Salt toxicity, or hypernatraemia, occurs due to an increase in sodium concentration in the blood. Pets that do not have access to fresh water for long periods, pets that drink large amounts of salt water and pets that eat lots of salty food such as beef jerky or play dough are at risk of developing salt toxicity.
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Mentally dull and depressed
- Behavioural abnormalities (e.g. pressing head against walls, aimless staring at corners)
- Trembling and drooling
- Head bobbing
Salt toxicity is a life threatening condition, seek veterinary attention.
Emergency treatment before transport to a veterinarian
Do not allow your pet to drink a large quantity of water at once, as this can cause vomiting. In addition, if the pet’s salt levels have been high for more than 12 hours, dropping this level quickly can lead to brain swelling and coma.
What to expect at the vet
Intravenous medications to treat seizures and aid in cooling the body if your pet is experiencing heat stress from exercise on a hot day
Blood testing to assess severity of illness, and response to treatment
Hospitalisation and close monitoring of neurological symptoms
Intravenous fluid administration to decrease the concentration of salt in the blood. This often needs to follow strict guideline to do it at the correct rate.
Salt toxicity is a life threatening condition if not treated appropriately.
The associated seizure activity can cause permanent brain damage and heat stroke leading to organ failure. Treatment of this condition can be challenging and costly. However, with appropriate and timely medical therapy, many patients can and will recover.
Always supply your pet with fresh drinking water, especially when exercising and at the beach. Do not allow your pet to ingest large volumes of salt water, either at the beach, the river or from the pool. Keep salty foods out of reach of your pet.
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