Can Dogs Eat Sardines?

Though you may read about the many risks of eating fish, you need to take such details with the proverbial grain of salt. Just stop to consider both sides of the argument. The opposition says:

  • Fish has mercury
  • Fish has easily swallowed bones
  • Some fish can lead to health problems.

On the other hand, those in favor of fish in the diet say:

  • Fish is full of Omega-3 oils
  • Fish is a remarkably healthy source of protein
  • Some fish can reduce health problems.

All of this conflicting information can leave the average person dizzy. Things are worse when you are trying to figure out whether it is a good idea to give a beloved dog some fish in order to improve their diet. After all, will you harm or help the dog by adding foods such as sardines to their eating plan?

The answer is fairly simple: you can feed your dog sardines without risking their health, but the key is to feed them salt-free packed in water (not oil).

Here is the basic gist of why sardines are one of the healthiest and safest fish for a dog: they are chock full of Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA. These are great for the skin and the coat, but they also help to reduce inflammation and give a nice boost to the immune system. Thus, the dog with allergies will benefit from sardines as well as a dog with arthritis or some autoimmune conditions too. Because the natural oils in sardines are good for brain health, it is a good idea to supplement a dog (and a puppy’s) diet with the fish too.

Note we just said that sardines are a good supplement. This is the best way to give such a healthy food to a dog. A single sardine averages around 175mg of Omega-3 acids. This means that you can use one water-packed fish as an added treat or mashed into their wet food. If a dog is larger, you can give them two servings safely. You do need to stick with the water-packed varieties as they are lower in sodium and contain only the Omega-3 oils.

Like other fish, you can substitute pink salmon or even mackerel, but always use low-sodium and water packed varieties, and only supplement the diet with these healthy snacks. It is unwise to give dogs a steady diet of fish, but sardines make a nice “extra” to a healthy eating plan.

29 Responses to “Can Dogs Eat Sardines?”

  1. Jackie Hansen says:

    I give my dogs sardines in water 3 times a week along with peas n carrots n frozen fruit (ie. Pineapple blueberries strawberries blackberries n raspberries). And occasionally cottage cheese. They love it n the vet says they r healthy n it is all good for them!!!

  2. Chris says:

    I just give my golden retriever a tin of sardines in tomato sauce only fish tin that was in lol but will sardines sort is belly out as bad pooes at night and will this help him from hitching??? Thanks

  3. Rebeli says:

    I think this info and if you can read this books could be good: Steve Brown, is one of the most respected pet nutrition and he’s done some amazing research on foods. Author of Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet and See Spot Live Longer. He says “sardines in water with not salt added are the best for dogs…”.

  4. Aida says:

    Our welsh springer spaniel had huge problems with anal glands and itchy skin. We started adding 1 sardine (in water) with bones into her food and she got much MUCH better. Suddenly she doesn’t like sardines any more, and we’re back to the old problems. She likes mackerel but it doesn’t seem to do the same trick. Going to try tuna next.

  5. Jerry Casaday says:

    In researching this question on numerous vet websites, the oil naturally occuring in the fish is great….but the salt-laden packing oil is problematic. So, do you want to add the benefits of sardines to your dog’s diet, or do you want to add oil? My beagle-mix mutts get sardines in water added to their food one to two times a week. Their flaky, dry, itchy skin problems are a thing of the past.

  6. Marlene Brancato says:

    Our vet recommended putting down our Border Collie at 2years old because of her growing fear of just about any noise.We switched her to sardines and rice exclusively .She just passed at 15 years having saved a toddler from being run over by a car and another from drowning during her lifetime… As well as being one of our best BCs ever.

  7. mo says:

    I give my dog sardines with oil every other day alternating with butchers tripe. Mixed with kibble. He is very fit and healthy. No stool problems at all.

  8. […] Info from RaisingHealthyDogs […]

  9. Denise Rambow says:

    I read some research that some dogs if fed too much fish oil from this source can end up with vitamin E deficiency which can be very disabling, causing severe ‘arthritic’ type limping and immobility. Is there any subtsance to these claims?

