Many homeowners with hard water have a water softener to improve the quality of their drinking water. These treatment systems require salt to regenerate the resin, and often times there may be opened bags of salt laying around their house. Pet owners are concerned that this type of salt may be harmful to dogs, but is it really?
Water softener salt is not toxic or poisonous to dogs unless ingested in very large quantities. Despite this risk, it is unlikely your dog would be fatally poisoned by eating too much water softener salt. If your dog eats water softener salt, it might experience stomach pain and vomiting, but other, more serious problems are unlikely to occur. Give your dog plenty of fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration and call your veterinarian if it consumes water softener salt.
In this blog post, we will discuss the safety of water softener salt for dogs and provide some tips for keeping your dog safe.
Other articles about water softeners:
Ultimate Guide to Water Softeners: Everything You Need to Know
10 Tips for Maintaining Your Water Softener
Table of Contents
What is Water Softener Salt?
The primary consumable item in a water softening system is salt. Water softeners use ion exchange resins to remove hardness – calcium and magnesium – from drinking water. When the resin becomes saturated with these minerals, salt is used to restore its treatment capacity.
The hard minerals are removed from the resin through an ion exchange process. The sodium ions from the salt are exchanged with the calcium and magnesium ions that were removed from the hard water.
The salt that is used in your water softener is sold in 50-pound bags that are added to the brine tank every few weeks. Most homeowners purchase enough salt to last for several months. As a result, they store opened bags of salt in their homes, which can be a problem for curious dogs.
Water Softener Salt vs. Normal Salt
Regular table salt, used in everyday cooking, is sodium chloride. This is the same chemical that water softener salt is comprised of. Because the salt is used to process your drinking water, it is “food grade”. This means it is free of contaminants like heavy metals and other toxins.
Some people us potassium chloride salt in their water softener to avoid adding small amounts of sodium to their drinking water. Although not the same as table salt, it is safe for people to ingest small amounts of this type of salt.
Although the same chemically, the salts used in water softeners are different from table salt. Regular table salt is usually supplemented with iodine to provide this important element to humans. In large amounts, iodine can be toxic to dogs. Iodine is not added to water softener salt, making it safe for your dog to ingest.
Concerns with Water Softener Salt and Dogs
Water softener salt is essentially table salt – sodium chloride. Some homes use potassium chloride. What effects do these salts have on your pet?
Read my related articles about water for dogs:
Is Reverse Osmosis Water Good for Dogs? The Definitive Answer
Is It Safe to Give My Dog Brita Filtered Water?
Can Dogs Drink Alkaline Water? The Surprising Answer
Salt is required for your dog’s health
Dogs naturally require sodium in their diet for healthy bodily functions. This electrolyte supports blood pressure stabilization, muscle and neuron function, and fluid balance.
As part of a healthy diet, sodium is present in mainstream dog foods, either organically from the contents or as an added supplement. Hence, adding the right amount of salt to a dog’s diet is crucial.
Too much salt is harmful to your dog
But when taken in excess, it may have health impacts for your dog. Excess salt intake in dogs can lead to salt toxicosis. Another name for salt toxicosis is hypernatremia. In this condition, high quantities of sodium (salt) are present in the bloodstream.
Sodium, being an electrolyte, is generally balanced in the body. However, when blood salt levels get too high, the body attempts to restore equilibrium by taking water from the cells and bringing it into the bloodstream. This damages the cells and may impact the neurological system and brain.
To discover more about why salt is bad for your dog, check out this video below:
What happens to a dog when it ingests water softener salt?
The good news is that while both table salts and water softener salts consist of sodium chloride, water softener salts are no more harmful to your pet. You dog has a very robust metabolism and can ingest a lot of salt before it becomes fatal.
Normally, a dog will either vomit up the salt it ate or will feel nauseous and stop eating it. For this reason, it is tough for your dog to get poisoned from ingesting water softener salts. It could still get stomachaches if it ingested them in large amounts.
Another concern is the size of the water softener salts. The large size of water softener salt pellets can be dangerous to dogs if swallowed, particularly for smaller breeds who could choke on them.
What to do if your dog eats water softener salt
If you suspect your dog has ingested water softener salts, give it plenty of clean and fresh water. This will dilute the salt, reducing its toxicity. It will also ensure your dog does not get dehydrated.
If your dog consumes too much salt, it can lead to dehydration. The best way to combat this is by having it drink lots of water.
Overall, it’s better to keep your dog away from water softener salt as it can make it sick. If you think your dog has ingested some, give it lots of fresh water right away.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please reach out to your veterinarian.
Signs of Salt Poisoning in Dogs
The risk of salt poisoning will vary depending on the size of your dog and the amount of salt it ate. Smaller breeds are more susceptible to toxicity because it takes less salt for them to be poisoned.
The following symptoms suggest your dog may have ingested too much salt:
- A diminished appetite
- Unsteadiness or stumbling while standing
- Seizures or tremors
Treatment for Salt Poisoning in Dogs
The purpose of salt poisoning treatment is to ease clinical symptoms, rehydrate the body, and gradually fix electrolyte imbalance. A blood sodium concentration test will be used to track progress.
Salt toxicosis has no specific treatment. Removing any suspect food, liquid, or other materials immediately is crucial.
The dog must have access to fresh water, initially in small amounts, given often to prevent clinical symptoms from escalating. Large dogs should consume 0.5% of their body weight of water every hour until they are well hydrated, which generally takes many days.
Water can be injected into severely afflicted dogs via a stomach tube. Regardless of therapy, afflicted dogs experience a death rate of >50%.
The best way to manage acute salt consumption in small animals is to give them access to water and keep a close eye on them for several hours until clinical symptoms appear.
All dogs should gradually regain their normal fluid and electrolyte balance over two to three days following treatment.
Although water softener salts are generally harmless to your dog, they can cause problems when taken in excess. In addition, the large granule and pellet size is a choking hazard, especially for small breeds. However, giving your dogs any water treated with water softener salts is completely safe.