All types of meats are usually suitable for dogs, with a bit of moderation. Dogs require a diversified diet, so a few vegetables for extra vitamins and minerals are not to be overlooked either. Then, there are human foods that you can share with your furry friend – again, moderation is key. Now, you probably ask yourself – how about fish? Can dogs eat sardines? Are sardines for dogs a good idea or will they cause your pet trouble?
The truth is sardines can actually be healthy for pets. In fact, many vets agree they should become regular treats. There are lots of benefits associated with them. Just like you have probably guessed already, there are a few risks as well, not to mention some rules when feeding your dog sardines. Overall, a little attention to small details will get your furry friend sorted. So, what should you know about sardines before feeding your dog?
Nutritional benefits of sardines
Sardines are packed with nutrients. They benefit people, but they also benefit dogs. Most importantly, they are extremely rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are not that common in other foods for dogs. At the same time, they have plenty of minerals. Your pet can never get enough minerals, so a bit of supplementation will work wonders. For instance, your pet can get magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and iron from sardines.
Just like all the other types of fish, sardines are rich in protein too, not to mention coenzyme Q10 and taurine – an important amino acid. Other than that, your dog will benefit from vitamins B3, B6, B12 and D. Plus, there are a few trace minerals in their composition. You can count on copper, selenium, iodine, manganese and zinc. Based on all these, sardines seem to be part of the superfood category, but how can your dog actually take advantage of them?
Great for the coat and skin
While most dog owners focus on their dogs’ overall health (and mostly the internal organs), the truth is the outside is just as important. Brushing your dog every now and then is not everything. Instead, a bit of supplementation will also help the skin and coat health. At this point, sardines are extremely beneficial for your furry friend.
You may already know it. Just like people, dog benefits from Omega 3 fatty acids in the exact same way. These acids help both the coat and the skin. They can prevent and reduce inflammation, but they will also help your dog get rid of hot spots and itchiness. Even if your dog suffers from particular allergies, all these issues will be annihilated by Omega3.
Great for mobility
Mobility could be an issue at times. In fact, most dogs get to experience such problems as they get older. Most of them affect the hip and the nearby joints. Older dogs and large breeds are usually affected. Apart from the limited movement, such things also cause persistent pain. While treatment will be much better, sardines will inevitably give a hand in the process.
Sardine for dogs can clear inflammation. They will also reduce the pain associated with it. Since they also provide decent amounts of phosphorus and calcium, they will provide support for your pet’s skeletal system. Even if your dog does not suffer from such problems yet, sardines will help prevent them in the long run.
Great for the retinal and cognitive functions
Omega 3 fatty acids help from multiple directions. There are more of them available in sardines. One of them is known as the DHA. This acid is excellent to support the eye health, as well as the cognitive function. Unfortunately, dogs will find it difficult to get this fatty acid from other foods (with a few exceptions), hence the necessity of some sardines.
DHA is essential in your furry friend. It is mostly recommended to older dogs and puppies, but dogs of all ages can benefit from it. Providing DHA to your dog – through sardines or as a supplement – will reduce the incidence of aging signs, but it will also support the natural growth and minimize problems associated with aging.
Great for the heart
When you think about coenzyme Q10, you think about those ads promoting facial creams for people. However, this coenzyme is just as helpful for dogs. Sure, it will not work like a face cream, but it will bring in a plethora of health benefits. Coenzyme Q10 is often referred to as ubiquinol as well. From a scientific point of view, it is an antioxidant.
Antioxidants have more effects over a dog’s body. They reduce the issues associated with aging, but they also improve the appearance and boost the immune system. The ubiquinol is present in your dog’s body, but boosting its levels will be even better. It is essential for the overall heart function. Its necessity is even more obvious in dogs with a current congenital issue.
Great for the overall health
Based on all the nutrients available in sardines for dogs, you do not have to be a genius to realize that a proper nutrition will skyrocket your dog’s health. Sardines bring in complete protein. What does complete protein mean? Easy – everything your dog needs. Practically, sardines have all the essential amino acids that your pet will require for a healthy lifestyle.
Give your dog sardines and you will no longer have to split the protein intake over more sources. One of them is enough. Other vitamins and minerals will also help your pet. Literally every system and function will benefit from sardines. All organs will be affected in a positive manner, not to mention a top notch digestive system.
Other health benefits of sardines for dogs
Protein is one of the critical elements for your dog’s development. Protein will help your dog maintain great energy and lots of strength. While most pets survive with no issues at all on other meats, they grow much better when the protein they get is lean and healthy. Sardines are rich in lean protein, which is better than pretty much any other alternative.
