Can Dogs Eat Sardines?


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Sardines are soft-boned, small fish loaded with nutrients like omega-three fatty acids, vitamin d, and amino acids that are wonderful for your dog. Giving your dog sardines is a healthy, excellent way for them to get extra nutrients. 

The rest of the article will explain the health benefits of feeding sardines to your dog, what to watch out for, and how you can incorporate them into your dog’s diet.

What Are Sardines?

This tiny fish comes from the herring family and can be found in the ocean all around the world swimming in large schools. They make lovely bait for fishermen and are usually caught to be pickled, smoked, grilled, or used for fish oils.

They are considered one of the most sustainable types of seafood.

Despite their fishy smell, these fish are a great option to consider when introducing new foods into your dog’s diet.

A fatty, oily fish, sardines are mostly sold in tins or jars and can be found fresh or frozen. They are high in protein and many essential nutrients.

Can Dogs Eat Sardines?

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what foods are safe for your dog to eat. For example, as many fish can be bad for your dog, you may be left looking through your cabinets, seeing the canned sardines in the back, and wondering, “can my dog eat sardines?”

Well, they can! In fact, sardines are one of the best snacks you can give your dog since they are safe for them to eat and an excellent source of so many incredible essential nutrients your dog must have in their diet.

If you have been looking for a wonderful way of adding nutrients to your dog’s diet, therefore improving their health, feeding your dog sardines is a great option.

What Are The Health Benefits of Sardines?

Food is powerful and can help improve our overall health as humans. So it should come as no surprise that it can do the same for your dog!

Pet owners should be feeding their dog nutritionally complete dog food to cover their basic needs at the very least, but other foods can be used to supplement additional nutrients your dog may need.

Sardines contain multiple fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid, which are all excellent and offer so many great benefits, especially for growing puppies.

Since there are so many health benefits to adding this little fish to your dog’s diet in small portions, such as brain development, preventing kidney disease, promoting dental health, and keeping their immune system strong, let’s go over some of the other amazing ways sardines will impact your dog’s health.

Improved Mobility

Large dogs and older pets will often find themselves experiencing hip and joint issues as time goes on, which will end up limiting their movement and causing them persistent pain. Feeding your dog sardines will help the inflammation that causes your pet pain.

On top of that, sardines also have a moderate level of phosphorus and calcium, which are both great minerals your dog needs to keep a healthy skeletal structure.

Cognitive and Retinal Function

DHA, one of the omega three fatty acids found in sardines, is essential for both your dog’s eye health and cognitive function.

DHA is required for all dogs but especially important for senior pets and puppies. Choosing foods high in DHA will help support your dog’s growth and, over time, will help minimize the signs of aging.

Skin and Coat Health

Another benefit to omega-three fatty acids is the improved health of your dog’s skin and coat.

The fatty acids found in sardines will help reduce the inflammation of your dog’s skin and coat. It will also help reduce allergy hot spots and itchiness your dog may experience with seasonal allergies.

Heart Health

Sardines also contain Ubiquinol, a vital nutrient present in most cells in your dog’s body. By feeding sardines to your dog, the levels of this antioxidant will be boosted and will end up helping your dog’s heart function.

If your dog has congenital issues, this is a great nutrient to consider feeding them more of and will help boost their overall health over time.

Coenzyme Q10

An essential part of the mitochondria, this enzyme has been said to help improve your dog’s heart and circulation.

Total Body Health

Since sardines are considered to be a complete protein, they contain all essential acids required for your dog. This is wonderful since they will support all functions, from digestion to organs. They will also help your dog’s immune system function well!

This makes sardines a wonderful treat for any dog, especially senior dogs!

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Are Sardine Bones Dangerous?

Sardines are usually sold with the bones still in. Thankfully, the bones of this fish are small and edible, making sardines safe for dogs to eat.

Pet parents looking to feed their dogs fresh or frozen sardines should look for deboned filetes instead of the whole fish.

Canned Sardines VS. Fresh Sardines

When we think of the healthiest foods to feed our dogs, most of the time, we will think of buying fresh foods since they are usually the best source of nutrients. That being said, fresh sardines may not be the easiest to find and may also be more expensive than the canned option.

