Too much salt can seriously harm your dog. And even a harmless amount of salt for normal dog can prove fatal to one who has heart or kidney issues.
"Where the heck can I get my hands on a bag of low sodium dog food, then!?" you may be asking yourself. Fear not, we got you covered! There are options out there for pets who need a low sodium diet.
We get into all that below...
Our List Of Top 5 Low Sodium Dog Food Brands (Updated List For 2023)
Top Pick: ROYAL CANIN Canine Early Cardiac Dry Dog Food
Pick #2: Hill's Prescription Diet h/d Cardiac Health Dry Dog Food
Pick #3: The Honest Kitchen Beef and Whole Grain Dehydrated Dog Food
Pick #4: Purina Veterinary Diets Canine NF Kidney Function Dry Dog Food
Pick #5: Hill's Prescription Diet h/d Canine Cardiac Health Canned Dog Food
ROYAL CANIN Canine Early Cardiac Dry
Our Top Pick
Hill's Prescription Diet h/d Cardiac Health Dry
Best for Heart
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Dehydrated
With Raw Food Benefits
Purina Veterinary Diets Canine NF Kidney Function Dry
Best for Kidneys
Hill's Prescription Diet h/d Heart Care
Best Wet Food
*Note: The links in the table above, as well as several links in the remainder of the article below, will take you to over to Chewy.com where you can find out more information about the products, such as current prices and customer reviews.
Best Low Sodium Dog Food Brands:
Only Low Salt Dog Food
Pick #1 - ROYAL CANIN Canine Early Cardiac Dry
Our #1 pick for the list of best low sodium dog food brands may not be one of the most popular and fan-favorite dog food brands that you always hear being talked about in the community of dog owners (such as Wellness dog food, Orijen dog food or Blue Buffalo dog food), but that's not what you're looking for anyways.
These aforementioned dog food brands (and more we haven't mentioned) have significantly higher amounts of sodium in them because they're being manufactured for dogs that don't have a specific condition that needs to be catered to, which is obviously not the case with your dog, or else you wouldn't be seeking to feed them low sodium dog food.
When your dog has a specific medical condition that needs to be addressed, this is where veterinary-recommended dog food (like our #1 and #2 picks) come in to shine.
Just like Hill's Cardiac Health Dry Dog Food formula mentioned above in our #2 pick, this dry dog food formula from Royal Canin has been specifically manufactured for dogs that have cardiac problems in mind.
This means that the sodium levels are low as low can be, because any dog food product that's manufactured for dogs with heart problems has to keep blood pressure at a very stable level and has to ensure that the heart workload in dogs is kept to a bare minimum.
In a nutshell, this dog food formula from Royal Canin earns our #1 recommendation spot as the best low sodium dog food available on the market today.
Now, depending on whether or not you're familiar with the suggestions we make on this website when it comes to dog food formulas and brands, this may come as a surprise to you to see us recommend a product from Hill's Pet Nutrition.
Hill's Pet Nutrition is a dog food brand that always gets recommended by a large percentage of veterinarians as a high-quality dog food brand, but has received quite some "heat" these past few years from the dog owners community.
As far as ingredients go, the ingredients list that Hills boasts on their dog food products aren't exactly the most impressive ones, which lead to many people accusing veterinarians of taking a large chunk of a commission in sales in order to promote Hill's Pet Nutrition dog food products.
However, this is subject to a HUGE ongoing debate, and not everyone agrees on this point. Many dog owners continue to feed their dogs dog food products from Hill's Pet Nutrition completely fine, and their pooches are healthy as healthy can be.
As far as low-sodium dog food is concerned, this product from Hill's Pet Nutrition is one of the lowest sodium-containing dog food products on the market today.
And, no wonder this is the case, as this entire dog food product was also designed for dogs that suffer from cardiac problems and MUST consume a low sodium diet, which is the same case as our #1 pick above (noticed a pattern already?).
The reason that Royal Canin was picked ahead of Hill's as our #1 pick is because Royal Canin slightly edges past Hill's as far as the quality of the ingredients list goes.
While Hill's likes to make use of significantly more "filler" in their products, Royal Canin doesn't make use of these "fillers" as much.
All in all, this dog food formula from Hill's is one of the best low sodium dog food you can come across today, but we're adamant that Royal Canin (our #1 recommendation above) has a slightly better formula.
