Can Dogs Eat Sardines? The Dos and Don'ts

Sardines are packed with nutrients, but can dogs safely enjoy them as well? Find out in our comprehensive guide to feeding sardines to your furry friend.
Can Dogs Eat sardines?

Yes, dogs can eat sardines in moderation. Sardines are a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B12 and D. However, they should not be a regular part of a dog's diet and should only be given as an occasional treat.


What are Sardines?

Sardines are a type of small, oily fish that are found in abundance in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. They are often used as a source of protein and essential nutrients in various cuisines around the world.

Nutritional Value of Sardines

Sardines are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B12 and D. They also contain minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and selenium, which are important for maintaining good health in both humans and animals.

Benefits of Sardines for Dogs

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Dog Health

Skin and Coat Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help improve your dog's skin and coat health. They can help reduce itching and irritation, and promote the growth of healthy, shiny fur.

Heart Health

Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may help lower the risk of heart diseases in dogs, similar to the benefits experienced by humans. These fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow, potentially reducing the risk of heart problems.

Cognitive Function

Omega-3 fatty acids also play a significant role in brain health, and may help improve cognitive function in older dogs or those with cognitive decline.

Protein and Muscle Health

Protein is an essential nutrient for dogs, as it helps maintain healthy muscles, tissues, and organs. Sardines offer a high-quality source of protein for your dog, promoting muscle growth and replacing damaged muscle fibers.

Vitamin B12 and Energy Levels

Vitamin B12 is important for maintaining a healthy metabolism and energy levels in dogs. Sufficient levels of vitamin B12 can help prevent anemia and maintain brain function.

Vitamin D and Bone Health

Vitamin D helps regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are critical for maintaining strong bones and teeth in dogs. Adequate levels of vitamin D can help prevent conditions such as rickets and osteoporosis.

Risks of Feeding Sardines to Dogs

Bone Hazards

Choking Risks

The small bones found in sardines can pose a choking hazard for dogs, especially if they try to swallow the fish whole or if the bones are not properly removed.

Splintering and Intestinal Damage

Chewing on bones can cause them to splinter, which can lead to damage in your dog's digestive system. It is important to ensure that sardines are properly prepared, with the bones removed or cooked to limit this risk.

Salt and Preservatives

Canned Sardines vs. Fresh Sardines

Canned sardines may contain added salt and preservatives, which can be harmful to your dog when consumed in large amounts. It is important to avoid feeding your dog canned sardines with added salt or preservatives.

Sodium Concerns

High amounts of sodium can cause excessive thirst and urination, and may even lead to sodium ion poisoning in dogs. Always opt for sardines with no added salt or choose fresh or frozen sardines instead.

Mercury and Heavy Metal Contamination

Sardines are generally low in mercury and other heavy metals. However, it is still important to be aware of their possible presence and to choose sardines from reputable sources.

How to Safely Feed Sardines to Your Dog

Proper Preparation of Sardines

Cooking Methods

Sardines can be boiled, baked, steamed, or grilled to make them easier for your dog to digest. Avoid frying sardines, as this can increase the fat content and potentially lead to weight gain or other health issues in your dog.

Bone Removal

To avoid choking risks and intestinal damage from splintered bones, it is essential to remove small bones from sardines before feeding them to your dog.

Choosing the Right Sardines

Fresh vs. Frozen Sardines

Fresh or frozen sardines are typically the healthiest choice for your dog. If you choose canned sardines, look for those packed in water without added salt or preservatives.

Alternatives to Sardines for Dog Nutrition

Other Fish Options

Other fish such as salmon, mackerel, and anchovies may also provide your dog with similar health benefits to sardines, as long as they are prepared safely and fed in moderation.

Supplements for Omega-3 Fatty Acids

If you prefer not to feed your dog fish, you can still provide them with omega-3 fatty acids through supplements such as fish oil capsules.

High-Quality Dog Food

Many high-quality commercial dog foods contain omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients. Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet can help ensure they receive the nutrients they need.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dogs Eat Sardines Every Day?

No, dogs should not eat sardines every day. Sardines should only be given as an occasional treat, and should not be a regular part of their daily diet.

Can Puppies Eat Sardines?

Puppies can eat sardines, but it is important to introduce them slowly to ensure they do not have an adverse reaction. As with adult dogs, sardines should only be given as an occasional treat.

Can I Feed My Dog Sardines with Other Foods?

Yes, you can mix sardines with other foods such as rice, vegetables, or your dog's regular kibble. Just be sure to portion the sardines appropriately and limit other food intake to maintain a balanced diet.

Consult with Your Veterinarian

Importance of a Balanced Diet

It is crucial to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new foods or supplements to your dog's diet. They can help ensure your dog is receiving a well-balanced diet and provide guidance for portion sizes.

Individual Needs and Allergies

Your dog's individual needs and potential allergies must be taken into consideration when feeding sardines or other new foods. Your veterinarian can help identify any potential concerns or risks.

Monitoring Your Dog's Health

Regular veterinarian checkups and monitoring your dog's health will help identify any potential issues or complications arising from their diet. Always consult your veterinarian with any concerns.


In conclusion, sardines can be a healthy and nutritious treat for dogs when given in moderation. However, it is important to properly prepare them and avoid feeding your dog canned sardines that contain added salt or preservatives. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate portion size for your dog, and to ensure a balanced diet and overall good health.

Medically Reviewed by Nauman Zaheer, DVM

Nauman Zaheer Ghumman, DVM is an MPhil qualified Licensed Veterinary Doctor with a wide range of academic writing experience, including published work in an International Veterinary journal and educational material for Pet owners.

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