Sardines For Dogs? Absolutely (They're Packed With Omega-3!) | Herepup
Herepup > Dog Food Articles and Review (2020) > Sardines For Dogs? Absolutely (They’re Packed With Omega-3!)

Sardines For Dogs? Absolutely (They’re Packed With Omega-3!)

Fish oil is commonly used as a healthy additive for dogs that need more support beyond their daily menu. Knowing this, one might wonder, "can dogs eat sardines?" The answer is yes! Instead of fish oil, sardines for dogs is another way to boost the support you give your dog every day.

Sardines, while not the first fish that people think about feeding their dogs, are a really nutritious fish! There are risks to feeding any fish to dogs that largely have to do with where they come from and how they are stored, but sardines are just as healthy as any other fish.

Let’s break down what is so great about sardines, how you can buy them, and how you can include them in your dog’s diet most effectively.

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Are Sardines Good For Dogs?

Yes! Sardines, like other fish, are good for dogs to eat. Giving your dog a few sardines a week is easy to do, and your dog will likely love the taste.

What Are The Benefits Of Feeding Sardines?

There are so many benefits that come with the ingredients in sardines that I’m not sure where to start. First, let’s just list off some of the best nutrients you’ll be giving your dog when you give them this soft-boned fish:

    • Omega-3
    • Vitamin D
    • Vitamin B12
    • Amino acids
    • Coenzyme Q10

While it’s great to know the sardines have those nutrients, you are probably more interested in what those nutrients will do for your dog. Together, those nutrients lead to some great benefits, including:

    • They’re a source of protein that is very healthy.
    • They help with muscle and connective tissue development.
    • They help keep the immune system strong through antibody formation.
    • They can help to protect kidneys from developing kidney disease.
    • Dental disease can also be slowed or prevented thanks to the balance of nutrients in sardines.

Great, right? There are so many good benefits that come along with sardines.

Are There Any Risks To Feeding Your Dog Sardines?

Now that you’ve heard about the benefits, you probably want to know about the risks of feeding sardines.

Three main risks come up when it comes to fish:

    • Fish often contains mercury.
    • Fish has dangerous bones in it.
    • The wrong fish can cause health problems.

Because of these risks, some people choose to avoid fish for their dogs, which I can respect if you aren’t willing to make sure to avoid these risks. 

can dogs eat sardines

With sardines, however, it’s easier to avoid these risks than it is with other fish.

First off, sardines are relatively small in the fish world, and their life cycle and diet makes it unlikely that they will have more than trace amounts of mercury in them.

Next, sardines are a soft-boned fish, and dogs can digest the bones. I do recommend removing the thicker backbone before feeding if you go with flash frozen or fresh sardines, but overall, they’re much easier to feed than other fish.

Sardines are not the wrong fish, so they shouldn’t cause health problems. If you feed too much of any fish, you can face problems with thiamin deficiency, but you’d have to feed an enormous amount of raw fish for that to happen. Never feed a fish-only diet.

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Can Dogs Eat Canned Sardines?

Yes, but you have to choose the right kind of canned sardines! There are a lot of varieties out there, and not every type of canned sardines are fit for consumption by your furry best friend.

Go for canned sardines that are:

  • Salt-free
  • Packed in water
  • Wild caught

Avoid sardines that are packed in:

    • Soy oil
    • Sunflower oil
    • Corn oil
    • Safflower oil
    • Other omega-6 rich oils
    • Ketchup

Canned sardines can be fine, but not all canned food is created equally. Pay close attention to what you’re buying. In particular, check sodium levels and for the presence of a packing oil rich in Omega-6. You don’t want either of these things and should look for another choice if present in the canned food you were considering feeding to your dog.

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What Other Canned Fish For Dogs Should I Consider?

Canned fish for dogs comes in many different varieties, and a lot of them are really great for your dog. Let’s go through a few options you might want to consider instead of or in rotation with sardines:

    • Canned wild Alaska pink salmon - has edible bones!
    • Jack Mackerel
    • Oysters - has lots of zinc, which is good for pregnant or lactating females
    • Wild ocean fish

Always avoid raw salmon or trout, and choose oysters from the Pacific over those from China or the Gulf of Mexico.

How Should I Go About Feeding Dogs Sardines?

It’s pretty straightforward to feed your dog sardines.

You can choose to use canned sardines as long as you make sure to choose good varieties without dangerous oils or salt.

You could also buy fresh sardines and prepare it yourself by removing the backbone. The other bones are OK for your dog, but if you buy large sardines, you may want to remove some of those, too.

You could also buy flash-frozen sardines, of which you’ll also need to remove at least the backbone.

No matter how you feed sardines, just remember that they are not a complete diet and will not be enough to sustain a healthy life for your dog without balancing them out with other food. You can use sardines instead of adding fish oils to their diet, but this is not a complete diet.

How Often Should I Feed Sardines To My Dog?

Any food can cause dogs to be sick, so you should start by feeding a small amount. They should not cause stomach upset, but it’s better to be safe than have a sick pet.

I recommend having one or two days a week that you feed sardines. You don’t need to feed them every day to see the good effects. Since you will be adding calories, lower the amount of other dog food you give them on that day to balance out their total calorie intake.

You can add in the following amounts, depending on your dog’s size:


4 oz can sardines

​5 lbs

1/4 can per week

15 lbs

1/2 can per week

25 lbs

5/8 can per week

50 lbs

1 can per week

100 lbs

1 3/4 cans per week

No matter how you feed it, your dogs will love it! 

Can All Dogs Eat Sardines Without Getting Sick?

Can dogs eat sardines no matter what? No. They may have an allergy or a bad reaction to sardines. This is quite rare. Otherwise, your dog should be fine to eat sardines. I actually really recommend finding a way to work fish into your dog’s diet because of the huge number of positive effects you may see.

Remember that sardines are not a complete diet. To fully round out what you are giving your dog, make sure to feed your dog a balanced diet from one of the top food brands for dogs every day so that you are giving them the best chance at great health and a long life.

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Dr. Laura Harris is our resident dog health expert. She started to fact-check dog health-related information for HerePup during her internship and contributes since then. Her expertise is in dog nutrition, senior dog care, especially critical care medicine and internal medicine.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
James - August 8, 2017

Very interesting and insightful information, glad to see more people becoming aware of the amazing uses for fish, especially when it comes to feed them to our amazing canine companions.

ChihuahuaMama - July 20, 2018

I have two 5.5lb chihuahuas. I feed them half a tin of sardines once a week, is this too much?? It’s hard to save half a tin till next week cause I know it goes back quickly. Any suggestions?


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