Can Dogs Eat Sardines? Are These Little Fishies Good for Them?

can dogs eat sardines

You either love them or you hate them. I’m definitely in the first camp, but these oily little fish are not for everyone. But what about dogs? We know they love the smell, but can dogs eat sardines? Are there any benefits? And what should you think about before feeding them to your pooch?

In this blog, we’re going to explore everything there is to know about these strong-tasting fish, so you know whether to add them to your dog’s diet or not.

In Short: Can Dogs Eat Sardines?

Yes. Dogs can eat sardines. In fact, there are quite a few benefits of feeding these fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your dog. But, moderation is key and you need to make sure they’re plain and not dripping in oil.

Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Sardines

There are lots of reasons why sardines are good for dogs. Not only are they yummy treats that are packed full of nutrition, but they’re also low in calories, so are healthier than many shop-bought alternatives.

  • High in Protein. Sardines are naturally high in protein which is an important component of any dog’s diet. Protein helps support muscle growth and can help your pup to feel fuller for longer and so therefore help with weight.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are really important when it comes to brain function and health. They can also help with eyesight and general health.
  • Essential Vitamins and Minerals. It’s amazing how many vitamins and minerals are packed into these small fish. But it’s true! They’re a good source of calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and taurine. They also contain coenzyme q10, which is important for heart health and function. If you’re looking to get more essential nutrients into your dog’s body, sardines are a good choice!

Risks of Feeding Sardines to Dogs

Sardines should only be fed to pups as part of a balanced diet. If you want to feed sardines to your pup, it needs to be in moderation. Dogs should get 90% of their daily nutrients from specially formulated dog food (such as fresh dog food). The other 10% can come from healthy human snacks, like sardines.

  1. Upset Stomach. If dogs are given too many sardines, they’ll likely get an upset stomach. This could include vomiting and diarrhea, so it’s best to only give your pup the odd sardine as a special snack.
  2. Choking Hazard. Sardines usually come whole – including bones. Larger bones could be a choking hazard for smaller pups. If you do have a small dog, such as a Cavachon or a Havapoo, it’s best to cut the sardines up into bite-size pieces.
  3. Mercury Poisoning. Oily fish tend to have higher levels of mercury in them than other types of fish. If dogs eat fish with high levels of mercury, in big amounts and very often, it could lead to mercury poisoning. This is another important reason why dogs should only be fed sardines in moderation.
  4. Weight Gain. Again, this is unlikely, but if your dog eats sardines that have been preserved in oil, they can easily put on weight. Try to only feed your dog plain sardines and in moderation.
sardines in bowl

Can Dogs Eat Sardines in Olive Oil?

Olive oil and olives can be good for dogs but only in very small amounts. Whilst feeding your dog sardines in olive oil isn’t toxic, it’s best to stick to plain sardines so you can monitor their calorie and fat intake.

Calories and fat can cause dogs to gain weight and suffer from the illnesses associated with that.

Can Dogs Eat Sardines in Sunflower Oil?

Again, sardines in sunflower oil contain a higher level of fat and many more calories than plain sardines. Whilst the very occasional sardine in sunflower oil shouldn’t affect your dog, it’s best to give them plain sardines.

Can Dogs Eat Sardines in Tomato Sauce?

Depending on the exact ingredients, it’s best to avoid sardines in tomato sauce. Ripe tomatoes themselves are not toxic to dogs but other ingredients, such as garlic, chili, and onions, are. What’s more, sardines in tomato sauce contain higher levels of salt, which isn’t good for your dog’s health and can even cause salt poisoning in dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Sardines in Water?

Yes! Sardines in water are best for your dog. Unlike other ways of preserving sardines, water contains no calories so is a healthy way to add this as a treat to your dog’s diet. Just double-check that there are no other ingredients in the tin.

Can Dogs Eat Canned Sardines?

That really depends on the sauce. As we said, sardines in cans that are preserved in water are fine. Tomato sauce, brine, oils, and other sauces are best to avoid as they can contain other ingredients (some of which may even be toxic).


Can Dogs Eat Raw Sardines?

No, dogs should not eat raw sardines. As with other fish and seafood such as crab and salmon skin, it’s really important to feed your pooch fresh sardines that have been preserved or cooked.

Raw sardines may contain bacteria that could make your dog very ill. If your dog does eat raw sardines, contact your vet for advice.

Can Dogs Eat Sardines Every Day?

Whilst sardines contain lots of healthy fats, your dog shouldn’t be eating them every day. Dogs need to get most of their nutrients from balanced dog food.

They can, however, have a couple of healthy human treats but these should be varied. Think about adding zucchini, broccoli, or apple to your pup’s diet as well as sardines for good variation and plenty of freshness.

How to Feed Sardines to Dogs

Let’s be honest, sardines are pretty potent so we don’t recommend putting them in puzzle toys or snuffle mats. We really don’t recommend putting them in snuffle mats.

However, there are plenty of other ways you can give this yummy fish to your dog. Many pups will love sardines as a treat during training sessions or as a topper to their regular dog food.

You could also think about making a paste out of sardines and adding it to a lick mat. Many of the best lick mats for dogs are dishwasher safe (which really helps).

Recap: Can Dogs Eat Sardines?

Yes, dogs can eat sardines. In fact, they’re a good source of protein and contain lots of essential minerals and vitamins. The risks come with the sauces, how they’re preserved, and whether they’re raw or not. You should only feed your pooch plain, fresh sardines that have been cooked or preserved.

Never give them raw fish and try to avoid sardines with extra calories (in oil) and always double-check for potentially toxic ingredients and high levels of salt.