  10. Sue Mitchell says:

    I have an adopted orphan Aussie Smithfield Cattle dog, because she didn’t get the good stuff from her mothers milk she suffered all sorts of problems, her immunity was shot to pieces, she was allergic to a lot of things, and suffered badly with constipation. I’m a retired vet’ nurse, and I decided to go grain and beef free dog food, it helped a lot, but didn’t fix her immune system, I decided to give her sardines in spring water, and she has improved so much, I’m over the moon about it and would reckonmend it to anyone.

  11. Edie says:

    What about the bones in sardines? Do you take them out?

  12. Jules says:

    My 11 year old malamute is happy and vet healthy. No joint issues. Heart is healthy and I credit it to her sardines. She’s been fed them most nights on top of her biscuits for at least 8years. Just one tiny can per night poured on top, makes the biscuits delicious. She LOVES it.
    Sardines in spring water of course.

  13. Jill says:

    @peeps asking about brines, brine always means a ton of sodium/salt. So no, not gud. That’s what brine is, loaded with sodium to retain water/moisture, while it can make meats very flavorful, its not good or healthy for humans or animals. I did a brine turkey one year, I’m not very strict about diet, but naturally eat 5 groups and have that balance, but I am responsible for my dog, so he gets no brine, lol, yes Olive him more than me.

  14. Jill says:

    @Mike, your like me, I want the why? I’m gonna Google it, but off the cuff, Id guess cholesterol. In which case olive oil, pure vegetable oil, any kind of nut or fish oil would be fine.

  15. Frances says:

    Brines are usually packed with sodium so I would not do it with my dogs. Packed in water, sodium free is the way to go

  16. robson says:

    what about sardines in brine ?

  17. Frances says:

    Keppie, depending on your dog’s sensitivity to oils they might. So start with a small amount.

  18. This is really good information but does not answer what I’m curious about – will it give him the runs…

  19. S. Dunn says:

    Look up the nutrition facts on the sardines you feed, the ones packed in water have half the sodium and less calories as those packed in oil.

  20. Frances says:

    not sure eating the water or oil out of the can will be a big benefit. The sardines themselves are pretty cheap and most dogs love them

  21. pam says:

    I have a 11 month old Boxer /lab , is it ok to just give him the oil or water out of the can ? with it still have an effect on his coat and health ? and if so how much a week , he is about 70 pounds, i was buying the omega 3 fish oil but its pretty costly ! thank you !

  22. Siva says:

    I have a mongrel mix puppy about 5 months old..
    He don’t eat his puppy dry food.. Therefore I give him cooked food like sardines n potato n carrot with mashed rice or alternatively chickens..
    He seem to be scratching alot.. Sometimes may I knows how to feed him effectively ? And e dry food is being wasted as he never touches them!

  23. Traci says:

    I give my golden retriever sardines from the can packed in water on a regular basis and he just loves them!

  24. Lindsay says:

    I’ve just started feeding my two jack Russell’s fish twice a week though I am now confused over which is best as some say fish in oil, & others say fish in water. My boys are both just under 10kg each & currently I’ve been feeding them a 120g tin of sardines in sunflower twice a week. Is this too much? Would it be better if they just had one tin between them? I serve it with brown rice (cooked in low sodium veg stock – 1/2 cube) plus a tablespoon of peas, or mixed veg, each.
    I would be very grateful for your thoughts….

    Kind regards

    Lindsay x

  25. Frances says:

    Hi Mike, the only reason why I said water packed it for calories. I am so paranoid about my dogs getting fat (I had two fat labs before) that I always look for the least caloric option. And you are correct. There is nothing wrong with sardines packed with oil. I should have said it is a personal preference of mine. Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate your thoughtful response and for calling me on my imprecision.

  26. Mike says:

    I would also like to know why not give them oil. I have heard olive oil is good for a dog’s coat. The article says no oil, but does this mean no olive oil as well? Not explaining why with some kind of reputable source makes this article untrustworthy.

  27. Aphelia_Rayne says:

    it says right in the article to only use ones packed in water.

  28. Lisa Rudd says:

    Would like to know if sardines in oil in a tin are ok to give my dog and how much do u give them
    with thanks Lisa

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