“Salt will cause your pet to lose hair.”
“Salt makes your pet dehydrate.”
“Salt is dangerous – it spikes the chances of your pet getting stroke and heart disease!”
As much as the above consequences are potential but they ONLY apply to excessive salt intake in pet food. In fact, any minerals and nutrients are to be taken in moderation and at a balanced amount. An excess or a deficiency of any minerals can lead to health problems in pets. Hence, is salt good for your pet? The answer is definitely – YES! It is one of the most essential minerals that your dogs and cats need to maintain their good health and metabolism. Read on to find out how beneficial this often-misunderstood mineral is in your pet’s diet.
The Basics of Salt
Salt is made up of 39.34% sodium and 60.66% chloride, which are two essential minerals for dogs and cats that play a vital role in maintaining the balance of body fluids, preventing excessive loss of fluid and dehydration, preventing excessive accumulation of fluid (such as oedema and ascites), and regulating the body’s acid-base balance.
Many times, sodium occurs naturally in the form of sodium chloride (also known as “table salt” that is used for cooking and served during meals). You may have come across other types of mineral salts such as sodium phosphate, sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate and sodium tripolyphosphate, but let’s not complicate ourselves. We will only be looking at chloride as it is usually limited in concentration in most foods including pet food. Therefore, in our current context, we will focus on sodium and chloride.
Know The Ratio
With the significant advantages, they both bring to maintain a pet’s good health, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) have set a general recommendation on the minimum level of sodium and chloride content in commercial pet food according to their life stages to ensure your pets get the sufficient amount of the minerals.
|Sodium Requirement||Chloride Requirement|
|Species||Growth and Reproduction||Adult||Maximum||Growth and Reproduction||Adult||Maximum|
|Cat||0.20% min||0.20% min||NR||0.30% min||0.30% min||NR|
|Dog||0.08% min||0.30% min||NR||0.12% min||0.45% min||NR|
Table 1: Sodium and chloride requirement recommended by AAFCO in 2016.
As salt appears in the form of sodium and chloride, the standard inclusion of salt in a pet formula range between 0.25% to 0.50%. From this range, sodium and chloride should be contained in a substantial amount respectively.
|Salt Inclusion in a Pet Formula||0.25%||0.50%|
Table 2: Sodium and chloride contribution to the standard salt inclusion in a pet formula.
Not Too Little, Not Too Much
When your pet’s body is short of sodium and chloride, health problems ensue. Some of them include nervous system deterioration, low blood pressure, restlessness, increased heart rate and acid-base imbalance. It is not wise to reduce the intake of sodium unless your veterinarian has advised you to do so. It is always best to consult a veterinarian to get a recommended intake of sodium in case your pet has underlying diseases such as chronic kidney, liver or congestive heart problems. In this case, you should not entirely omit the sodium content from your pet’s diet. It is to be taken at a controlled amount as your pet’s body system may experience difficulty in regulating the minerals. For instance, if you have reduced sodium intake, the affected organ of your pet, such as the kidney, will not be further burdened. Your pet can enjoy the benefits of sodium without compromising the kidney’s role in regulating minerals in the body.
Sodium may be important, but it does not mean you should give it a boost in pet food. We have mentioned the potential hazard above on what excessive salt intake can bring to your pets. Yes, salt increases your pet’s appetite as it is known for improving palatability up to 0.50% in pet food. However, any inclusion beyond this point will not further improve palatability but naturally leads to food refusals and regurgitation before the possible ingestion of such toxic quantity (normal gag response to protect the pets). Let’s not forget about the possible health risks due to excessive salt intake such as increased blood pressure, causing kidney disease and triggering signs of heart disease.
What You Need to Know
In a nutshell, salt is not a problem in pet food. The problem lies in the amount of intake, not the overall existence of salt in pet food. Hence, it is right to ask, “How much salt should my pet take?” instead of the common question, “Is salt good for my pet?”. It remains the safest and most cost-effective way to supplement two of the essential macro minerals – sodium and chloride, in a pet food diet. If taken at the right amount according to your pet’s health condition, your pet will thrive in good health. Remember to always seek a veterinarian’s advice to ensure you are feeding your pet right.
At Pet World Nutritions, we know the importance of sodium and chloride in the pets’ diet. Our kibbles have just the right amount of salt to ensure the basic requirements of sodium and chloride are met. Our range of pet food strictly follows the guidelines provided by internationally recognised bodies like AAFCO and FEDIAF. All products are manufactured through professional salt testing in our lab to ensure our formulated kibbles have the right amount of the two essential nutrients that are safe and beneficial for pets’ consumption.