What Is Sodium?
Sodium, which also goes by the name of Salt, is a natural compound found in food. It is often added to human food to improve its flavor, and it can also be used to increase the shelf life of foods, especially meat and fish.
Sodium is a vital part of a dog’s diet as it is needed to maintain the electrolyte balance of the body. It is also important in nerve and muscle function.
What Dogs Need A Low Sodium Diet?
Generally speaking, dogs should not consume overly high levels of Salt in their diet. However, certain dogs need a level of Salt that is lower than this baseline level.
One of these groups of dogs is those that suffer from Congestive Heart Failure. Congestive Heart Failure is a condition where the heart is unable to pump blood adequately to the body. As you may imagine, this can cause serious health problems for the dog in question and even death. Symptoms are persistent coughing and difficulty breathing.
As part of treatment for these conditions, veterinary professionals will often recommend a diet with a reduced level of Salt.
High Blood Pressure is a more straightforward condition and one that many dog owners will be familiar with. While not common, it can affect dogs. Reducing salt intake is one of the simplest and straightforward to implement treatments that a dog owner can perform.
The Difficulty Of Tracking Sodium Intake For Dogs
Tracking sodium intake for dogs can be an incredibly challenging task. The main reason behind this is that the vast majority of dog food products do not list the percentage of sodium they contain.
Without this information at your disposal, it is impossible to do any kind of calculation or estimate.
In addition, some of the brands that are willing to provide this information do not do so easily, and you often have to contact them directly to acquire it.
As the regulations increase around dog food nutrition and ingredients, we hope the level of Salt becomes a regular feature on dog food packaging.
How Much Sodium Should A Dog Consume?
This is a tricky question to answer and depends on a number of factors. However, below is some general guidelines. If you need a more specific estimate, we recommend you contact a veterinary professional.
- Dogs with no sodium restrictions require food with at least 0.5% sodium content (>100mg sodium/100kCal)
- Dogs who require mild sodium restriction should be offered foods with between 0.35% and 0.5% sodium content (80 to 100mg/100kCal)
- Dogs who require moderate sodium restriction should only receive foods with between 0.1% and 0.35% sodium content (50 to 80mg/100kCal)
- Dogs who require severe sodium restriction should be offered food with less than 0.1% sodium content (<50mg/100kCal)
Which Dog Food Ingredients Are Naturally Low In Sodium?
Learning about the natural sodium content in foods is often a difficult and arduous task. However, we are going to outline which of the common foods found in dog food are naturally low in sodium.
Whole Lean meat cuts tend to contain lower levels of sodium. While you may think this is straightforward, it is not that simple. The trouble comes as most lean cuts of meat that you can purchase from the grocery store are often soaked in liquid or injected with Salt and other preservatives.
However, as the ingredients in dog food do not need to be on display or be preserved for a length of time in a fridge, they tend to have Salt added.
Rice is another ingredient that is naturally low in Salt. Rice is found in a huge range of dog food recipes with the famous Chicken and Rice combo being a particular favorite of many.
Eggs are a fantastic addition to any dog food recipe, but they are also beneficial for dogs looking for low sodium intake.
What Foods Are High in Sodium?
The vast majority of processed foods designed for human consumption are high in sodium. Common examples of these types of foods could include Potato Chips, Condiments, and mass-produced Bread.
Regardless of their high sodium content, we do not recommend you feed your dog food that is designed for humans on a regular basis.
Regular and prolonged feeding of human food to dogs can lead to health problems such as Diabetes and Obesity.
Thankfully most ingredients found in dog food at not naturally high in Salt, and a high salt level usually indicates the manufacturer has added this during production.
Best Low Sodium Dog Foods
Wellness Core Original Review
Wellness is a reputable brand that has been featured on shelves for decades. While some premium brands have moved away from large retail stores or websites, Wellness has stuck around and is readily available at stores like PetSmart. Their Core range is one of their most popular and features a variety of formulas for adult dogs and puppies.
While we usually showcase some of their fish-based recipes, we believe their Original recipe is best suited for dogs who need a low sodium diet. The recipe has a sodium level of 0.22%, which is extremely low for a recipe that isn’t designed for low-sodium diets.
The recipe has a strong focus on poultry ingredients like Turkey, Turkey Meal, and Chicken Meal. These meat meal ingredients are very dense sources of nutrition, high in protein and fat.
The recipe then uses a mix of starch and legume ingredients, including Peas, Potatoes, and Lentils, to provide carbohydrates and fiber.
The recipe also includes Tomato Pomace, which is a regular addition to many dog food recipes. It is added to boost the levels of soluble fiber, which can help digestion and stools. Read more in our article, Tomato Pomace, as a Pet Food Ingredient?.
