Salt Toxicity

Much of this information is adapted from the online Merck Veterinary Manual and Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Salt toxicosis, termed “water deprivation sodium ion toxicosis”, is due to ingesting foods that contain too much salt and/or not having enough drinking water available. It can occur in almost any species, but swine are the most sensitive species. Pig feed should contain between 0.5-1.0% sodium. Salt toxicosis has been known to occur in pigs consuming feed containing 0.25% sodium ration who did not have enough drinking water available. Clean, fresh drinking water should be available at all times.

  • Early signs for salt toxicosis include:
  • Increased thirst, pruritus (itch),constipation
  • Pigs may appear blind, deaf, oblivious to surroundings
  • Wandering aimlessly, bumping into objects, circling or pivoting around a single limb
  • After 1-5days of limited water consumption they may experience:
    Intermittent seizures with pig sitting on haunches and jerking head back and up, falling on side in seizures with arched back and rigid limbs. Pigs may lie on their sides, paddle, slip into a coma, and die within a few to 48hrs.

There is no reported treatment. The first priority is to remove bad food/water and provide small amounts of fresh water frequently. If large amounts of water are consumed it may increase brain edema (swelling) and worsen the condition. A vet may slowly administer a hypertonic dextrose or isotonic saline solution. If the pig is severely affected, water may be administered through a stomach tube. Death occurs in more than 50% of all cases.

​What you should remember: Never feed your pig salty foods or anything that has salt added. Only feed your pig food made for pigs (not dogs or cats or any other animal) and fresh veggies/fruits. And ALWAYS provide fresh, clean drinking water for your pig.