dog trainer with treat and small black dog

Top five: best low sodium dog food

Changing your dog’s diet can be difficult. But if your vet has recommended a low sodium diet, you’ll want to pick the best low sodium dog food. You’ll need to consider the dry and wet food, treats, and anything you feed your dog from the table. If you live in a rural area and allow your dog to be unsupervised, they may forage a bit too. For a picky dog (like mine!) transitioning to a different type of food requires some experimentation. Expect a bit of trial and error to find the right low sodium food for your pupper. 

How much sodium is recommended per day for most dogs?

Naturally, your dog’s size, breed, age, and health conditions will dictate the amount of all nutrients that they need. The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) states that adult dogs require a minimum of 0.3% or about 100mg per 100kcal. All you really need to know is that typically dog food in the US will be produced with at least this amount. For a typical dog, if you follow the recommended feeding, the amount of sodium in commercially produced dog food will contain appropriate levels of sodium. Unless of course, it is labeled as low sodium. 

Be sure not to cut back on sodium unless it is recommended by your veterinarian. Dogs do need this mineral and it is essential for good health. There are actually cases of sodium deficiency that can occur in some dogs.

dog beside food shaped toys

When do dogs need low sodium dog food?

The short answer is whenever the vet recommends it! 

Like those of us who eat pork, dogs would love to chomp on salty bacon all day long. Obviously, this is not recommended. But hey, salt is tasty! You might need to lower sodium if you have been rather indulgent in treating your pup to salty foods or your dog has become overweight. Talk to your vet about what you regularly feed (and treat!) your dog too if you are concerned about his or her sodium levels. 

Health conditions that can make it difficult for dogs to process sodium 

According to IAMS some conditions that may result in a low sodium recommended diet are:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive body fluid accumulation

It is important to note, elderly dogs may be more likely to have these conditions. But, just because a dog is elderly does not mean a low sodium diet is right for them. 

woman giving dog treats on a trail

What should you look for when buying a low sodium dog food?

Like any dog food, you want to make sure your dog enjoys the taste. You probably have an idea of what your dog’s preferences are, so that is a good place to start. If you know your dog loves beef and carrots and only likes some lamb foods (mine does!), try the beef and carrots to start. It’s also a good idea in general, to keep all of your dog’s protein the same. This means if your dog likes beef, for example, buy beef treats, wet food, and dry food. If your dog ever becomes allergic to his or her food, it will be easier to switch and rule out offending ingredients. I don’t have a source for this, it’s just some of the dog facts I have sucked up as a dog lover over the years. But dogs do appreciate variety so be sure to include some interesting flavors from time to time.

Quality ingredients and budget are important considerations too. Always purchase the best food you can afford for your pets. Always make sure the first ingredient is the main protein source, and that it is produced in a country with strong food safety laws. Finally, if your vet has recommended a specific brand and it is within your budget, always buy this type of food. If it is a more expensive brand, ask your vet for alternatives that might be more in line with your bottom line. Be sure to switch your dog’s food gradually, to avoid any stomach upset. 

Top five best low sodium dog food

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach

 

Purina Pro Plan Salmon Rice Sensitive FormulaPurina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach dog food

I am definitely a fan of Purina products, this brand is what my vet has recommended for my 4-year-old lab mix Thor. I know that it is of high quality since my vet has recommended it to me. If your dog has a health concern that has led your vet to recommend cutting down sodium, it is likely they have some symptoms associated with that concern. For some dogs, this might include itchy skin and a sensitive tummy. If that is the case, a low sodium food designed for pups with a sensitive stomach and skin might be a good choice. Check price here.

Pros

  • Good for dogs with sensitive stomach and skin
  • Vet recommended
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Manufactured in USA (strict food safety regulations)
  • Dry and wet food available
  • If your dog is sensitive, an allergy may be suspected so switching to a less conventional protein (fish) may rule out a chicken or beef allergy

Cons

  • Salmon and rice is the flavor recommended as low sodium here, other flavors of this dog food may not be low sodium
  • Some dogs do not enjoy fishPurina Smartblend Natural Classic Chicken

Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken and Brown Rice

Purina One Smartblend Chicken and Brown Rice

This is a general dog food, which I was surprised to learn is low sodium. It is widely available online and in grocery and pet supply stores and is very budget-friendly. I like that Purina always has the main protein as the first ingredient, and is manufactured in the US. Check price here.

Pros

  • Good for all life stages
  • Good for dogs who are generally in good health but need to reduce sodium
  • Widely available and budget-friendly
  • Wet food is also available from this brand and flavor 

Cons

  • This food is not designed to support any other specific health conditions your dog may have

Purina One Smartblend Puppy dog food

Purina ONE Natural Dry Puppy Food, SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Formula

Purina Smartblend Natural Health Puppy

Puppy foods are designed to have additional protein. A growing puppy needs a little extra to make sure that their muscles develop well. Plus, they tend to be extra energetic little balls of fun! This means the calorie requirement is a bit higher in the younger years. If your vet has recommended a low sodium diet for your puppy, chat with them about this option. Check price here.

Pros

  • Good for puppies who need to reduce sodium intake
  • Purina one is vet recommended 
  • Wet food also available from this brand and flavor
  • Widely available online and in stores
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Not suitable for dogs at other life stagesimpressions

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin, Original Chicken

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food

If you are looking for a low sodium food, for a dog with a sensitive stomach or skin, who doesn’t enjoy salmon, this could be an option. My dog is very picky when it comes to salmon, and he will only eat certain dog foods that have it. He would definitely be more likely to enjoy chicken! If your dog is regularly eating chicken, and you are looking for a low sodium alternative, this could be a good option. Check price here.

Pros

  • Good for all life stages
  • Good for dogs who are generally in good health but need to reduce sodium
  • Vet recommended 
  • Designed to support dogs with sensitive stomach and skin issues

Cons

  • Chicken is the flavor recommended as low sodium here, other flavors of this dog food may not be low sodium
  • The wet version of this flavor is not available 

Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food, Beef & Barley

Hills Science Diet Food Canned Beef and BarleyHills Science diet food canned beef and barley
This is a good option if you like Hill’s Science Diet dry food listed above, and are looking for a wet food to compliment it. They are not the same flavor (this one is beef) but dogs do enjoy a bit of variety. This also boots additional omega-6s and vitamin E which support healthy skin and coat. Check price here. 

Pros

  • Good for all life stages
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Contains extra omega-6s and vitamin E
  • Made in the USA with global ingredients (strict food safety laws)
  • Veterinarian recommended brand

Cons

  • Beef Barley is the flavor recommended as low sodium here, other flavors of this dog food may not be low sodium

Number one best low sodium dog food overall

Out of all these options, my favorite is Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken and Brown Rice. I was surprised to learn that this is a low sodium option, but it is also suitable for dogs who do not need to reduce sodium. To me, this suggests it is a very nutrient-dense and very tasty food for most dogs. I like that it is general, and can be fed to all types of dogs at all life stages. Perhaps there are different levels of sodium reduction, and this one contains a more moderate amount. I suspect if your dog needed a very strict sodium reduction, your vet would probably have a very specific food in mind.

These dog foods are definitely designed for dogs with different needs. If your dog has more specific needs, or you are looking for something specifically formulated for your dog’s breed you probably want to do a little more research. You can check out this list for recommendations from Tuff’s University School of Veterinary Medicine and discuss options with your vet. Always aim to choose a dog food that suits your unique dog.

 

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