Can Dogs Eat Sardines? Everything You Need to Know

Yes, dogs can eat sardines in moderation. Compared to other fishes, sardines are low in mercury. It has omega – 3 fatty acids, and is a high source of protein. The presence of omega – 3 fatty acids helps in preventing inflammation in dogs. Sardines also contain coenzyme Q10, which aids in neural development and dental health.

What Are Sardines?

European Pilchards is another name for sardines. They are small in size and are of oily texture. They belong to the herring family. The term sardine comes from Sardinia of the Mediterranean island.  

Are Sardines Safe for Dogs?

Yes, sardines are safe for dogs to consume in small quantities. However, if your dog has some underlying conditions such as obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, or pancreatitis, it would be better if not offered to your dog. If your dog is intolerant to mercury, even then, it is recommended not to offer sardines to your dog. The bones are also a matter of concern. The bones in fish are sharp, which can result in throat injuries or stomach and intestinal injuries. Also, avoid canned sardines as they may contain salt, spices, oil, artificial flavors, and preservatives that are added to increase the shelf life.  

However, you can prefer fresh or frozen deboned sardine fillets and tinned or jarred sardines packed in water for your pet. Cooked sardines are an even healthier option. Plain, unseasoned, and unpickled sardines are completely safe for your dogs.

Why Are Sardines Good for Dogs?

Sardines are highly nutritious for dogs. Let us look at the benefits which sardines provide to a dog.

Omega – 3 fatty acid: This keeps the skin and coat of the dog healthy. It prevents inflammation, itchiness, and other skin allergies in dogs. DHA is one of the omega – 3 fatty acids, which aids in the retinal health and cognition of the dog. DHA reduces the aging signs in dogs. The puppies and adult pets are primarily in need of DHA. It also helps in preventing cancer.

Calcium and Phosphorus: Sardines contain both calcium and phosphorus. It prevents inflammation in the bone joints of the dog, reducing the pain. It also helps in keeping the overall skeleton structure proper and healthy. 

Coenzyme Q10: Also known as ubiquinol, it aids in the dog’s heart health. Coenzyme 10 is an antioxidant present in the cells of the dog’s body. Consuming sardines can boost the antioxidants to keep the heart healthy. The benefits of coenzyme Q10 are:

  • Boosts immune system
  • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Aids in brain development
  • Dental health
  • Improves the skin and coat
  • Aids in heart and kidney health
  • Tissue development

Protein: Proteins present in sardines are the amino acids that aid in the digestive system and the organ function of the dog’s body. 

Why Are Sardines Bad for Dogs?

Though Sardines are good for dogs to eat, one must consider the downsides of consuming them.  Therefore, let us look at the downsides of feeding sardines to dogs:

Fat: Sardines have excessive fat in them. Sardines, though do not contain too much of saturated fat, the other kinds of fat present in sardines can cause:

  • Obesity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatitis

Strontium contamination: Strontium was released at the Fukushima disaster site with radioactive isotope Sr 90. The central swapping station of sardines in Japan, unfortunately, is near the disaster site. This strontium contaminates the fish’s body and gets deposited in the bone. Hence, if your dog consumes sardines, he will be feeding on the harmful strontium. The consequences of strontium contamination in dogs are:

  • Herpesvirus – 1 
  • Recrudescent disease
  • Viral reactivation
  • Canine ocular surface disease

How Much Sardines to Feed Your Dog?

A single small sardine can have 25 calories. Half of which is fat, and the rest is protein. Let us check the feeding guideline of sardines to dogs:

Weight of the DogNumber of Sardines
< 5 lbs.2
6 – 15 lbs.4
16 – 25 lbs.5
26 – 50 lbs. 8
50 + lbs. 14

If you are feeding sardines to your dog for the first time, it will be best to consult the veterinarian about it. Also, start with a very minimal number of sardines. 

What If My Dog Ate Sardines?

Suppose your dog accidentally consumed sardines in a significant amount. In that case, you will have to wait for the symptoms to show, which includes:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • GI issues

How to Serve Sardines to Your Dog?

Serving sardines to your dog is interesting. Here are few tips on how to serve sardines to your dog:

  • Remove the bones from fresh sardines.
  • Cut them into small pieces. 
  • Garnish the sardine with the water present in the can. 
  • Add sardines to the dog food. Remember to maintain the number of sardines according to the weight of the dog. 
  • Sardines in homemade dog treat recipes are excellent high-value treats in your pet’s training sessions and while rewarding. Also, they are a good option as treats for diabetic dogs.
  • Sardine oil is a good source of omega -3 fatty acids.

Alternatives to Sardines

You can also feed the following foods to your dog in place of sardines:

  • Anchovy
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Smelts
  • Herring

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dogs Eat Sardines with Sauce?

No, dogs cannot eat sardines with sauce due to onion and garlic powder, salt, and preservatives in the sauce. These ingredients are harmful and toxic to your dog. 

Can Dogs Eat Dried Sardines?

Dried Sardines do not have nutritional benefits. Hence, it is best to avoid feeding dried sardines to your dog. 

Can Dogs Eat Sardines with Oil?

Sardines with oil are not advised for dogs as the intake of sardine and oil might lead to weight gain, obesity, lethargy. 

Can Puppies Eat Sardines?

No, puppies cannot eat sardines. This is because the stomach of a puppy is more vulnerable than an adult dog’s stomach. In addition, digestive issues are common in puppies. Hence, keep away sardines from your dog. 


Sardines are healthy for dogs to eat in moderation. It helps prevent cancer, aids in heart and kidney health, improves the immune system, and much more. However, there are also downsides of sardines, resulting in Herpesvirus – 1, Recrudescent disease, Viral reactivation Canine ocular surface disease. Hence, it is always essential to keep your dog under supervision to avoid unavoidable circumstances.

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