Q. Our dry dog food does not list salt (NaCl) in its ingredients. Is there a danger dog could suffer from low sodium levels if all she eats is dog food?
DR. CHRISTIE LONG, D.V.M., C.V.A.
A. The AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials, the organization that sets the standards to animal feed ingredients) allowance for adult dog food is 0.17 grams sodium per 1000 kcal and 0.26 grams chloride per 1000 kcal. Many foods provide about 5 times the low sodium allowance- about 1 gram per 1000 kcal, and some are higher.
It is unlikely that your dog will suffer from low sodium levels while eating a commercial dog food, even if the food doesn't list NaCl as a separate ingredient.
We don't really know what the 'optimum' level of sodium is, however sodium is inherent in many ingredients used to make dog food, and is put into foods for palatability or to increase water intake. Because sodium already exists in the ingredients, this is likely why you don't see "salt" as an ingredient on its own.
A. Dog food manufacturers are not required to divulge sodium levels. Some do, most do not. Since salt is a cheap flavor enhancer, it is likely there is a sufficient amount to prevent low sodium. On the contrary, there are probably high levels of sodium in most dog foods.