Pet food myth busters – is SODIUM bad for dogs?
What you should know about sodium
Sodium is a macromineral, which means a dog needs to consume relatively large amounts compared to microminerals to stay healthy.
Sodium together with potassium plays an important role as electrolyte providing positive ions that power many metabolic processes, like
- maintaining blood in alkaline (dog’s blood pH scale is about 7.3 ~ 7.4, they need sodium and potassium to maintain pH>7)
- maintaining proper fluid (electrolyte) balance in the cells
- promoting nerve and muscle function
- stabilizing enzymes activity in body
- nerve conduction
- absorption and transportation of nutrients
- urinary function of kidney
Because of various reasons above, it is not recommended to have prolonged low-sodium diet for a healthy dog.
Sodium content in pet food
When Real Power’s nutritionists are formulating pet food, we calculate whether the formula is electrolyte balance, which is so-called “dietary electrolyte balance, dEB”, using below calculation
Sodium (Na+) + Potassium (K+) – Chloride (Cl-) (unit: mEq/kg)
Normally the dEB value falls between 100 to 400 mEq/kg in terms of dog. If the value is higher or lower than standard, it will lead to difficulty for small intestines to absorb nutrient, shrinkage of villi, diarrhea, abnormal blood pH, lose bone density, and other symptoms affecting body health. Moreover, research showed that proper dEB can postpone or relieve hip dysplasia. Therefore, sodium is not the only mineral to be considered, but other mineral like potassium and chlorine should be taken into consideration as well.
Regarding sodium content for each of our Real Nature Recipe dog food, it may vary depend on different meat and amount used in each formula, which normally fall between 0.3-0.4%. In general, the higher the meat content, the higher the sodium. Furthermore, if seafood is added (for example salmon or scallop), the pet food sodium content will higher than that of poultry one. Besides, sodium in seafood may vary because of different fishing season and process.
As sodium plays such an important role in body health, it should not be too low in sodium when it comes to functional dog food that designed for better nutrient absorption and intestinal health. Also because of the natural sodium in meat, it is not possible for a high in meat pet food to have very low sodium content.
Here’s some common cases for reference.
- Mid-to-low-priced pet food: A formula with 50% corn, 30% normal chicken meal, the sodium is about 0.12% with no additional salt added. If looking for lower sodium content (e.g., 0.09%), adjustment like more plant-based ingredients or less meat is required in this case, which is also not a suitable product for a paw parent pursuing high quality pet food.
- Holistic petfood: A formula with 50% dehydrated chicken, 20~30% plant-based ingredients (e.g., corn or other non-grains), the sodium will be at least 0.25%. If wild-caught fish or scallop is added, the sodium may reach 0.4%.
No matter which brand you choose, the sodium content should be lower than maximum intake 1.5%.
In case of Real Power, because of high meat percentage in each of our product, there is no extra salt needed, simply by using natural ingredient can satisfy pets bodily.
Let’s have a look of sodium content in each of our Real Nature Recipe dog food.
No.1 PRAIRIE Lamb 0.28~0.35%
No.2 FOREST Chicken 0.29~0.35%
No.3 OCEAN Salmon 0.30~0.40%
No.4 RIVER Duck 0.30~0.35%
No.5 LAKE Turtle 0.35~0.40%
* Figures below is the set value when formulating, it may be slightly affected by natural meat source.
Is low-sodium diet suitable for every dog?
If a dog has some specific health issues, like kidney, liver, or heart diseases, a restricted-sodium diet might be needed. However, when the situation improved, the sodium intake should be gradually adjusted to a moderate level for maintaining proper body functions. In general, most pet food brands that are complete and balanced will consider sodium content when formulating to make sure it is a safe amount for daily consume.
Read more: Sodium restriction for dog or cat with cardiac disease