Are Sardines Good for Dogs?

Written by: Jamie
Updated: March 8, 2020

Unsure if sardines are as good for dogs as they are for us? In today’s article, we investigate and see if sardines are good for dogs or not.

can dogs eat sardines

Do you think your dog may benefit from something other than the complete dry/kibble or wet food you normally feed it? What about sardines?

It’s true, sardines, those oily fish, might not be the first type of fish you’d think to give your dogs.

However, if you are looking to diversify their diet a little and are interested in inexpensive fish for a tasty treat, it is a very valid question to ask are sardines good for dogs.

The short and simple answer is that, yes, dogs can eat sardines. They are extremely beneficial in a lot of ways for the wellbeing and overall health of your canine buddy.

However, before you rush out and buy your dog just any old sardines, there are some important things you need to know.

To help you out, in the following post we will look at the various benefits of feeding your dog sardines, the risks involved, why you should be careful when choosing canned sardines and how many to give your dog.

dog eating a treat

Benefits of Sardines for Dogs

Just as sardines, like many other oily white fish, are great for us to eat, because of their various properties, they are also a healthy addition to your dog’s diet.

Some of the main benefits of allowing your dog to eat sardines are outlined below.

  • High in Omega-3 and other Healthy Fatty Acids

Sardines are very high in various fatty acids that are essential for good health, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.

Unlike other fatty acids that can be produced naturally in the body, omega-3 can only be consumed as part of your dog’s diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important as they can help with brain development and maintain your four-legged friend’s eye health.

Furthermore, they can also help to manage and reduce inflammation in your dog’s joints and skin.

canned sardines

  • Low Levels of Saturated Fats

Similarly, to their human owners, it is not good for dogs to have too many saturated fats in their diet, as this can increase their weight dramatically and cause a handful of health issues.

Saturated fats are also responsible for the increase in blood cholesterol concentrations in dogs.

Sardines are not only high in omega fatty acids but also low in saturated fats, that are unhealthy.

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  • Great Lean Protein Source

Protein is obviously important for your dog’s growth and continued health as it helps them maintain strength and vitality.

The interesting thing is that while many dogs survive well on either a plant-based or animal-based diet, they thrive better when they have a lean source of protein.

Sardines are an incredible source of lean protein. This not only makes them a healthier option than other proteins, but they are also a much cheaper option too.

rottweiler chihuahua and food bowl

  • Cost-Effective

Following on nicely from the last part of the point above, it’s true, while it can be costly to feed your furry friend pork, chicken, beef and other sources of lean protein, the same is not true when it comes to sardines.

Particularly if you buy sardines in a can, they are a great option if you are trying to diversify your pooch’s diet and are on a tight budget.

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Are There Any Risks Involved?

Now you know the benefits of feeding your dog sardines, let’s look at some of the downsides and risks involved.

One of the main concerns dog owners have regarding sardines is the mercury levels found inside fish.

However, without downplaying the seriousness of mercury poisoning for animals and humans, the fact is that sardines are very small and what’s more, have lifespans that are so short that they don’t have enough time to consume enough mercury that it’s a problem.

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Another concern you, like many other dog owners, may have is about fish bones and them being a potential choking hazard.

However, as sardines are a soft-boned fish, they are less likely to cause any problems for your dog’s teeth or digestive system.

However, as a precaution, it may be, if possible, a good idea to remove any of the larger bones just to be safe rather than sorry.

Puppies eating

What about Canned Sardines?

Now you’re probably wondering – can dogs eat sardines from cans? Again, the simple answer is yes.

It’s worth noting though that not all canned sardines are the same. There are various options out there and sardines in cans are often packed with a variety of different sauces and oils.

To be on the safe side, it’s best if you feed your dog, canned sardines that are:

  • Wild caught
  • Contain no added salt
  • Packed in water

Try, if possible, and avoid any that are packed in:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Ketchup
  • Soy oil
  • Corn oil
  • Brine
  • Any other sauces!


hungry dog

What About Portions?

So, you know the benefits and the risks involved with feeding your dog sardines. That leads us on nicely to the portion size.

You obviously don’t want to give your dog too much and make them ill, but at the same time, you don’t want to be neglectful and not give him or her enough.

So, what is a healthy portion of sardines to give to your pooch? Well, in general, it depends on your canine buddy’s weight.

Below we have included a handy guide to help you make smart decisions.

  • 5lbs – ¼ can of sardines a week
  • 15lbs – ½ can of sardines a week
  • 25lbs – 5/8 can of sardines a week
  • 50lbs – 1 can of sardines a week
  • 100lbs – 1 ¾ cans of sardines a week

Sardines can be incorporated into your dog’s diet one to two times a week alongside their normal food. You need to be careful though, not to overfeed them as they will put on too much weight.

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Dogs often like a bit of variety, especially when it comes to food. Beyond just the flavor and taste though, it could be of benefit to your dog’s health to incorporate sardines into their diet.

They are suitable for dogs and will not cause your canine any significant problems. Just remember to be careful that you choose the right variety of canned sardines as outlined above and you’ll be fine.

We’re sure that your lovely furry friend will appreciate all you do to give them a tasty diet and their overall health will benefit from the lean protein and fatty acids.


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About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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