Dogs should not be fed sardines every day, even though sardines are very healthy for them. The sodium content in a dog’s diet would be way too high if they ate sardines every day. A high sodium diet could lead to severe kidney and liver damage.
If you love to feed your dog sardines as a treat, you may be wondering if this protein-rich food can serve as their primary source of nutrition. While sardines make a great snack that most dogs love, we should only give them in moderation, as too much fish can cause health issues down the road.
Before feeding your dog sardines, you need to know how much to feed them, how often, and how to adjust their regular food.
Why Sardines Are Great for Dogs
Sardines are an excellent choice for your dog’s diet, as they offer a wide range of nutritional benefits. They are high in protein and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which support good health, improve skin and coat conditions, and promote muscle growth and bone development.
Because of their low caloric value (just 25 calories per sardine), sardines are a great choice for dogs that need to watch their weight.
Benefits of sardines for dogs include:
- Great for puppies and senior dogs (good for their brain)
- Helps with arthritis in dogs due to them promoting natural anti-inflammatory responses in the body
- Helps dogs with allergies
- Improved dog skin and coat
- Promotes strong teeth and gums
Note: If you’re going to feed your dog canned sardines, only feed them those in water with no salt added.
Additionally, sardines cost around $1/can, so when you think about feeding your dog a nutritional snack that they’ll love, it’s pretty cheap!
Why Are Sardines So Healthy?
Sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential components that:
- Promote brain function
- Encourage a healthy heart
- Improves skin and fur
- Helps relieve joint pain and allergies
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help improve your pup’s immune system and help them fight cancer. These fatty acids also help balance out the omega-6 fatty acids that are probably found in your pup’s processed dog food.
Besides omega-3 fatty acids, sardines are a significant source of calcium and Vitamin D, which both support your dog’s bone health.
Minerals and vitamins found in sardines include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Possible Drawbacks of Sardines
Although there are many benefits to feeding your dog sardines, there are also some drawbacks. One concern is that canned fish contains high levels of salt. While most dogs have no problem with high salt levels, you should be careful if your dog has any pre-existing medical conditions or needs a special diet because of health issues. When buying sardines for your dog, buy the ones that are canned in water and without salt.
Also, canned fish can contain bones, so be careful when dishing out portions so you don’t give your pup too much.
Finally, remember what works for one breed may not work for another; different breeds have different nutritional requirements.
If you’re worried about mercury poisoning, which can happen when you overeat fish, as long as you’re limiting the amount of sardines you’re feeding your dog, you should be fine.
To be safe, always consult your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet or introducing new foods, such as sardines.
How Many Sardines Should I Feed My Dog?
So we’ve established that it’s OK to feed your dog sardines, but how much is OK? This will depend on the breed and size of your dog. Although sardines are very healthy for your dog, you still want to ensure they’re not getting too many calories.
Anything beyond one can per day is just overdoing it. Sure, they’re high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are all things you want for your dog.
They’re also great for skin and coat health, along with overall vitality. But feeding them more than one serving will likely cause them more harm than good, so take things slow and ask yourself, is there a reason my dog needs two servings of sardines today?
If not, you shouldn’t. That being said, most people would benefit from feeding their dogs one to two cans per week as an added boost of good nutrition (or simply out of love).
Follow these general guidelines when feeding your dog sardines:
- Small dogs: 1 small canned sardine per week
- Large dogs: 1 large canned sardine (or two small ones) per week
You risk harming your dog if you feed them too many sardines, so it’s important to only give sardines to them in moderation.
What Happens If You Feed Your Dog Too Many Sardines?
Feeding your dog sardines has many health benefits, but feeding them too much can wreak havoc on their health.
Too Much Vitamin D: Bad for Dogs with Bone Issues
Sardines are high in vitamin D, which is important for all dogs. Vitamin D deficiencies can cause rickets, resulting in weak or soft bones that could eventually break under pressure. If your dog suffers from bone problems, feeding him too many sardines can exacerbate existing issues.
Too Many Omega-3s
The same goes for any fatty fish like sardines. While they may be good for you, they’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, too much omega-3s can contribute to inflammation and liver damage, both of which your pup doesn’t need!
However, if your dog’s diet is well balanced and does not include many other types of fish or oils rich in omega-3s or 6s, then a bit of seafood won’t hurt him either.
Too Many Calories
Feeding your dog too many sardines on top of their regular food can lead to an overweight pup! It’s essential to pay attention to the number of calories your dog is consuming so they don’t become overweight and have additional health issues because of it.
Liver and Kidney Damage
If you’re feeding your dog sardines that are brined in saltwater, your dog may end up with severe kidney and liver damage. Dogs shouldn’t consume that much sodium, so it’s important only to feed them fresh sardines or those canned without salt.
Most dogs love sardines—it’s a tasty snack that they get as a treat. If you feed your dog sardines every day and even multiple times a day, they may end up disliking their regular food and hold out for their sardines.
Feeding them too many sardines can cause feeding issues later on, so your dog must know that they’re just an occasional treat.
Remember, sardines are not a meal replacement for your pup.
Alternatives to Sardines
Sardines are indeed packed with vitamins, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids that are great for your dog’s health. However, most dogs have a harder time digesting sardines than most other seafood because of their soft bones.
If you choose not to give your dog sardines, there are plenty of alternatives for your canine companion.
Another great way to get omega-3s into your dog is by adding coconut oil to their food.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which has antibacterial and antiviral properties that help fight off infections in your dog’s digestive tract.
Coconut oil also helps manage allergies, boost immune systems, and control diabetes within your dog’s body.
Note that coconut oil needs to be given to your dog in moderation.
Salmon and tuna also offer a high amount of lean protein. Plus, both types of fish don’t contain as many bones as sardines do. These also make great treats for your dog.
If you just want your dog to get the health benefits but aren’t too worried about feeding them actual fish pieces, you can buy fish oil to mix into your dog’s regular meals.
Always talk to your vet first to make sure whatever you’re planning on feeding your pup won’t harm them. If you’re unsure if sardines are a good option, your vet can walk you through alternatives for your dog’s needs.
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