Salt for Horses: How Much Is Too Much?

February 3, 2021

Occasionally you may come across a horse with a large appetite for salt, whether it’s salt blocks, salt licks, or loose salt. Can a horse have too much salt? Will it harm your horse?

This is a question we've heard from horse owners for decades. At Redmond, we've been in the salt business for many years, and have yet to see a case of a horse eating too much salt. In rare situations, however, it can occur. If it does, switching to a loose mineral salt like Redmond Rock Crushed can help control your horse's cravings. More on that in a minute, but first, let's talk salt toxicosis and what it causes. 

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Salt Toxicosis: It Happens, but Rarely

Why do horses eat salt? Salt, especially mineral salt, provides many benefits to horses. Providing a horse salt before exercise, during extreme hot or cold temperatures, or other times of need helps sodium levels stay balanced and stimulates a  horse to keep drinking. Without salt supplementation, some horses won’t consume enough water on their own, and risk becoming dehydrated.  

Salt is the most crucial mineral horses require.  It's also water-soluble, so generally a horse will naturally balance salt intake by drinking water to flush out any excess. You should always ensure your horse has access to fresh, clean water when using a mineral block or loose salt mix.

Symptoms of Salt Toxicity in Horses:

While horses usually only consume as much salt as their body needs, occasionally a horse may eat too much. Symptoms of salt toxicity include:

  • Colic symptoms
  • Diarrhea or loose manure
  • Drinking too much water
  • Frequent urination
  • General weakness

A horse displaying these signs should be seen by a vet immediately.  

3 Downsides to Too Much Salt

Besides salt toxicity, there are a few less serious and more common side effects of letting your horse binge on salt. Here are the most common.

  1. Your horse’s stall will be messy. When a horse eats too much salt, it leads to increased water consumption, which results in an increase in urination. That means a messier stall.
  2. You'll spend more money than necessary. Just because your horse has a huge appetite for salt doesn’t mean they need all of that savory goodness. Most of that over-consumed salt, along with your investment on mineral licks or blocks, will pass through the horse and end up in the bedding or on the ground.
  3. Your horse's mouth will become sore. A horse that spends too much of its day licking a salt block could end up with a sore mouth. That's not what you need when inserting a bridle bit or what you want for your horse's wellbeing. 

Decrease salt intake

How to Cut Down Your Horse's Salt Intake

So, what to do with that salt-aholic equine? How do you ensure your horse gets the salt he or she needs without overindulging?

Combat Boredom

Eating too much salt can be a sign of boredom, so make sure your horse is getting enough exercise and time to roam. Turnout time can help them find other ways to satisfy their impulse to chew. A toy or another enrichment to their stall may also help. 

Make Water Available

If you're feeding your horse salt (and you should be), make sure they have constant access to fresh water. This is critical. Salt triggers a horse's thirst response and encourages them to seek out and drink water. Sufficient water consumption also helps flush out any excess salt a horse consumes but doesn't need.  

Switch to a Loose Salt

Consider taking away free-choice salt blocks or licks and adding salt to your horse's feed with Redmond Rock Crushed. Our loose mineral sea salt provides a complete balance of natural trace minerals and takes the guesswork out of how much salt to feed a horse. It can be measured in with feed or given in a pan by itself. Either way, you get to choose how much salt your horse consumes.

RR Crushed benefits-4We hope we've answered this important question about salt! If you'd like to learn more about other common horse health questions and myths, check out the posts below. Or click the button to explore Redmond loose mineral salt products like Crushed and other quality horse supplements.

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Learn More

Where Does Your Horse's Salt Come From?

Rock Salt vs. Mineral Blocks: Which is Right for Your Horse?

Salt vs. Electrolytes for Horses:  What's the Difference?

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