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Can Dogs Eat Sardines? Are Sardines Good for Dogs?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Sardines are abundant in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean seas. They are revered for their nutritional benefits, as well as their lower levels of mercury. However, these soft boned fish are highly perishable, so they are most often found canned rather than fresh. Although they are not that popular in the USA, sardines are especially popular in the Mediterranean diet and, as well as being considered very healthy for human consumption, they are also considered a healthy food for dogs.

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Health Benefits of Sardines for Dogs

Sardines are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories and are considered oily fish, which means that they have a high level of omega fatty acids. They are also rich in coenzyme Q10, vitamin B, and vitamin D. They also have the benefit of being easy to prepare and most dogs enjoy the smell and the taste of this little fish.

Their size, and the fact that they live primarily on plankton, means that they have lower mercury levels than a lot of other fish. Mercury poisoning can cause severe problems with the cardiovascular system, nervous system, kidneys, and digestive system. The bigger the fish, the higher the level of mercury they possess, and the greater the risk of mercury poisoning.

cooked sardines
Image Credit: Pixabay
Sardines contain the following beneficial ingredients:
  • Omega3 Fatty Acids – Most of us have heard of omega-3, and we know that it is good for us. We’re regularly told that we should get more of this nutrient in our diets. The same is also true for our dogs. Most dogs would benefit from a higher intake of omega- It nourishes the skin and coat, minimizes shedding and dandruff production, and improves the luster of your canine companion’s coat. Omega-3 is also known to enhance the immune system and can stave off inflammatory conditions like arthritis. The DHA even benefits mental health, acting as a natural antidepressant in dogs.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is an essential vitamin for dogs, although too much can be dangerous. This means that they need it to survive, but it also means that they are unable to produce enough of the vitamin naturally. Therefore, it is an essential component of your dog’s diet. Vitamin D helps muscles and nerves to function properly, but its most important role is that it helps the body to absorb calcium and it properly regulates the body’s use of calcium.
  • Vitamin B12Cyanocobalamin is vital to your dog’s energy level. It also increases your dog’s hunger, which means that it will be easier to encourage them to eat a good diet of healthy foods. It produces myelin, which coats the brain and helps to protect it and ensure its proper functioning. It also aids in the protection of the spine, the production of red blood cells, and prevents diseases like exocrine pancreatic d
  • Amino Acids – Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are used to grow, repair, and protect cells, so their role in the body is critical. This is another nutrient that is found in abundance in sardines and that is vital to the good health of your dog.
  • Coenzyme Q10Coenzyme Q10 is found in the body of all dogs, but as dogs age, they are less able to produce it in a high enough quantity. It is a component of the mitochondria in cells. This is particularly common in brain and muscle cells. When Q10 levels are low, it can lead to illness and will commonly mean reduced energy levels and increased fatigue.

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How To Prepare Sardines for Your Dog

English Bulldog eating
Image credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

As well as being healthy for your dog, sardines are blissfully easy to prepare. They can be fed raw or cooked. If you are feeding raw, you should try to remove the bones. Although sardines are considered soft boned, they can still be quite hard when the fish is raw as they haven’t been boiled to the point of disintegration like they have in canned sardines.

If you want to cook them before giving them to your dog, the best approach is to lightly steam them. This ensures that the fish retains most of its nutritional value, and it will retain plenty of flavor and oil that will make the food even more appealing for your pooch.

Are Canned Sardines Healthy For Dogs?

Canned sardines are prepared and ready cooked. They have usually been boiled, and they have been boiled so hard that the bones have turned to mush. This means that you can simply open the can and transfer the fish from can to bowl. However, you do need to take heed of what the fish is stored in.

Can Dogs Eat Sardines In Olive Oil?

Natural oils like olive oil and coconut oil are fine, but you should avoid processed sauces and brine. Brine is just salt water, which can dehydrate your dog and may cause sickness. Freshwater and spring water are common liquids, and these are also considered healthy for your dog.

canned sardines
Image Credit: Pixabay

How Many Sardines Can A Dog Eat?

Dogs can benefit from having sardines as little as twice a week, but they can cope with having the food every day. Similarly, the size of the breed will determine how many sardines you should feed. Small dogs can eat a single, small sardine a day, while larger dogs can have one large sardine each day, or even a whole raw sardine.

Alternatives To Sardines

Sardines are a healthy and beneficial source of different vitamins and minerals. They are a good protein source and, as such, they can form the basis of your dog’s weekly diet.

However, some dogs don’t enjoy them, and in some parts of the world, they could be difficult to find and prove expensive to feed regularly. Fish alternatives that you can give your dog are mackerel and wild pink salmon. But, if your dog doesn’t like the taste of sardines, there is a good chance they won’t like the taste of these other fish. Look for supplements and feed meat-based protein sources from their daily diet.

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Are Sardines Safe For Dogs?

Sardines are not only considered safe for dogs, they are a healthy addition to their diet. They contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, which is an essential vitamin. You can feed them canned, raw, or cooked sardines. If you know your pooch likes this treat, you can offer a small sardine a day to small dogs, and a large sardine a day for large dogs.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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