Thankfully, canned sardines are still an excellent source of nutrients for your dog. Despite this, not all canned sardines will be a good fit. Here are a couple of things you should avoid and a couple of things to look for:

Canned Sardines to Avoid

When looking for canned sardines for your dog, there are a couple of ingredients you should avoid choosing at all costs.


Sardines can be loaded with salt, depending on where you get them. Unfortunately, salt will make your dog thirsty, and eventually, too much could lead to sodium ion poisoning.

Symptoms of this will include diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, high temperature, seizures, and in extreme cases, death.


Like garlic and onions, many spices are toxic to dogs and can cause many health issues if fed too much. Therefore, it is best to stay away from spices completely when choosing a type of sardine to feed them.

Artificial Flavors

These are usually made up of completely unnecessary chemicals for your dog to consume. Therefore, it is best to avoid these when choosing what type of sardine to feed your dog.


While most plant-based oils like olive oil used for sardines are safe for dogs, they may end up providing them with too much fatty acid, which will lead to inflammation.

Although olive oil can be good for dogs, it can be excessive and lead to additional pounds on your dog if you feed them treats soaked in it.

If your dog is already getting enough of these oils in their snacks and nutritionally complete dog food, they should not need the extra oil!

Canned Sardines to Look For

When choosing what kind of canned or tinned sardines to feed your dog, there are a couple of things that you should look for:

Salt-free Sardines

Since too much salt can be horrible for your dog and lead to a stomach upset, you should try looking for canned sardines that are labeled as salt-free.

Little to no Additives

It’s crucial that you choose a canned sardine labeled as little to no additives. To find these, you can also look for sardines packed in water. This will be better for your furry friend’s health and weight management since unnecessary additives can lead to weight gain, among other things.


If you can find fresh fish available to you, you should buy them! Fresh sardines are a larger fish than the canned variety, which means more calories are in them.

The one thing to look out for with fresh sardines is that some can have a large backbone, considering they are larger than the canned version. To ensure that this does not cause your dog to choke, you should remove it before adding it to your dog’s food.

Raw or Cooked Sardines?

Sardines can be fed to your dog raw or cooked. This is great if you are a raw feeder already since your dog will already be used to a raw diet.

If you want to feed sardines to your dogs cooked, it is best to steam them to preserve all the nutrients you can.

How Many Sardines Can Dogs Eat?

When it comes to sardines, a little goes a long way. This is because they are both nutrient and calorie-dense, with one small sardine containing around 25 calories. Of those calories, half are from protein, and half are from fat.

If your dog has too many sardines in their regular diet, it could lead to weight gain, as well as digestive issues. Therefore, if you consider adding sardines to your dog’s diet, you should ensure that you are feeding them the proper amount.

How Many Sardines For Small Dogs

Small dogs weighing less than five pounds should only be fed two sardines a week or about one-fourth a can. Dogs weighing six to fifteen pounds should only be fed four sardines or half a can.

How Many Sardines For Medium Sized Dogs

Medium-sized dogs weighing around 16 to 25 pounds should only be fed five sardines a week, or 5/8th of a can. Dogs 26 to 50 pounds should only be fed eight sardines, or one can a week.

How Many Sardines for Big Dogs?

Dogs that weigh over 51 pounds can eat up to fourteen sardines a week, equalling about one and three-fourths a can.

Do Sardines Contain Mercury?

Mercury, a heavy metal found in many larger fish, is toxic in large concentrations. Thankfully, unlike other fish, sardines contain less mercury!

This is because, in the ocean, sardines are low on the sea’s food chain and do not tend to consume many other sea dwellers, and don’t live long enough lives for the toxins to accumulate.

Final Thoughts

Giving your dogs sardines is an excellent option if you want to add some protein and nutrients to their diet. Whether canned sardines or fresh, your dog will see a boost in their health!

As with any food, it is important not to overfeed your canine sardines, as the fish oil and olive oil found in many tinned sardines can lead to other health issues.

Overall, sardines are an excellent source of protein and nutrients and a welcomed addition to your dog foods.