How do I give my horse his daily salt? Should it be iodized or regular salt?
My standard answer - it depends. It’s going to require you to take a look at your horse’s supplements and feeds to read the label and do some quick math. You will also want to confirm with your Veterinarian to be sure these numbers work for your horse.
Iodine is barely present in grass, too low to even measure in most cases. It’s not present in all types of salt blocks, but I don’t like these anyway. Thus it’s up to your horse feeds and supplements to provide iodine for your horse.
A horse needs about 1 to 6 mg of iodine a day. A great source of this is iodized salt, available at your local grocery store. Taking a peek at your horse’s supplements and feeds, you should be able to easily calculate how much iodine he’s getting. If he’s falling short, you may want to consider adding some iodized salt to his meals. If he’s getting to much, his thyroid heath is at danger of being damaged.
Your horse also needs about one tablespoon of salt per 500 lbs of weight a day to maintain normal, healthy functions. For the average horse, this is about 2 tablespoons a day, maybe more when he’s sweating, but we typically give electrolytes which are salt PLUS other trace minerals. If you give electrolytes, you will typically need to continue the daily salt as the electrolytes are replacing what he’s sweating. You should also know that each tablespoon of iodized salt has 1.2 mg of iodine, which means that the average horse can get a good supply of iodine daily.
SO…if your horse gets iodine from his supplements, you can give him plain salt. If he gets iodine from nothing, give him iodized salt.
I always prefer giving my horse his salt (and iodine) measured out in his meals. This way, I can guarantee that his salt intake per day is enough for him. The use of blocks is inconsistent, you can’t measure the intake daily, and some horses either eat them quickly or don’t use them at all. If you use a block, do a little research into the iodine content of the block and make sure it’s good for your horse.
Your Veterinarian and/or Equine Nutritionist is a great source of help for dietary questions! You ultimately want to be sure his diet lines up with his specific needs and medical situations.