Can Horses Drink Salt water? Revealing Myth

Horses and saltwater look like interesting questions. Has this thought ever crossed your mind when you are about to take a sip of salty warm water? For its supernatural healing properties, it wouldn’t be wrong to call it “a magical healing fluid”. 

Still, a 90’s generation looks for salty warm water to get rid of sore throat, infections, congestion, mouth ulcers, and toothaches. Thus it’s rewarding in its ways.

But in the horse’s case, it’s used is limited to relieving pain and injuries. Why is it so? Is it fair to limit its use to heal wounds only? 

Can horses drink salty seawater or just salty water? These were the few questions that I kept asking myself until I got the answers. 

Can Horses Drink Salt water

Can horses drink salt water? No, Salty water is not even good for humans let alone horses. Drinking salty water, again and again, can become a reason for death.


Drinking salty water enhances rehydration that usually becomes a reason for several diseases like diarrhea, colic, weakness, and recumbency. It also makes the horses urinate frequently.

Horses generally don’t drink salty water

Horses have a strong sense of smell, they can sniff the salt in water. So while swimming when the salty water is reaching up to their mouth, they do not try to drink it even if they are thirsty.

If the regular water pot or anything they drink water from, has some traces of salt they would choose to stay thirsty instead.

Why do horses avoid salty water? Can they sense the danger?

Horses do not try to drink salty water because they enjoy drinking fresh and clean water. We are not sure if they can sense the danger or not but in my opinion, they prefer clean freshwater over salty water.

What to do if the horse mistakenly drinks salty water? 

If the horse has mistakenly drunk salty water it is recommended to offer him plenty of freshwaters immediately as a compensatory move. The freshwater helps in flushing away the excess sodium content from the body that can cause abdominal pain, muscle tremors, central nervous system manifestation such as seizures, partial paralysis, and circling. 

But why do we put salt in horse’s feed if it’s that harmful?

Consuming salt with pasture or any solid feed option is not harmful at all, it rather helps in maintaining your horse’s sodium need. But the salty water case is different, it makes the horse more thirsty, and drinking too much water causes stress on the kidney and sometimes dilutes electrolytes in the horse’s body. In the latter case, the horses lose their ability to regulate temperature.

In brief

salt water is harmful to drinking but good for healing the horse’s wounds. The horses do not generally drink salty water; they rather prefer freshwater over it. Drinking saltwater (whether it’s human or horses) can cause abdominal pain, muscle tumors, and several other serious fatalities. So, if freshwater is not available it’s better to keep your thirsty than allowing this innocent creature to have a sip of it.


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Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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