When your dog gets itself into situations that it shouldn’t, it can be a very stressful experience for you. Based on my own experience, the majority of accidents that happen at home are harmless but some definitely required a rushed visit to the vet.
If your dog has gotten itself into trouble with epsom salt this time around, it can turn out to be a dangerous situation.
Eating large amounts of epsom salt can cause a medical condition known as hypermagnesemia which can affect a dog’s heart and nerve impulses. Ingesting epsom salts can also cause other adverse side effects like bad diarrhea and stomach upset.
In this article, we will be discussing the potential risks involved if your dog ingests epsom salts and how to handle the situation.
What Is Epsom Salt?
Most of us would have probably heard of epsom salt but might not exactly know what it is.
To kick things off, epsom salt isn’t exactly like the salt that we eat but more of that later.
Epsom salt was discovered in Epsom, England hence its name.
Epsom salts are widely used as a remedy for many types of ailments like muscle aches, joint pains and as a stress reliever in the form of an epsom salt bath.
Some people will even take a little bit of epsom salt as a laxative when feeling constipated. I’ve tried it a few times and it tastes really bitter.
Is Epsom Salt The Same As Table Salt?
The only similarity that both epsom salt and table salt share is that they both have the word ‘salt’ in them.
These two substances are completely different compounds.
Epsom salt is made out of magnesium sulfate which is a mixture of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen.
These compounds are used to promote healing and well-being.
Table salt on the other hand is made out of sodium chloride which is used to enhance the flavor of food.
Too much sodium chloride in your dog’s body is also a bad thing as it can lead to salt poisoning.
Is Epsom Salt Harmful To Dogs?
The more I read and learn about how a ‘harmless’ everyday item can turn deadly for my dog, it does put me on edge.
But it is never about living in a constant state of paranoia for our dogs but to be more aware of what can be harmful.
There are some vets that actually recommend the usage for dogs with certain health problems.
However, epsom salt poisoning can happen if your dog eats the epsom salt directly or drink epsom salt water.
Given that epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate, too much of this compound in your dog’s body can lead to hypermagnesemia.
Hypermagnesemia is a medical condition whereby your dog has abnormally high levels of magnesium in its blood.
Magnesium isn’t bad in any way and is a mineral that is required for metabolic functions in your dog’s body. It can be found in your dog’s bones and muscles.
However, too much magnesium can affect your dog’s nerves and heart.
Symptoms of hypermagnesemia include:
- Low blood pressure
- Cardiac arrest
These are very serious side effects and can be fatal to some dogs in severe cases. The best way to help your dog is to get it to the vet immediately.
Even if your dog doesn’t ingest enough epsom salts for it to be toxic, it can suffer from pretty bad diarrhea as epsom salt is a natural laxative.
If your dog is having diarrhea, it is best to try and keep the dog food as bland as possible. A serving of boiled or steamed chicken with some rice can help settle the tummy.
You can also add a small amount of fresh pumpkin or psyllium husk to your dog’s food to firm up its stool.
When using pumpkin, please do not use canned pumpkin that contains sugar or other added ingredients.
On a side note, pumpkin works well for dogs with pancreatitis as it is easily digested and absorbed by the dog’s body.
If the diarrhea persists for more than 48 hours, you need to take your dog to the vet for treatment as prolonged diarrhea can be life-threatening.
How Is Epson Salt Poisoning Treated?
The vet will give your dog a thorough physical examination, check its vital signs and run a few important lab tests.
The aim is to try and determine the level of magnesium in your dog’s body.
An electrocardiography or ECG might also be carried out on your dog to get a better analysis of its heart as hypermagnesemia affects the heart as well.
The common treatments for hypermagnesemia are fluid and calcium therapy to flush out as much of the excess magnesium from the dog’s body as possible.
Can Epsom Salt Be Beneficial For Dogs?
When used in a safe and supervised environment, epsom salts can actually have some benefits for dogs.
Epsom salt can help with:
- Itchy skin
- Dry skin
- Promotes healing for small wounds
The right way to use epsom salt on your dog is to fill your bath tub with some warm water and add in a cup of epsom salt.
The water level should be well below your dog’s mouth so that it doesn’t end up drinking the epsom salt water.
If you need to get some epsom salt water on the hard to reach places, use a small glass or pail to pour some on that area.
Let your dog soak in the epsom salt water for about 10 minutes to give the epsom salts time to work.
Once the time is up, get your dog out of the tub and towel it dry.
Does Epsom Salt Eliminate Fleas?
I am still on the fence when it comes to using epsom salts to eliminate fleas. Epsom salt solution is said to dry out fleas and flea eggs which causes them to die.
You can also use table salt but it can be rather painful if your dog has some sores and lesions from the flea bites.
The epsom salt will have a calming and healing effect on your dog’s skin.
It is safe to use epsom salt to try and get rid of any many fleas as possible but you should also consider using a flea treatment like Frontline or Advantage which have a much better success rate.
Here’s a tip.
Make sure to vacuum your home as much as possible if your dog has fleas.
The fleas can live in your carpet and fabric and the best way to remove them from these areas is to keep vacuuming.