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Dr Pete
Dr Pete, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  Bachelor of Veterinary Science University of Melbourne
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My Australian Shepherd seems to be craving salt. Is it normal

Resolved Question:

My Australian Shepherd seems to be craving salt. Is it normal for dogs to need salt to the extent they would try to get salt from my hands? She seems to feel bad and she vomited her food this morning.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr Pete replied 8 years ago.
Hi Donna
Can I ask some questions first
1. How old is she?
2. Is the salt craving just lately (since she's been unwell) or has she always had it.
3. How long has she been unwell? Do you mean quieter than normal, in pain? Just one vomit? Stools ok?
4. What is her thirst like?
5. Has she lost weight lately?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
She is 10 years old. She has seemed to crave salt only the last two days. She is just quieter than normal and isn't perky like usual just today. I am concerned mostly because she has been more thirsty than normal. We boarded her for 4 days last week. When we went to get her on Sunday she was very thirsty and it has continued although not as much. That was the first time we have boarded her in the 10 months that we have had her. Her previous and only other owner did not board her but left her at home with a doggy door and fenced yard for months at a time. She has not lost weight. Still has a good appetite.
Expert:  Dr Pete replied 8 years ago.
Hi Donna
First in general terms. All species of animals will often seek out salt. Salt is a necessary part of diet and nature causes animals to seek it out and ingest it. So a dog will always like salty food. Some dogs seem to crave it more than others. Of course although it's nececssary for their electrolyte balance, too much is not so good. Balanced commercial dog foods will contain ample amounts of salt for the average dog.
A sudden alteration in the desire for salt can be associated with gastric upsets or electrolyte imbalances (sometimes the two occur together). The important issue with her is that she has started to drink more than normal and if the thirst preceded the vomiting then it's more likley that this is an electroyte imbalance and the vomiting may be a secondary issue. These electrolyte imbalances can occur with a variety of diseases in dogs including a very important one called Addison's Disease (hypoadrenocorticism). There are other possibilities. I mention this first because early diagnosis is very importnat in these types of problem.
It may be that she simply has an infection (gastric) perhaps related to the kenneling and this will pass. Sometimes dogs will develop unusual habits when kenneled and can bring these home with them. Often in time they will revert to normal.
So I feel a visit to the vet is probably appropriate here in that she's had the signs for 2 days. A quick blood test can check her electrolyte levels to make sure there's no serious problems.
I hope I've been of help. Please contactr me back if I can assist further.
Kindets regards, Peter
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