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Iodized salt can help your horse's health

Iodine is necessary for proper thyroid function in horses.

By Dr. Juliet Getty | 20-Jun-11

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Horse salt lick
White and brown salt blocks generally do not contain iodine, whereas blue and red ones do. Photo: Leslie Potter
A full-sized horse does best on a diet that offers 1 to 6 mg of iodine each day to keep his thyroid gland working properly. Because the iodine content of grass is too low to measure, it is best to rely on supplementation -- from salt or other sources -- to meet your horse's need. Many supplements and fortified feeds already add it. It's always best to know what your horse is consuming since too much iodine can damage the thyroid gland.

Since all full-sized horses require at least one ounce (2 tablespoons) of salt per day for maintenance (and up to 3 ounces/day when perspiring heavily), iodized salt is a good way to add iodine and provide the needed salt as well. Granulated salt that you buy in the grocery store comes in both non-iodized and iodized versions; one teaspoon of iodized table salt contains 0.4 mg of iodine (3 tsp = 1 Tablespoon = 15 ml).

White and brown salt blocks generally do not contain iodine, whereas blue and red ones do. Sea salt, kelp, and other natural salt sources can vary tremendously in their iodine content. Only use reputable sources that guarantee their iodine analysis in writing.

Looking for more advice on optimal nutrition for your horse? For more than 20 years, Dr. Juliet Getty has taught and consulted on equine nutrition. Her comprehensive book, Feed Your Horse Like A Horse: Optimizing your horse’s nutrition for a lifetime of vibrant health, is available in hardcover and CD through her website or at At horse owners and managers will find a library of helpful articles, the "Ask the Nutritionist" forum, and a calendar of appearances, teleconferences and interviews; register at the website for Dr. Getty’s popular (and free) monthly e-newsletter, “Forage for Thought.”

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Reader Comments

kilee    sioux city, KY

6/29/2011 10:02:42 AM

My horses love there salt we buy the white kind of blocks there block is going down to miny size? i should get more.

Horselover    Horsetown, NE

6/27/2011 5:57:13 AM

Great article- will definitely check next time I'm buying a block.

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

6/20/2011 11:37:16 PM

I don't know if there is iodine in my horse's salt block. I suppose I should look into that.


6/20/2011 12:15:56 PM


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