The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Ingestion of Homemade Play Dough, Ornaments, Rock Salt, or Table Salt, Can Cause Salt Poisoning in Dogs The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Ingestion of Homemade Play Dough, Ornaments, Rock Salt, or Table Salt, Can Cause Salt Poisoning in Dogs

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Ingestion of Homemade Play Dough, Ornaments, Rock Salt, or Table Salt, Can Cause Salt Poisoning in Dogs

What is Salt Poisoning? 

In most cases, if your dog consumes too much salt, he will drink water to combat the effects and no damage will be done. However, if there is no water available to your dog, or if your dog ingested an extreme amount of salt in a short time, the cells in the body will start to release water to even out the levels of salt in the blood. This causes the destruction of brain cells due to the lack of water, creating neurological symptoms like dizziness, headache, and seizures. The most often reported reasons for salt poisoning in dogs is ingestion of homemade play dough, ornaments, rock salt, or table salt. It can also be caused by a lack of fresh water, frozen water sources, or a malfunctioning automatic waterer. 

Too much salt in the blood (hypernatremia) can cause the muscles to lose moisture, shrivel, and become stiff, which will create shaking and jerking. The most serious symptoms of salt poisoning are neurological. Some of those symptoms are convulsions, coma, and death. Sodium chloride causes the brain cells to dry out due to the release of water from the cells used to dilute the salt in the bloodstream. Dehydration is imminent without the opportunity to drink enough fresh water, which brings more serious effects: fast heartbeat, fainting, confusion, and difficulty breathing. If you think your dog has ingested a large amount of salt, call your veterinarian whether your dog shows any symptoms or not. 

Although salt (sodium) is a natural substance that your dog’s body needs, too much can cause serious illness or even be fatal. Sodium toxicity is caused by sodium chloride, which is used to maintain the levels of water in the body; an essential part of your dog’s metabolic system. 

Symptoms of Salt Poisoning in Dogs 
There are many signs of salt poisoning in dogs, which may be neurological, gastrointestinal, or even cardiovascular. The most common signs are extreme thirst and urination, which are what usually saves your dog’s life if there is plenty of fresh water to drink. This is because the water dilutes the salt in the blood, and it is cleansed from the body in the urine. The symptoms of salt poisoning most often reported are: 

  • Coma 
  • Confusion 
  • Convulsions Death 
  • Extreme thirst and urination 
  • Fluid buildup 
  • Headache 
  • High fever Increased heart rate (tachycardia) 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Nausea 
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizures 
  • Stomach pains 
  • Tongue swelling 
  • Vomiting
  • Walking like intoxicated
  • Watery diarrhea Weakness 

Causes of Salt Poisoning in Dogs 
A large amount of salt in your dog’s blood can cause sodium poisoning if your dog eats enough of it and has no fresh water to drink. 

These are some of the ways your dog can get sodium poisoning: 

  • Frozen water source 
  • Broken automatic waterer 

Also the consumption of many items that may be found around the home can cause salt poisoning. 

  • Homemade play dough or ornaments 
  • Ocean water 
  • Paintballs 
  • Rock salt 
  • Soy sauce 
  • Table salt 

Diagnosis of Salt Poisoning in Dogs 
A thorough physical examination will be done, which will include checking your dog’s reflexes, temperature, pulse rate, weight, height, reflexes, blood pressure, respirations, and a quick vision and hearing test. Bring any medical records you have, including your dog’s vaccination records, illness and injury information, and describe any abnormal behavior or appetite. Explain to your veterinarian what you believe your dog consumed, how much, and how long it has been since consumption. List the symptoms you have seen that brought you to the veterinarian in the first place and when they started. 

The tests your veterinarian will need to perform are complete blood count, blood gases, and blood chemistry, and a urinalysis to check your dog’s sodium level. A complete cardiac diagnostic will be done as well. This will include an electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure the electrical impulses in your dog’s heart, radiographs (x-rays), MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound to determine the extent of the damage to your dog’s brain, heart, and lungs. 

Treatment of Salt Poisoning in Dogs 
Your dog will be admitted to the hospital for oxygen, IV fluid therapy, and electrolytes to manage dehydration. The salt level will have to be brought down gradually because a sudden change in sodium levels can cause a heart attack or cerebral edema (brain swelling). It can take up to three days to bring the levels down to an acceptable range depending on how high your dog’s sodium levels are. This is usually done with warm water enemas every few hours. If cerebral edema is already present, your dog will be given a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone or mannitol to reduce the inflammation. The veterinarian will most likely keep your dog in the hospital for about 24 hours for observation. 

Recovery of Salt Poisoning in Dogs Your veterinarian will probably suggest a diet low in sodium, and this is important to keep the level of sodium in your dog’s blood under control. You will have to return in 30 days for a follow-up blood test to determine sodium level. If there is no sign of hypernatremia, your dog’s prognosis is good as long as there is no damage to the brain, heart, or liver.  Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and continue to take your dog for annual check-ups. 


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