Taste of the Wild is a hugely popular brand, and they feature on the stores of a vast number of pet food stores as well at online retailers like Chewy and Amazon. Their product range isn’t as broad as some of their competitors, but their recipes are very consistent, and many swear by them.
Their wetlands recipe is the best choice for a low sodium diet. It contains 0.26% sodium content which, as we’ve mentioned, is well suited to most dogs looking for a low sodium diet.
Not only does the recipe provide a low level of sodium, but it also has an impressive nutritional profile. This satisfactory proportion of protein and fat are sourced from the large range of poultry ingredients present in the formula.
Examples include Duck, Chicken, and Turkey. Chicken and Turkey are staples of dog food, and for a good reason, they are cost-effective sources of these vital nutrients.
The formula also includes a mix of legumes, such as Peas and Sweet Potatoes. These sum to a satisfactory proportion of carbohydrates, which is not overly excessive. These ingredients also offer a modest sum of dietary fiber to aid digestion.
Sport Dog Food Working Dog Turkey Formula Review
Sport Dog Food is a brand that many readers will likely not be familiar with. The brand aims to fill the sporting and working dog food niche such as sled dogs, K9 dogs, and tracking dogs. As a consequence, many of their formulas provide very satisfactory nutrition, which is a requirement to ensure that working dogs can perform their jobs and remain active and healthy throughout their working lives.
While there is some variety, Sport Dog Food recipes are consistently low in sodium. The above mentioned Working Dog formula has a sodium level of 0.25%, which is very low.
The recipe has a tiny ingredient list. The primary ingredient is Turkey Meal, which is present in a large portion. This provides the recipes excellent levels of protein and fat, which are a must for a working dog.
The recipe also includes Sweet Potato, Tapioca, and Coconut Meal. These ingredients provide carbohydrates, fiber, and some vitamins and minerals. Tapioca is not an ingredient many in the west are familiar with, but it is popular in South America. Learn more about Tapioca in our article Tapioca In Dog Food.
Nature’s Logic Canine Turkey Meal Feast Review
Nature’s Logic is a lesser-known brand, but their recipes fill an essential niche in the premium and hypoallergenic dog food market. They have seen an increase in popularity thanks to the link between legume use in dog food and Canine Heart Disease.
Nature’s Logic’s dry dog food recipes make use of the grain Millet. While we have a slight preference to other grain ingredients, like Brown Rice and Oatmeal, over Millet, it is still a satisfactory inclusion. Nutritionally, Millet provides carbohydrates, some fiber, and a limited range of vitamins and minerals.
We recommend you check out our article Millet In Dog Food for more information.
The best Nature’s Logic recipe for a low sodium diet is their Canine Turkey Meal Feast. It has a sodium level of 0.31%, which is in line with many others in this article. As you might have guessed, this recipe focuses on Turkey. They use a mix of Turkey Meal and Turkey Fat. This combination provides a satisfactory proportion of protein and fat, which is above-average.
As we mentioned earlier, the recipe uses Millet as its primary plant-based ingredient. Beyond this, there are only minor ingredients included, such as Pumpkin Seeds and Alfalfa. This means this recipe could be an excellent choice for dogs with allergies who also need a reduced salt intake.
Orijen is one of the most popular and famous names in the premium pet food industry. Its formulas are known to contain a large variety of high-quality meat and fish ingredients in extraordinarily high proportions. This can include 10+ meat or fish ingredients in a single formula.
While Orijen does not advertise their recipes as low sodium, some of them comfortably fit into this category. We are able to say this with confidence as Orijen is one of the few brands to give very detailed nutritional information on their recipes.
The above Original recipe contains approximately 0.30% sodium. This is far below average and suitable for most dogs looking for reduced sodium intake.
Outside of its sodium content, this recipe is an excellent choice and contains a range of poultry ingredients, including Chicken, Turkey, Mackerel, and Eggs. This mix of meat, eggs, and fish provides significantly above-average proportions of protein and fat, which should be at the core of every dog’s diet.
The recipe is rounded off with a wide selection of vegetable ingredients. This includes Peas, Lentils, Beans, and more. This selection is typical of Orijen as they do not use starches like Potatoes, or grains like rice.
Victor Ocean Fish Formula With Salmon Review
Victor is another successful brand to feature in this article and one which many of you will be familiar with. Victor is commonly found in local or large pet food stores as well as at a myriad of online retailers like Amazon and Chewy.
One of Victor’s most significant advantages is that they sell their range is very high volumes. This allows Victor to be more affordable as they can take advantage of economies of scale. This approach may appeal to owners of large dogs or multiple dogs who typically have very high expenses.