This dog food product from The Honest Kitchen is one of the best low sodium dog food products you will ever get your hands on.
Check out the list of ingredients for yourself and compare that to some of the other, more mainstream dog food products, and you'll see the difference right away.
List of ingredients: Hormone free beef, organic oats, organic barley, organic flaxseed, potatoes, carrots, eggs, apples, parsley, cranberries and spinach, plus vitamin & mineral premix (premix includes tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, thiamine mononitrate).
What do you notice right away? Do you see all these organic ingredients? Did you notice that the main source of high-quality protein in this dog food is hormone-free? Did you notice the plethora of some of the highest quality complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and fruit?
Now, for the part you and I care about most as far as this list goes, let's get to the amount of sodium this dog food contains.
If you were to check the label of this dog food, you'll fine that the amount of sodium it contains is around 0.17%, which means that this dog food is accurately categorized as a low sodium dog food. (For those of you who want to know why this percentage means that this dog food is a low sodium dog food, we'll be talking about this in a section below, so read on).
Sodium And Dog Food Nowadays
With the way everyone's sodium intake nowadays is gradually becoming higher and higher when all they eat is junk food, ready to eat canned/bagged food and highly processed sugary treats and snacks such as chocolate bars and potato chip bags, all this increase in sodium levels entering the body is causing detrimental effects on the health of everyone involved in these bad consumption practices.
Excess Sodium In Our Dog's Diets
The problem is, we as humans know for a fact that excess levels of sodium in our diets is really bad for us, and we aren't stopping at just negatively affecting our own health with the consumption of excess levels of sodium than we should be consuming, we're also exposing our dogs to the same health risks by feeding them diets that are high in sodium levels as well.
And, for those of you reading this and not aware of it yet, excess levels of sodium in your dog's body leads to a lot of health problems and is even accredited to many deaths in dogs each and every year.
A little extra sodium here and there in some foods your dog may be eating may not seem like a huge problem at first, but add everything together and re-do the math, your dog will be eating dangerously high levels of salt in their diet - levels that could very well lead to their death.
Excess Sodium And Health Conditions - A Terrible Combination
And this becomes an exponentially more serious problem for you as a dog owner to deal with and an exponentially more dangerous risk on your dog's well-being if they consume high levels of sodium and they are already diagnosed with conditions like high blood pressure and/or cardiovascular problems. In these cases, what is already a very dangerous practice becomes ten times more dangerous.
What's The Real Goal Here?
Many dog owners miss the forest for the trees when they have a dog at home that suffers from certain health problems that are caused by excess levels of sodium in their dog's diet.
What they do is go searching for medicine and treatment for these health problems, while they haven't covered the most basic of things they should have covered a long time ago, which is feed their dogs a diet consisting of low sodium levels.
And, when it comes to your dog's diet, what's the most important element it's made up of? That's right, those dry dog food bags you buy for your pooch! (Or wet, canned dog food options if that's what you prefer).
Ingredients List Scan
The point is, before you go ahead and try anything else, the first thing you should ever do is run a quick scan on any dog food brand you already feed Fido and make sure that the sodium levels it contains are at minimum levels.
That way, you'll make sure that any health problems that your dog already suffers from that are caused by excess levels of sodium in your dog's diet are now at a higher chance of buzzing off for good.
Meanwhile, if you didn't do this, that would just mean you throwing money down the drain, since you'll potentially be feeding your dog certain dog food formulas that are very high in sodium and giving them medicine at the same time to treat certain conditions that are caused by high levels of sodium in diets. And, obviously, this isn't what you want to do.
So, if you're looking to go the right way about doing this, and are searching for some low sodium dog food because of whatever health reason your dog is going through that requires you to do so, then look no further, you're right where you need to be - the list we put together for you above is all you need to know.
Renowned Dog Food Brands VS Unknown Dog Food Brands
If you go with some of the most renowned and highest-quality dog food brands known in the pet food industry, then you most likely have nothing to worry about, as these manufacturers take the time to carry out the needed research and testing to ensure that any sodium levels they include in their dog food products don't exceed the safe limits.
However, if you go with some of the lower rated and less known dog food brands out there in hopes of saving a few dollars here and there on costs your dog has you pay on a frequent basis, then you're at a much higher risk of having them eat dog food that has much higher sodium amounts than is deemed safe, as these companies don't usually do as extensive research or testing as some of the other companies that have stood the test of time in this industry.
