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Yes, dogs can safely eat sardines in moderation. This mini fish has several health benefits for dogs and is a good addition to their diet on occasion. However, since sardines are already oily, avoiding canned sardines in oil or those with added seasonings is typically best.

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Safe: This food is generally considered safe by the veterinary community. Dogs can eat this food sometimes or in small amounts but contains little to no nutritional value.

Food Safety Beneficial when fed in moderation
Nutritional Value Protein, omega-3 fatty acids
Potential Risks Weight gain, pancreatitis, and other gastrointestinal issues. Canned salty sardines can cause sodium toxicosis.
Every dog is different. For specific feeding guidelines, including quantities and beneficial foods that are best for your dog, please consult your vet.

How Much Sardines Are Safe for Dogs?

For a small dog 1 sardine per day is fine, while larger dogs can have 2-3.  It’s generally a good idea to avoid feed this salty fish every single day for a long period. It’s very important sardines are fed in moderation because overfeeding can lead to gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis or potential salt toxicity.

Are Certain Types of Sardines Better?

Yes, the best type to feed your dog is fresh sardines since they are not processed and give your dog all the health benefits without any potential risks. But naturally, these may not be easy to come by – nor are they convenient for dog owners to have in stock regularly.

For canned sardines, you should immediately rule out any packed in brine or sauce. Most commonly found in stores are water or oil packed cans (usually olive oil). Sardines packed in water will have less flavor, but lower calories and fat. If your dog enjoys these, thats the way to go!

TIP: Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential polyunsaturated fat that cannot be produced by the dog’s body – so it has to be obtained through their diet. Just like for humans, they help maintain healthy skin, reduce inflammation, a and have been known to reduce risks of serious health conditions like heart disease and cancer.

How to Feed Sardines to Dogs?

If you are feeding canned sardines, you can remove a bit of the sodium or oil contents by rinsing under water. You can then feed sardines as a treat or meal topper. Be sure to cut the sardines to the appropriate bite size if you have a medium or small dog.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • In most canned sardines, European sardines from the Mediterranean sea, the bones are super soft. You should not need to remove bones before feeding to your dog.

  • Yes, dogs can eat raw sardines. However, you should ensure the sardines are properly cleaned and free of any contaminants.

  • Mercury poisoning is a real risk in most fishes but luckily most sardines have negligible mercury content.

About the Writer
Dan Greco , Dog Dad

Having been a dog dad for 5 years, I know how hard it is to make sure your dog gets the right nutrients and stays away from hazardous foods. With the help of a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition, I created this blog to help dog owners quickly access food information they need.

photo of vet holding a pup
About the Contributor
Dr. Hillary Wolfe , Veterinarian & Certified Food Therapist

Dr. Wolfe holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Kansas State University and holds nutrition certifications from the NAVC and CIVT. Her business, Tula Veterinary Nutrition, hosts online courses that teach owners how to cook for their pet for optimal health and longevity. Follow her on Instagram at @doctorwolfe.dvm for dog nutrition tips, recipes and insights.