Can Dogs Have Sardines?

can dogs eat sardines

You might be more likely to associate fish with cats but most dogs find fish irresistible. Maybe it’s the strong odor that attracts dogs to fish such as sardines. The good news is that fish, including sardines, are a healthy source of protein. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation. The omega-3s in sardines are also good for your heart. Yes, dogs can have sardines. Sardines are very good for dogs. Learn more about sardines and dogs when we look at their nutritional value below.


Sardines are considered to be a nutritious food. Our nutritional information is based on canned sardines packed in water rather than in oil. Sardines in water have slightly fewer calories than sardines in oil.

One serving of canned sardines is considered to be 94 grams. One can of sardines contains 3.75 ounces or 106.31 grams. So, a can of sardines is more than one serving.

Sardines are about 50 percent protein and 50 percent fats.

One serving of sardines packed in water contains 90 calories. Sardines are very high in cholesterol.

Sardines are an excellent source of vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin D, calcium, niacin, and iodine, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper, along with antioxidants.

People and dogs with kidney problems may need to avoid sardines. Sardines contain a substance called purines that creates uric acid. The same is true of anchovies, shellfish, and tuna. When uric acid builds up it can cause kidney and gout problems for anyone that is already susceptible. Talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog sardines if he has kidney problems.

Sardines are high in sodium. One can of sardines may contain 465 milligrams of sodium. A dog that weighs 33 pounds needs about 100 milligrams of sodium per day. Sardines provide much more salt than the average dog needs. If you are giving your dog sardines occasionally you should make sure that he has plenty of water available. Don’t give him sardines or other salty food day after day. He will need to go back to his regular (non-salty) diet. Wait a few days before you let him have any other foods that are high in sodium, including sardines. Too much sodium/salt in your dog’s diet could lead to dehydration or salt poisoning.

Can Dogs Have Sardines?

Yes, dogs can have sardines. Sardines are a wonderful source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and selenium. The fatty acids in sardines are especially good for your dog’s skin and coat. They can also help with other skin problems such as dry skin and itching. They are also good at reducing inflammation, especially if it’s associated with joint problems and arthritis. This can be especially important for large breeds and older dogs.

Sardines contain long chain fatty acids such as such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA, in particular, is associated with cognitive function and eye development. It is often added to puppy food and it’s also helpful for senior pets. The DHA in sardines can help with puppy brain and eye development as well as possibly reduce cognitive problems for older dogs.

Sardines also contain a nutrient called ubiquinol (also called coenzyme10). This antioxidant is present in many cells throughout your dog’s body. Boosting their levels can help protect your dog’s heart. Sardines are one of the foods that have been recommended for dogs that have experienced the nutritional form of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

Sardines contain all of the essential amino acids that your dog’s body needs. They support all of the functions of the body including organ function and digestion.

Compared to many other fish, sardines are low in mercury. Bigger fish that are higher on the food chain generally have much more mercury than small fish like sardines. Trace amounts of mercury can accumulate in your dog over the years so you do need to ration how many sardines you add to your pet’s diet.

How Many Sardines Can You Give Your Dog?

People usually think that fresh food is a better option but it’s not always easy to find fresh sardines. Canned sardines, on the other hand, are readily available at every small market. Sardines in cans are generally smaller than fresh sardines. You will need to check the label and read the ingredients. Avoid canned sardines that include artificial flavors, spices, oils, or added salt.

Look for sardines that are packed in water without additives. Canned sardines are cooked (steamed) before they are packed in the can so they are not raw when your dog eats them . The bones in the sardines are very small; and they are soft after cooking so you don’t need to worry about your dog choking on them.

If you are buying fresh sardines, expect them to be larger than the fish in a can of sardines. These fish may have bigger bones, especially backbones. You may need to remove the backbones before giving them to your dog. This can keep them from being a choking hazard.

You can give these fresh sardines to your dog raw or you can cook them. They are usually steamed to cook them so they retain more nutrients.

A dog that weighs 30-50 pounds can eat approximately one can of plain sardines per week. Smaller dogs should eat less than a can. Larger dogs can eat more. A dog that weighs 10 pounds could eat ½ can of sardines.  A dog that weighs 100 pounds could eat two cans of sardines. (The Whole-Dog Journal  has a nice section on sardines and how much to give your dog.)

Remember to always start out by giving your dog just a small amount of a new food. Watch for any adverse reactions such as vomiting. If your dog does well with the new food you can give him more the next time.

How Often Can You Give Your Dog Sardines?

Sardines tend to be high in calories. They are also high in sodium. And, even though they are low in mercury it can still add up. You need to allow your dog to have time between sardine servings so any contaminants can be passed from his body.

You can give your dog sardines about once per week. This isn’t a definite schedule. One week you might give your dog sardines twice then skip a week. As long as you try to space out how often you give your dog sardines he should be fine.

There are lots of ways to add sardines to your dog’s diet. You can mince them and add some to your dog’s dinner. Mix some in batter for homemade dog cookies. My dogs love them straight from the can. Of course, don’t forget to give your dog the water the sardines were packed in. Dogs love this sardine-flavored liquid and you can pour it over your dog’s food.

I buy sardines for my dogs so often at the grocery store that it’s embarrassing. I can’t stand them but I keep buying them. I find myself explaining every week that they are for my dogs.


Sardines are one of the healthiest treats you can give your dog. Packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, sardines are great for your dog’s heart, skin and coat, and his joints. Canned or fresh, don’t over do how many sardines you give your dog. They are high in calories and sodium.



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