The higher-quality and more renowned dog food brands often make use of higher quality ingredients in their dog food products which contain relatively low amounts of sodium.
Lower-quality dog food brands and variants, on the other hand, often make use of lower quality ingredients in their dog food products. These contain relatively high amounts of sodium in order to save on costs during the production process and be able to offer you their products at a lower cost than those other high-quality dog food brands.
We did the hard work for you and spent hours and hours of research to come back with the above list of the best low sodium dog food brands available on the market for you to choose from, while not forgetting the fact that everyone likes to keep the price at a reasonable range and not go overboard on paying.
Low Sodium Or No Sodium?
When talking about the issue of sodium in your dog's diet, you're bound to get different replies about the subject from different people who hold different opinions about this.
Someone may advise you to completely cut off any and all sodium from your dog's diet, deeming salt as the "most dangerous of devils" that you should avoid at all costs, while another person may tell you that you're fine feeding your dog a certain amount of salt in their diet, above which things start to become dangerous.
Which of the two should you believe? (Hopefully it's just these two opinions you're considering, and you're not considering the third opinion that goes something along the lines of "feed your dog all the sodium there is in the world! It's great for them and nothing bad will happen!", as that couldn't be any more false).
Well, truth be told, it's opinion #2 that's closest to reality. Your dog should as a matter of fact be consuming a certain amount of sodium in their diet, and it's your duty to make sure that the sodium they consume throughout the day from the dog food they eat doesn't exceed that safe amount.
These safe levels of sodium in your dog's diet helps ensure that they're getting a well balanced diet that isn't depriving them of any minerals, as dogs that have deficiencies in certain minerals are also at risk of suffering from certain health problems the same way dogs that receive excess dosage of minerals are.
Of course and depending on the size and weight of your dog, they could be able to tolerate higher amounts of sodium in their diet if they're on the higher side of the scale and are relatively on the larger side.
Again, and as we said above, a high quality dog food brand and formula will take all of these factors and more into consideration and cater to YOUR dog's specific sodium requirements and limitations.
How Much Low Sodium Is Low Enough in Dog Food?
So, with everything we've covered so far in this article, you still may be wondering exactly how much sodium levels in a certain dog food product is considered low enough, as you may be someone that likes to know the ins and outs of everything without taking a "one size fits all" answer.
(Kudos to you for being like that, by the way, as that shows great effort on your part to ensure nothing but the best for your dog. Not many people put in nearly that much effort to get to know the details that matter).
Generally speaking, for a dog food product to be considered as low sodium, it has to offer less than 100 mg of sodium for every portion that's worth 100 calories.
So, depending on the portion size your dog food brand has written on the label, do the math for yourself in order to find out if it's really low sodium or not.
If you get less than 100 mg of sodium for a portion worth 100 calories, then congratulations, you've got yourself a low sodium dog food and are good to go! But, if you do the math and get more than 100 mg of sodium for a portion worth 100 calories, then you've got some serious reconsidering to do, because the current dog food brand (or specific formula) you're giving your pooch is high in sodium.
Another recommendation for sodium levels in dry dog food is that in order for a dry dog food product to be deemed as low sodium, the sodium amounts it contains must be less than 0.3% of its total dry matter.
Anything above 0.3% of total dry matter will mean that the dog food in hand is considered moderate-high in sodium levels.
Again, it must be made very clear that these sodium levels are only a general guideline, the sodium levels in food your dog SHOULD be getting may be far less or far more than 100 mg for every 100 calories worth of dog food, or maybe more than 0.3% of total dry matter of a certain dog food product.
This is why you should always talk to your veterinarian about this first so they give you an exact scientific answer about it.
Why Low Sodium Dog Food?
Here are some of the most common reasons dog owners consider shifting to a low sodium diet for their dogs, comprising of low sodium dog food brands.
- When dogs have heart problems (most common of which is congestive heart failure), getting low amounts of sodium from food is absolutely essential for your dog's life. If they get too much sodium from food, this can literally prove to be fatal.
- Just like problems with their heart, dogs that have problems with their kidneys and/or liver also have their lives at risk if they're fed a high sodium diet.
- High levels of sodium will cause hydration problems in your dog, as even if you're going out of your way to give them high amounts of water to drink throughout the day, they'll remain thirsty because, well, that's exactly what salt does.