Our usual favorite Victor recipe is Hi-Pro Plus, but we’ve found another recipe from Victor with lower sodium content. Ocean Fish Formula has a sodium level of 0.30%.
While the formula does include some Salmon, its primary fish ingredient is Menhaden Fish Meal. Many are not familiar with this ingredient, but it an affordable alternative that is still highly nutritious. You can learn more about Menhaden Fish Meal in our article Menhaden Fish Meal in Dog Food.
Victor’s favorite range of grain ingredients are present, which includes Sorghum, Millet, and Brown Rice. These ingredients provide carbohydrates, fiber, and select vitamins and minerals.
GO! Skin + Coat Care – Chicken Review
Go! is one of a number of brands owned by Petcurean. Other examples include Gather and Now Fresh. The Go! range consists of a range of mixers, dry dog food, and wet dog food. They also have formulas for puppies, senior dogs, and dogs attempting weight loss.
With a growing number of dogs experiencing skin and coat problems, many brands have expanded their range to produce recipes that counter this, including Go!. However, this new recipe also happens to be one of Go!’s lowest sodium recipes, which is why we have featured it. It contains a sodium level of 0.31%.
Chicken is the primary ingredient of the formula with Chicken Meal and Chicken, featured as the two first listed ingredients. These will ensure there is a sufficient proportion of animal-based protein and fat.
The recipe uses rice as its core plant-based ingredient, and it uses a mix of Brown and White Rice, which is unusual. Lastly, there are some ingredients added to provide additional micronutrients. This includes Flaxseed and Alfalfa. You can learn more about Alfalfa in our article Alfalfa In Dog Food.
Acana is a brand that many readers will be familiar with. Acana is the sister brand to Orijen, which we discussed earlier in the article. The key difference between Acana and Orijen is that they are notably more affordable while still providing ample nutrition from high-quality ingredients.
However, the benefit of being Orijen’s sister brand is they provide very similar nutritional information, which we can use to see their sodium content.
The Heritage range from Acana was recently expanded and given a facelift. While Heritage – Red Meat isn’t a new recipe, it did get a new name, and it used to be known as Heritage Meats. Heritage Red Meat has a core of red meat ingredients such as Beef, Pork, and Lamb.
While it may come as a surprise, this red meat focused recipe is low in sodium. It has a sodium content of approximately 0.30%, which is suitable for most dogs looking for a reduced-sodium diet.
Beyond the recipe’s red meat content, Heritage Red Meat uses the same vegetable ingredients as the rest of the Acana range. This includes common legumes like Peas, Lentils, and Chickpeas. These ingredients provide carbohydrates and fiber.
Now Fresh Grain Free Red Meat Recipe Review
As we mentioned earlier when discussing Go!, Petcurean owns several other pet food brands, and one of the other brands is Now Fresh. Now Fresh targets itself as a lower-cost alternative, yet it tries to maintain as much quality and nutrition as it can.
The above Red Meat Recipe has the lowest level of sodium of any recipe featured in this article at 0.21%. This level would be suitable for the majority of dogs looking to reduce their sodium intake.
While many would imagine this red meat recipe would focus on Beef, it actually focuses on Lamb with a small portion of Pork also present. Lamb is far less commonly found in dog food thank Beef. However, it is not inferior and still offers excellent nutrition.
The recipe also features Eggs we discussed earlier. Eggs are always an excellent addition to dog food as they are incredibly digestible.
The plant-based ingredients found in this recipe are Potatoes and Peas and some vegetable by-products, including Potato Flour and Pea Flour. Sadly, these by-products are not ideal additions. You can read more about by-products in our article Peas, Pea Protein, Pea Flour, and Pea Fiber in Dog Food.
Fromm Adult Review
Fromm is another well-established brand in North America. They have an extensive range of products that utilize many different meat, fish, and vegetable ingredients.
Fromm has consistently used grain ingredients in its recipes, even during the peak of the grain-free trend. This use of grains in some of their recipes has resulted in low levels of sodium.
The above Adult recipe has a sodium level of 0.28%, which is comfortably into the range that is suitable for dogs needing reduced sodium.
The recipe’s primary ingredients are Chicken and Chicken Meal. This combination of Chicken ingredients provides a satisfactory portion of meat content.
The recipe then uses a mix of grain ingredients, including Brown Rice, Pearled Barley, Oat Groats, and White Rice, to provide carbohydrates, fiber, and select micronutrients.
Sadly, the nutrition provided by this recipe isn’t as impressive as some others in this article, but the proportion of protein and fat may not be your top priority if your dog has other health problems.