Why is My Filly Obsessed with Salt?

My filly is licking and biting her salt block obsessively. Is it possible for her to eat too much salt?
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horse licking salt
As long as the horse has ample fresh water—and is actually drinking enough—excess sodium should simply be excreted in urine. | Photo: Jennifer Whittle/The Horse

Q. My new 2-year-old filly is obsessively licking and biting her salt block. She lives on a dry lot and gets high-quality orchard grass hay, a daily ration of commercial horse feed appropriate for her growth stage and size, and an omega-3 supplement. She also receives ample fresh water. Her current workload is very light and mostly includes basic handling rather than exercise. I haven’t had blood work done on her. Should I be concerned about her licking and chewing the salt block? Does it suggest there’s a problem with her diet or health, and can she hurt herself by taking in too much salt?

—Bill, via e-mail

A. This is a very common question. The good news is that sodium chloride, commonly known as salt, is water-soluble. As long as your filly has ample fresh water as you indicate, and she’s actually drinking enough, excess sodium will simply be excreted in the urine

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Written by:

Nettie Liburt, MS, PhD, PAS, is an equine nutritionist based on Long Island, New York. She is a graduate of Rutgers University, where she studied equine exercise physiology and nutrition. Liburt is a member of the Equine Science Society.

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