When you think of sardines, you might remember your grandparents peeling open a can for lunch. The once popular ready-to-eat meal is making a comeback thanks to the multitude of healthy benefits the little fish provide. Your dog’s coat and overall health benefits from these nutrient rich snacks, too.
Sardines are a healthy source of protein and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which aid in making your furry friend’s skin and coat healthy and shiny. They also boost your dog’s immune system and help reduce inflammation in the body caused by allergies, arthritis and other conditions. Fatty acids also have been shown to improve brain development and help fight cancer.
Where to Find Sardines
Sardines are best given as a supplement to your dog’s regular diet. A few commercial dry and canned dog foods include sardines, but there is some disagreement among pet nutrition experts regarding the ability of fatty acids to withstand the cooking process and long-term storage of dog foods. You can buy canned whole sardines at your local grocery store to give as a supplement. Make sure you buy sardines packed in salt-free spring water, not with oil or added condiments. You may be able to purchase fresh sardines locally to prepare for your dog. Sardine oil also is available from pet supply stores. You can find it either by itself or mixed with other fish oils.
How Much to Feed
For whole sardines, canned or fresh, you can give one fish for small dogs or two for larger dogs each day or one whole tin once a week for small dogs or twice a week for larger dogs. Your dog can eat them as is or mixed with his food. If you have a small dog and are using canned, buy the smallest quantity available so they can be eaten in a few days to preserve the freshness of the essential fatty acids. If using sardine/fish oil, check the manufacturer’s recommendation based on your dog’s size. Most usually recommend one squirt for small dogs and two for larger dogs. It should be mixed with your dog’s food.
Too Much of a Good Thing
You can give too much of a good thing with fatty acids, and you may want to consult your veterinarian before making sardines part of your dog’s diet. Going overboard on omega-3 can actually backfire and increase inflammation, cause digestive upset or prevent blood from clotting.
Besides sardines, pink salmon and mackerel are good sources of fatty acids for skin and coat health as well as overall health. They too are available canned, fresh or as an oil supplement.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jodi L. Hartley has been a writer and public relations professional since 1992. Her experience includes public relations and marketing for a pet service/retail business, as well as volunteer work with animal rescue organizations. Hartley holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and an M.B.A.