for those pickles. And put away that pizza! Keep it for your breakfast.

A big source of Sodium is human food.

Tricky Treats

All those handy Dog Treats might have to be watched for Sodium content.

Additives 

Watch out for color, preservatives and flavor additives. They make your kids spin out, it’s the same for your dog!

fULL REVIEWS -The Super Heroes

OUR PICK OF THE BEST LOW SODIUM DOG FOOD

We searched the Internet and sorted through stacks of customer reviews just to bring these to you! Here they are…

1. Veterinary Diets Purina (Pro Plan) NF Kidney Function OUR RATING 5 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

PROS-

  • Low Sodium and phosphorus so helpful for a variety of conditions requiring general Low – Sodium restriction 
  • Restricted amount of high-quality protein
  • Vet recommended
  • Purina NF very successful with Senior dogs
  • Cheaper by comparison to other Kidney Function Dog Food
  • Customers find their dog isn’t affected by the transition to Purina NF
  • Reviewers find it helps keep stable lab levels, blood tests come back improved
  • Customers find Purina NF pieces are slightly larger than the Hill’s dry kidney food, and don’t give their dog gas like Hills.
  • Arrives fresh and in sturdy packaging.
  • People find that it causes zero problems even for dogs with very sensitive tummies.
  • Many people observe their dog is “back to their normal self”

CONS – 

  • Needs a vet prescription for Purina NF so could be an inconvenience
  • Some poor quality ingredients such as corn and sugar
  • Some people notice a fake “smoked” smell 
  • Chunks in Purina may be too big for smaller dogs
  • Some reviewers find their dog won’t eat Purina.
chewy promo brown dog

2. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food OUR RATING 4 3/4 stars! Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

PROS – 

  • Excellent whole-food based nutrition for any dog with health issues and requiring a Low-Sodium diet.
  • People noticed their dog didn’t need to eat as much as they did with other dog foods and had less poop.
  • Owners of Bulldogs reported their dogs ate Ziwi enthusiastically.
  • Bulldogs that normally had severe allergies were fine with Ziwi.
  • People with senior Pitbulls found Ziwi great for them, and one of the few products they still ate.
  • Reviewers said Ziwi gave their Pitbull a beautiful coat.
  • “Bambi in a bag”!
  • Customers said stool volume was way down
  • Some noticed better smelling breath
  • Skin was improving, and nibbling and paw chewing was lessening.
  • Unlike most Grain-Free dog food products, that are stuffed with cheap fillers like potatoes and legumes (beans and peas)
  • One customer stated, “I think the lack of vet bills will cover the food bill”.

CONS – 

  • Ziwi can be more expensive than other dog foods.
  • Can have a strong smell
  • Some dog owners found that if the packet wasn’t fresh Ziwi could be harder for their dog to chew.
  • Venison pieces were reported to be difficult to digest.
  • Some customers were shocked by the price increase in venison.
  • Some people found the product arrived white-ish, or fine like sand, and were unsure why.

3. Royal Canin Veterinary Early Cardiac OUR RATING 4 1/2 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

PROS-

  • Reviewers say their vet changed their dog’s food to Royal Canin because it has less Sodium.
  • People pick Royal Canin because it is “by far the lowest” in Sodium.  It contains moderate, rather than severe, sodium restriction to reduce the workload on the heart.
  • People say in their comments that their dog’s heart symptoms like cough and low energy changed after being on this food.
  • Reviewers who have a dog with Congestive Heart Failure are happy with Royal Canin. They say that finding low salt food is difficult, but are pleased with Royal Canin knowing their dog is getting great nutrition.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy cardiovascular function
  • Customers report Royal Canin is loved even by super picky eaters.

CONS-

  • Need a prescription so could be an inconvenience
  • The kibble size in Royal Canin is a bit big for smaller breed dogs
  • Is reported to have an odd smell
  • Some customers report their dog doesn’t like the taste or the smell of Royal Canin.

4. Zignature Whitefish Limited Ingredient Dry Low Sodium OUR RATING 3 1/2 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

PROS-

  • An all-round good quality Low-Sodium dog food.
  • Customers state Zignature really helps their dog with allergies such as itchy skin, due to the Limited Ingredient formula.
  • Reviewers find their dogs love all the fish flavours. These are optimal for healthy Omega-3 fats for skin and coat health etc.
  • People observe their dog regained lost weight and has a sleek and shiny coat with Zignature.
  • Customers are happy with the clean ingredients list.
  • Picky eaters enjoy Zignature.
  • Zignature seems to be free from cheap fillers and unnecessary carbs.

CONS-

  • Some customers find their Bulldogs get allergic reactions with this flavour of Zignature.
  • Some Reviewers find their dogs refuse to eat Zignature or are unenthusiastic.
  • The pieces are too big for some dogs
  • Some people found their dog had more poo after eating Zignature.

5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food OUR RATING 3 1/2 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

PROS-

  • Weight Management formulas are often designed with a Low-Sodium diet in mind.
  • Customers feel that Blue Buffalo definitely has the higher quality ingredients and is better quality premium dog food. Less by-products than others
  • People find their dog really enjoys eating Blue Buffalo
  • Reviewers comment that their dogs are sleek and healthy on this food.

CONS-

  • May be more costly by comparison
  • Some people find their dogs are thirsty with this food.
  • customers report that their dogs don’t lose weight with this formula.
  • Some stomach discomfort reported
  • Some reviewers notice their dogs have a lack of interest in the food

So here’s our Winner!

Our Clear Pick of the Best Low Sodium Dog Food is…

1. Veterinary Diets Purina (Pro Plan) NF Kidney Function OUR RATING 5 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

Purina (Pro Plan) Kidney function is simply the best for Low-Sodium dog food while meeting the standard for quality nutrition.  Purina is helpful for a variety of conditions requiring general Low – Sodium restriction and will be great for those caring for Senior dogs as well. 

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THE TAIL END

So sure, we need Sodium to keep our dogs (and us) healthy!

But all too often we end up in overdose with our modern lifestyle and food choices. 

If we’re aware of certain health conditions our dogs might have, we can look into how to address this. In consultation with our vet, we can make informed choices about appropriate Low – Sodium restrictions and diet.

By the way… 

Check this out!

Fruitables Beef Broth Bowl Pet Safe Natural Food Topper Low Sodium Click for price on Amazon

Fruitables helps to dress up a meal when your dog is having a Fussy Day!

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