Other than that, you probably imagine sardines require moderation because they are fat. After all, just like people, dogs should avoid saturated fats. They bring in extra weight, as well as a series of problems associated with it. Saturated fats bring in lots of cholesterol in the blood too. Luckily, sardines are very low in such fats, so they are great.
Last, but not least, no matter how much you love your dog, you can only buy what you can afford. Buying beef, pork or chicken for your dog on a daily basis could add up. Such things are expensive, not to mention having to buy other stuff for lean protein too. This will never be an issue with sardines, as they are inexpensive and bring in excellent value for money.
Dangers associated with sardines for dogs
There is a common myth regarding most types of fish. Fish and fish oils are always under attack due to various concerns and ideas about mercury. So, is mercury toxicity an issue if your feed sardines to your dog?
The truth is everything that lives in an ocean or feeds on something from an ocean will have mercury in the body. Mercury is out there and everything related to oceans will have some. From the tiniest organism to the most aggressive predator in an ocean, mercury will inevitably accumulate.
But here comes the good news! Sardines are small. The larger the organism, the higher the amounts of mercury. Large fish like salmon or shark will inevitably have way more mercury than small fish like sardines.
It does not mean that there are no risks at all. With time, the mercury will accumulate in your pet’s body. Therefore, sardines should not be given on a daily basis. They are, indeed, extremely healthy, but you must keep an eye on the fish and oils you give your dog.
With these aspects in mind, sardines for dogs must be given as a supplement. They make excellent treats and they should be handed in small servings. After all, your dog needs a bit of time to get rid of the mercury through waste and urine.
How many sardines to feed your dog
Sardines are extremely dense. They are rich in nutrients, but they also have loads of calories. As small as they are, a tiny sardine can bring in about 25 calories. These calories come from both protein and fat, in equal proportions.
Feeding your dog plenty of sardines on a regular basis can lead to obesity. Instead, stick to small servings. Sardines are rich. If you are strict about your dog’s diet, make sure you double check the calories you add in too. Apart from weight gain, sardines can also cause digestive issues.
The serving size is not proper science. There are different breeds, sizes, ages and potential conditions. Dogs are different and require different things, so you need to figure the dosage out yourself. There are, however, a few guidelines:
- Dogs under five pounds in weight – Two sardines per serving
- Dogs under 15 pounds in weight – Four sardines per serving
- Dogs under 25 pounds in weight – Five sardines per serving
- Dogs under 50 pounds in weight – Eight sardines per serving
- Dogs over 50 pounds in weight – 14 sardines per serving
How to add sardines to your dog’s diet
Never start with the recommended serving size. Instead, start with small amounts to ensure your dog is safe. Not sure whether your dog should get fresh or canned sardines? Fresh foods obviously provide more nutrients and less chemicals, but they are not always easy to find. Instead, cans might represent the more common option out there.
Canned sardines are rich in nutrients too, but it is important to know that not everything is suitable for your dog. Double check the label and ensure your dog does not get any spices, artificial flavors or salt. At the same time, sardines should not be packed in oil. You might need to do a bit of research, but it is totally worth it.
Plant based oils are more common in sardines. They are nutritious overall. However, heavy amounts will bring in too many Omega 6 fatty acids. Healthy in small amounts, these acids can cause inflammation if your dog has too many of them.
Keep sardines for dogs as natural as possible. They should be canned in water. If you do find fresh sardines, they are larger than the canned alternative, so you need to reduce the serving size. They also have large backbones that must be removed or your dog could choke.
Sardines can be fed both raw and cooked. If you cook them, try steaming them. This procedure will retain as many nutrients as possible. Other than that, you can give them as a side meal or you can mix them into your dog’s food.
Frequently asked questions
It is perfectly normal to have a few questions regarding sardines for dogs.
Can dogs eat sardines daily?
Sardines for dogs are not recommended on a daily basis. While they are rich in nutrients, they can also cause stomach issues or even mercury toxicity. Therefore, a few servings per week are more than enough.
Are canned sardines healthy for dogs?
When fed in the right amount and on a regular basis, sardines can be extremely healthy. In fact, they are better than most meats due to the high amounts of lean protein. They also have vitamins, minerals and Omega3.
Will sardines help my dog’s coat?
The Omega3 in sardines for dogs are responsible for skin and coat maintenance. Therefore, sardines can and will help your dog’s coat.
Bottom line, sardines for dogs represent a great upgrade to your dog’s diet. Not only are they extremely healthy, but your dog will also see these treats as a delicacy. Stick to a few simple rules and potential risks will never affect your dog.