Dog Lifestyle, Pet Health

Your Guide to sardines and answer to the question: can my dog eat sardines?

Sardines contain many healthy benefits for your dog! They are full of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D (great for joints and bones!), and selenium which is great for heart health. The great thing is that it is also easy to add sardines to your dog’s food.


Yes! Sardines can be added to your dog’s food for added health benefits and to add flavor and deliciousness to your dog’s food and provide your dog with a healthy treat.

What are sardines?

Sardines are small epipelagic fish that sometimes migrate along the coast in large schools. They are an important forage fish for larger forms of marine life.


The sardines that we eat are usually canned and preserved in different ways. The sardines that we buy at the store will already be cooked and ready for us to open and add to our own and our dogs’ food!

Sardines are commercially fished for a variety of uses: for bait; for immediate consumption; for drying, salting, or smoking; and for reduction into fish meal or oil. The chief use of sardines is for human consumption, but fish meal is used as animal feed, while sardine oil has many uses, including the manufacture of paintvarnish, and linoleum.


What are the benefits of feeding sardines to dogs?


The benefits of feeding Sardines to our dogs are many and include:


Omega-3 fatty acids : Sardines contain many healthy omega-3 fatty acids which help with mobility and inflammation, cancer prevention, and keeping the immune system strong.


Brain Development.  The fatty acids in sardines can help brain development, which makes them good for puppies and kittens.


Sardines are convenient. Commercially available sardines are packed in healthy oils and take no preparation to add to our dogs’ food.



Sardines are affordable. Sardines are very cheap to purchase or you can even catch your own if you have access to the ocean.


Good source of nutrients. Sardine bones and scales provide extra nutrients and minerals that can benefit your dog’s health, such as calcium and phosphorus, vitamins, and potassium.



Sardines support a healthy heart.  Sardines are full of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), CoQ10 supports a healthy heart and circulation.



Sardines are clean fish. Sardines have less pollutants from the ocean like mercury than other larger fish.



Sardines and Arthritis and Inflammation


According to the Arthritis Foundation and our article on managing pet arthritis and inflammation, one way to calm inflammation is to add a few key anti-inflammatory foods to your dog’s diet.


Among the most potent edible inflammation fighters are essential fatty acids called omega-3s – particularly the kinds of fatty acids found in fish and are called marine fatty acids because they come from fish. 


Omega-3s interfere with immune cells called leukocytes and enzymes known as cytokines, which are both key players in the body’s inflammatory response.


Marine fatty acids containing omega-3 sources are a worthwhile menu addition for dogs (and people) with arthritis due to their ability to inhibit inflammation. 


“The marine omega-3 fatty acids nip inflammation in the bud before it ignites. They really help to tamp down inflammation in the body on a cellular level,” says Kim Larson, a Seattle-based nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson. 

Research finds that people and dogs who regularly eat fish high in omega-3s are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And in those who already have the disease, marine omega-3s may help reduce joint swelling and pain. 

Just like our Relieve-Plus CBD Hemp spray, Omega 3 sources from sardines are another powerful inflammation fighter and useful addition to any pet’s wellness routine, especially pet’s with arthritis.  



Dogs and Mercury and Fish


Unfortunately many fish that are rich in omega-3s are also high in mercury, which can cause brain and nervous system damage when eaten in large enough quantities or even in small quantities in smaller pets. 


We hear about mercury a lot in fish and it is important to consider for pets especially since their bodies are smaller and consuming mercury will be more concentrated in their body. 


According to Harvard, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury, a toxic metal, and some seafood contains other contaminants known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). As small fish are eaten by larger fish up the food chain, concentrations of mercury and POPs increase, so that large, predatory deep-ocean fish tend to contain the highest levels. 


“It’s important to choose the smaller fish that have less mercury,” Larson, tells the Arthritis Foundation.  


Smaller fish like sardines are lower in mercury simply by virtue of their position near the bottom of the food chain. When larger fish like swordfish, king mackerel, tuna and shark feed on large numbers of small fish, mercury from all of those fish accumulates in their bodies. Which makes sardines an even more attractive option for pets over other fish choices.  


How many sardines can I give my dog?

Sardines are packed with healthy nutrients but at the same time may be rich for dogs and cause stomach issues if too many are given at any one time. Sardines are also very nutritionally dense and you actually do not need to feed that many to see the positive benefits of feeding sardines to your dog.


Additionally, any time you are introducing a new food to your pet you will want to do it slowly.


You can give your dog one sardine for the first 3-5 days, then two per day after that. After another week or so can increase the amount to three if he is not having any negative responses to them but most small to medium sized dogs really only will need about one or day.


Can my dog eat sardines in Tomato sauce and other oils they are packed in?


You may find that when buying sardines at your local store that they are packed in various dressings and oils like mustard, cottonseed oils, olive oils, and tomato sauce.


Your dog can eat sardines in tomato sauce and other items they are packed in but you want to make sure your pet enjoys the sardines along with the health benefits so be sure that the dressings are not too spicy and deter your pet from enjoying sardines.  


Additionally, sardines packed in olive oils will be more beneficial due to health benefits of olive oil in its own right as opposed to cottonseed or other oils. 


Tomatoes sauces and mustards may have excess sodium so it is good to watch for that as well.  

Can my dog eat canned sardines?


Yes! You your dog can eat canned sardines. In fact, we prefer canned sardines as they may be fresher, have less bones and be of a size that are safe and welcome for your pet.


Can my dog eat fresh sardines?


Yes! Your dog can eat fresh sardines. However, unless you live close to the coast or can purchase fish caught by a local fisherman, canned sardines will make it easier for you to ensure your pet is getting the highest quality of food.


Can my dog eat sardine bones?


Although sardine bones are an excellent source of calcium you should be careful with bones in fresh sardines in particular. Bones in canned sardines are typically cooked and softer or removed altogether. Larger bones in fresh sardines should be removed prior to feeding your dog sardines.


Tips for feeding Sardines to your dog


Sardines can be a healthy treat for your dog and can be mixed into your dog’s food or fed as a separate meal. To mix sardines in their regular food, simply add them to your dog’s regular food and mix both together before serving. 



Sardines can be a great convenient and tasty addition to your dog’s diet but you want to make sure that your dog can also enjoy the health benefits of sardines. Make sure to check the ingredients on what they are packed in and ensure that they are safe by removing any bones and ease sardines into your pet’s diet.