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Home > Horses > Do Horses Need Salt? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Dietary Needs

Do Horses Need Salt? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Dietary Needs

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Dr. Chyrle Bonk

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Owning a horse comes with its fair share of questions. After all, they’re a large animal that needs adequate space, lots of food and water, and attention. You may also be wondering if horses need salt. Horses absolutely need salt. Here is everything you need to know about giving your horse salt, including why it is so important and how to do it.

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Yes, Horses Need Salt

Hay and grass are very deficient in salt, even most grain mixes don’t contain enough to keep a horse going. This means that an additional source of salt needs to be supplied to horses to maintain proper health.

Salt is a necessary part of many bodily functions and something that horses can lose a lot of through sweating. Some people believe that you only need to provide salt in the summer when it is hot and humid, but that is not the case. Horses can sweat in all kinds of weather, especially if they are active. You should always ensure that your horse has a supply of salt available, even if it is cold or dreary out.

Exmoor Pony draws out the reservation salt lick
Image Credit: Best dog photo, Shutterstock

Why Do Horses Need Salt?

Salt, or sodium chloride, is an important mineral for your horse’s body. It is an electrolyte that aids in nerve and muscle function and pH and fluid balances. It also provides a trigger for thirst, motivating horses to drink to help prevent dehydration.

If a horse doesn’t get enough salt, it can lead to a number of problems, including low blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and even neurological problems.

Signs of salt deficiency include:
  • Muscle tremors
  • Weight loss
  • Eating or licking dirt
  • Tiring more easily

For all of these reasons, salt is critically important for a horse’s health and functionality. If left unaddressed, any of these problems can compound and even become fatal in severe situations. A steady intake of salt helps horses keep these important bodily functions in balance.

How to Provide Salt to Your Horse

The best way to provide salt to your horse is to keep a salt or mineral block available at all times. You can buy a large mineral block (50 pounds) and keep it in an open area that is shared between multiple horses. You can also provide a small individual salt block in a stall for individual horses.

If your horse does not want to lick or chew on a salt block, you can also try to provide loose salt sprinkled on their feed daily. This will take some figuring to determine the proper amount. Speak to your veterinarian if you have any questions.

Pink salt lick tied to iron bars of a horse stall as an food additive of minerals
Image Credit: fotorauschen, Shutterstock

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Different Types of Salt Blocks

There are a variety of different salt blocks to choose from. The differences are minimal, and any type of salt block will work for your horse as long as the block is primarily made of safe salt.


A plain salt block, or white block, is made from pure salt. These blocks are the most basic and often the least expensive. White salt provides your horse with the necessary sodium chloride to help keep their electrolytes in balance. You can get these blocks in 1-pound, 5-pound, or 50-pound blocks.

two horses shares a mineral block in a green landscape
Image Credit: Kennerth Kullman, Shutterstock


Mineral blocks are blocks that include supplemental minerals in addition to salt. Mineral blocks are often brown or red. Mineral blocks will provide salt as well as additional minerals to your horse’s diet. Brown mineral blocks are usually slightly more expensive than white blocks. You can get mineral blocks in a 1-pound or 50-pound block for individual horses or a herd.

Himalayan Salt

Himalayan salt blocks (also known as fancy salt blocks) look like Himalayan salt lamps and simply provide a different medium for the salt. Himalayan salt is safe for horses. However, it is usually more expensive than plain salt and usually only comes in small quantities. Many Himalayan salt blocks are small and are designed to be hung in a horse’s stall. This salt is great for individual horses that are kept inside.

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Mineral Blocks to Avoid

Not all mineral blocks are safe for horses. Not all animals have the same needs, and some mineral blocks designed for other animals may have minerals or additives that may not be safe for horses and vice versa.

You should always buy salt blocks that are labeled for a specific species. For example, cattle blocks may have additives that are unsafe for horses but are important for cows. Similarly, mineral blocks made for goats or horses can contain higher amounts of copper, which can be deadly to sheep in those amounts. Make sure you check what kind of salt or mineral block you are using before putting it out for your horses to lick.



Horses absolutely need salt. Without salt, horses can suffer from health complications. Salt helps keep your horse’s fluids in balance and their muscles and nerves functioning normally. This is important for your horse’s overall health. A salt deficiency can quickly spiral out of control and lead to blood pressure problems, colic, and even death. Make sure to keep your horse supplied with an adequate amount of safe salt at all times to avoid any potential health problems.

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Featured Image Credit: Groomee, Shutterstock

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