Sardines are among the healthiest types of fish, and thankfully, they are abundant in many of the world’s oceans and seas.
Some even consider them a superfood because these small cold-water oily fish contain some of the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids and the lowest amount of mercury of all types of fish.
These small fish are one of the essential elements of the Mediterranean diet, which has been ranked the number one best diet in the world for the fifth consecutive year by US News & World Report.
But unfortunately, they are highly perishable, so the chances are that you will have a much harder time finding fresh sardines than canned ones.
But are sardines as healthy and good for our dogs as they are for us?
Read on to find out can dogs eat sardines and how to prepare them for your pup properly.
We have added some basic guidelines on adding sardines to your pet’s diet, some suitable alternatives, and general safety precautions for dog parents.
What Are The Health Benefits of Sardines for Pups?
While sardines are only 6-12 inches in size, they are considered nutritional powerhouses. These fish are loaded with vital nutrients and have the highest levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acid per serving compared to any other fish.
Also, they are an excellent source of vitamin D and calcium. The other essential vitamins and minerals include vitamin B12, vitamin B3 (niacin), coenzyme Q10, amino acids, selenium, iodine, and phosphorus.
Unlike other oily cold-water fish, they contain very little mercury. Mercury poisoning can lead to severe health problems and affect the kidneys, digestive system, cardiovascular and nervous systems. The larger the fish is – the more mercury it contains.
Related: Can Dogs Eat Fish?
The Main Beneficial Nutrients in Sardines for Dogs
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These healthy fatty acids are as good for our four-legged companions as they are for us.
Your dog’s coat will become shinier and healthier, and so will its skin. Omega-3 helps reduce shedding and the production of dandruff.
It can also help boost the dog’s immune system and relieve inflammations like arthritis.
Plus, it can help improve mental health and resolve depression in some pups.
This is the vitamin that dogs and we get from the sun. It is an essential vitamin, but too much can lead to severe health issues.
While dogs like use need vitamin D to live, they cannot produce enough of it naturally. This is why vitamin D should be added to the pup’s diet.
This vital vitamin is essential for the proper functioning of the dog’s nervous system and muscles. It is also needed for the proper absorption and use of calcium in the pup’s body.
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is crucial for many aspects of the health of canines. It is needed for proper brain and nervous system function and the formation and development of red blood cells. It also protects the animal’s spine and can help reduce the risk of certain pancreas illnesses.
Cobalmin plays an essential role in keeping the digestive system of your pet functioning properly and staying healthy.
Vitamin B12 can help increase the appetite in dogs, which is especially useful for pups with illnesses and a lack of appetite.
These main building blocks of protein ensure that the dog’s cells are growing healthy and protected and that any damaged ones are repaired.
Sardines are packed with amino acids so that they can benefit the overall health of your dog significantly.
As pups age, their bodies gradually lose their ability to produce enough coenzyme Q10. These cell mitochondria are predominant, especially in the muscle and brain cells.
Low levels of coenzyme Q10 in canines can lead to fatigue, lowered energy levels, and illnesses.
What Is The Best Way To Prepare Sardines For Dogs?
These healthy fish are very easy to prepare. You can even feed them raw to your pup, but before that, you should remove the bones.
Even though they are soft-boned, sardines need to be cooked if you want to achieve the consistency of canned sardines and make them softer and safer for the pup.
The best way to cook sardines is to steam them lightly to preserve the healthy nutrients while softening the bones. Steaming them will also keep their taste and the oil, which will make them even more attractive to your pup.
Can I Give My Dog Canned Sardines?
Yes, but only if they do not have added salt or other harmful ingredients to canines.
Canned sardines are cooked to a point where their bones have disintegrated completely. So, you do not need to debone them before serving them to your four-legged companion.
Choose sardines that have been canned and conserved with natural oil or water and are salt-free.
You can add a couple to your pup’s regular dog food. But cut them up in manageable pieces if you have a small pup to reduce the risks of choking and obstruction.
What About Sardines Preserved in Olive Oil?
As long as the fish is conserved in natural oil, it is safe for dogs. Oils such as olive or coconut are safe.
You should check the label and avoid feeding your pup with sardines conserved in brine or processed sauces. Too much sodium can lead to health problems in dogs.
Instead, opt for sardines canned in spring water, fresh water, or natural oils.
How Many Sardines Should You Give to Your Dog?
The number of sardines you can safely add to your pup’s diet depends on the weight and size of your pet, as well as its age, activity level, and overall health.
You can feed your small dog a small sardine daily or at least twice a week. For larger dogs, we recommend a bigger sardine daily or at least twice a week too.
Please, speak to your vet before adding any new food to your pet’s diet.
Start by adding a little bit of sardines at first. If the dog doesn’t display any adverse reactions, you can gradually increase the quantity until the recommended amount is reached.
Always cut up the sardines into small pieces so your dog does not choke on them or suffer an obstruction by swallowing them without chewing.
Keep in mind that sardines are not only nutrient-dense but are high in calories. A small sardine has about 25 calories made out of fat and protein. So, overfeeding your dog with these fish can lead to digestive issues and weight gain.
What Are Some Sardine Alternatives You Can Give To Your Dog?
If you live somewhere where sardines are not as readily available or affordable, or if your furbaby is not too enthusiastic about eating them, you can choose other fish.
Other types of fish can provide the same or similar health advantages for pups.
If your dog simply doesn’t like the taste and smell of fish, you can give it some supplements which contain the healthy nutrients in sardines instead.
Is It Safe to Feed Sardines To Your Dog?
When adequately prepared and fed in moderation, sardines are safe and can be very healthy for canines.
They are loaded with essential nutrients that can boost your pet’s health and improve its physical and mental health, activity levels, and overall wellbeing.
Sardines can be given to dogs raw, cooked, or canned, but if the abovementioned guidelines for preparing them are followed.