Why do Animals Need Salt in Their Diet?

Ever heard the phrase ‘eating like an animal’? It means eating a lot. So it’s common knowledge that most animals (livestock, deer, elephants, horse, etc.) have a big appetite too. Naturally, animals don’t have much to pass the time, so they eat instead (many human beings can also relate to this).

But what about the salt? You don’t just add it to your pet food to make it savory! Fact is, animals do need salt (1) just like us, and it is actually essential for them. Just like salt fulfills our mineral requirement and is necessary for the proper functioning of our many body functions, it’s a requirement for many animals as well. It is a well-known fact since ancient times that animals need their fair share of sodium and a variety of trace elements and minerals present in salt. Salt is present in sweat, blood, and tears. So animals, like cows, sometimes crave for salt to meet their need for sodium.

Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Here are a few important facts that will give you an idea of what salt is to animals.

The Importance of Salt in the Animal Nutrition Market

Animal nutrition is a significant market for salt. It’s essential for commercial breeding of livestock such as cattle, poultry, and fish, as well as for the nourishment of pets such as cats and dogs.

Why Salt is Essential

Salt isn’t all about the flavor! There’s a lot more than meets the eye. Essential nutrients (2) that are needed for health and wellness are present in salt. It is required primarily for the growth of animals at different stages of life, but that’s not the only purpose. More salt is required for animals to become immune to diseases and gain maximal resistance. This is why the need for salt increases in less than optimal conditions.

Salt Licks – A Popular Animal Hangout Spot

Animals in wildlife have often been seen traveling to salt springs or salt deposits, existing in nature known as Salt Licks, to lick essential nutrients. The necessary and regular visits to salt reserves by animals made these areas popular for huntsmen.

Salt Licks are common in nature, being valuable resources of much-needed elements and nutrients like phosphorus, sodium, calcium, iron, zinc, and many other trace elements. Animals such as deer, cattle, elephants, sheep, etc. are regular visitors to such places. They need salt for the proper functioning of their bones, muscles, nervous system and circulatory system. A substitute for natural salt licks when rearing cattle are salt blocks, which animals can lick anytime they want.

Tell-Tale Signs of a Salt Deficiency

Loss of appetite, loss of weight, and consumption of a good amount of dirt, wood, rocks, manure, and urine are important signs of sodium and chloride deficiency. Ultimately, sodium or chloride deficiency will cause reduced milk production in lactating animals since milk is rich in both. Calcium from salt is necessary for strong bones and teeth and also for milk production in cows. In turn, the need for salt also decreases with decreased milk production.

How Salt Needs Vary

Salt is essential for animals, period. However, some animals may need it in larger quantities. Others, not so much. The reason for this are certain factors that affect salt needs, such as: (3)

What They Eat

An undeniable and important factor that influences the need for salt consumption in animals is their diet. Different quantities of salt are present in different kinds of animal feed, hence the variation in the amount of additional salt they need to consume.

Water Concentration

What kind of water are animals drinking? This is important to address since according to an article by farms.com, animals consume about 2-3 times more water than they feed. The salt concentration of water may in this way fulfill part of the salt requirements.


Is the animal producing milk? If yes, it will likely need extra salt to compensate for the sodium and chloride being excreted as part of milk! Growing and reproducing animals also need more salt.

How to Give Salt to Animals – Feed and Salt Blocks

Can you add it to their feed? As a rule of thumb, you should add 0.5 % salt in all formulas for pigs and poultry. However, if the animals are drinking saline water, it is recommended to decrease the salt quantity in their feed by proportion for fear of toxicity.

Salt Blocks are a different story. They’re just that – blocks of salt, either pressed table salt, or the very nutritious Himalayan Pink Salt. They’re kept not on the ground to keep them away from dirt, but at snout level where animals can easily lick them, since they can’t be bitten off.

Himalayan Salt Blocks – The Ultimate Salt Supplement

A trending health food, Himalayan Pink Salt is all the rage among those who just love all things pure and chemical free. Himalayan salt licks are not just health food for humans but also for other living creatures including those of horses, camels, cows, cattle, sheep, dogs, and cats.

From its blocks being carved for home decoration to its numerous benefits for health and wellness, this iron-rich pink salt is free from all kinds of rigorous refining processing and machined treatments. It is extracted by hand from deep inside the Khewra Salt Mines in Pakistan, near the foothills of the Himalayas. These salt licks are also weather resistant. The salt contains not just sodium and chloride, but a total of 84 different elements including essential trace minerals such as Zinc, Manganese, Copper, and Iodine that are needed for proper nutrition. This salt is now becoming increasingly popular for animals too!

Blocks of Himalayan Pink Salt are big and rock-hard, making them impossible for animals to bite or chew. They can only be licked, so that facilitates limited intake and decreases the risk of salt toxicity. Animals lick salt blocks as much as their body needs and stop at the point where their mineral needs are met. Himalayan Pink Salt, with its numerous benefits including naturally occurring iodine, energy boosting properties, electrolyte balancing properties, regulation of retained water, and blood sugar level regulation can be a great source of nutrition to raise healthy livestock.

Now That You Know…

Animals need salt, but they need it in limited quantity. Since you can’t just take them to naturally occurring Salt Licks, the best way to go about it is using Himalayan Salt blocks. They will last longer since they can’t be bitten off, and they will provide nourishment like no other salt.

Apart from salt blocks, take care that you feed them regularly and give them a good supply of clean drinking water. Any salt toxicity can be compensated by increased water intake, so make them both available so that your pet can figure out a balance!


  1. https://m.farms.com/farmspages/commentary/detailedcommentary/tabid/192/default.aspx?newsid=36774
  2. http://www.goatworld.com/articles/nutrition/salt.shtml
  3. https://www.wattagnet.com/articles/27565-how-much-salt-should-you-add-in-your-animal-feed-diets

About the Author

Jeffrey Lewis

Hi, I am a blogger at Ittefaq Salt. I like to share different aspects of my life. I aim to create a beautiful, thriving life around me and helping others to do the same. I love writing about nature, health, nutrition, animals, and pet related topics.


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