Are Salt Lamps Dangerous For Pets?

Ever notice how you tend to feel more calm and tranquil when you're near a waterfall or at the beach? This could be due in part to a general sense of comfort that comes with being away from the workplace for the day, although many believe that the negative ions created in these atmospheres actually enhance our moods and may assist in treating depression, writes Healthline. To bring the bliss that comes with such a serene state into the home, many people look to the healing power of Himalayan salt lamps. Unfortunately, for anyone sharing a home with a pet, the presence of a salt lamp can pose serious health risks to their four-legged friends.

Himalayan salt lamp on table against blurred background
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What are Himalayan salt lamps?

Himalayan salt lamps are lamps fashioned from rock salt mined in the Himalayas. These lamps are marketed as air purifiers which produce negative ions and pull toxins from the air inside of a room, although some researchers dispute these claims, according to Live Science. Whether they work to improve the air quality in the room, and by association, the mood of the people in it, many are drawn to salt lamps for the calming traits they add to a space through the use of low, soft light. Like people, some pets are drawn to salt lamps as well, not for their aesthetic properties, but for their salty taste, which can lead to problems if they lick lamps for too long.

Are they dangerous?

When it comes to people, a working salt lamp is harmless, but for dogs and cats, there are potential dangers every pet owner should be aware of. According to the Animal Medical Center, too much salt ingested by a pet in any form, be that from your table or your salt lamp, can lead to sodium poisoning, the symptoms of which may include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargy, among others. More seriously, salt poisoning can lead to potential kidney damage, coma, water deprivation, and even death if it isn't addressed and treated quickly, so if you think your dog or cat may have been licking your salt lamp you should visit a veterinarian immediately, or call poison control at 1-800-222-1222.

Playful pets
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Certain neurological problems are also associated with salt poisoning, and can occur if your pet licks your salt lamp and doesn't stop until it's too late. The Ontario Veterinary College explains that when too much salt enters the body, the kidneys can't process it, and essentially sends it back into the blood. As the salt levels increase the brain gets triggered by the imbalance, causing neurological functions like muscle control to become affected. Some of the earliest signs of sodium poisoning include compromised nerve function, like a confused mental state, staggering, vision loss, and sometimes, seizures.

How to keep your pets safe

While salt poisoning is a very real thing that can leave your pets sick, there are a few things you can do to keep your pets safe in a home that has a salt lamp in it. Sodium poisoning occurs when pets ingest too much sodium chloride, so as long as your pet can't reach the lamp or get close enough to lick it, there's a good chance the lamp won't affect their health at all. A home with dogs can likely get away with storing a lamp high up on a shelf—just be careful to hide any attached cords that your canine friend could snag or become caught in, which could cause the lamp to fall, making it accessible to your dog.

cute scottish fold cat sitting on shelving unit on white
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Cats, on the other hand, may be a little harder to cohabitate with a salt lamp without incident, especially if your cat is the curious type who likes to taste their way around the world. If it's at all possible that your cat can reach your salt lamp, it's best to donate that lamp to a feline-free household. For other ways to enjoy the benefits associated with a Himalayan salt lamp, like fill your room with negative ions, you can buy a negative ion generator, install a mechanical waterfall, or add potted houseplants to your space (just be sure those are also non-toxic to pets.) Regardless of the type of pet in your home, make sure to have plenty of fresh water available at all times if you do have a salt lamp, as water can make salt intake less hazardous to pets, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.