Sodium is an essential mineral for life.
Found in the blood and in the fluid that surrounds cells, sodium maintains the cellular environment and prevents cells from swelling or dehydrating. Sodium is also important for maintaining proper nerve and muscle cell function.
What Are the Sources of Sodium in Dog Foods?
Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are good sources of sodium.
Sodium also might be included in commercial pet foods in the form of table salt (sometimes listed on the ingredient panel as salt). Salt is an important palatant for animals, as well as for people.
How Much Sodium Do Dogs Need?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends that dry dog foods contain at least 0.3% sodium for both maintenance and to support normal growth and development. This is the minimum recommended levels.
While high sodium intake might cause increased thirst and water consumption, the extra sodium is excreted in the urine of dogs. Healthy dogs are able to consume diets with higher sodium levels than those found in most commercial pet foods without increased blood pressure or gain in body water.
Therefore, the sodium level in commercial pet foods is not a cause for concern in healthy animals.
When Might Sodium Restriction Be Recommended?
A veterinarian might recommend decreasing a dog's sodium intake if the animal has some types of kidney, liver, or heart disease, in order to help decrease high blood pressure or the accumulation of excessive body fluid.
Although older dogs might be more likely to develop these diseases, healthy older dogs do not require a low- or reduced-sodium diet.
The sodium level in our dog foods is appropriate for a healthy dog. The sodium content in these foods is balanced in proper proportions with energy, other minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
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Switching your dog to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, they tend to prefer their current food to a new food. Like us, they become accustomed to a food and might not be thrilled about a new routine. These useful dog-feeding tips will help you keep your dog satisfied.
4 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Dog to a New Food
1. Introduce the new food gradually.
When easing your dog into a change in diet, think “slow and steady.” Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the current food. Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. Your dog may want to eat only the old food, or not eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
2. Watch your body language.
Bringing a new food into your home, pouring it into your dog’s bowl and declaring that he should eat it might cause your dog to go on a hunger strike. This is not the time to show who’s boss. It’s better to introduce the new food by using a pleasant tone of voice and gently encouraging him to try the new food.
3. Don't give in to demands.
Persistence is key! For the first two days of the food transition, don’t give your dog treats or table scraps. Dogs train us as much as we train them. Giving in to their demands only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
4. Be patient when switching from wet food to dry food.
Switching diets may be more challenging when changing from a moist food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, mix in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds. If you mix the food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage. The same rule applies for canned and pouch food. After the dog has become accustomed to the moistened food, you can wean him onto completely dry food. To do this, follow the same mixing instructions outlined above.
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