My dogs sometimes seem more interested in certain foods over others, but I worry that they don’t always know what is good for them. Just because my dogs are certain they want a taste of my meal, doesn’t mean it couldn’t do them some harm. I don’t want to give them upset stomachs! Sardines are a favorite snack of mine, and my dogs always seem interested in grabbing a bite, so can I offer them a bite? Will it do them any harm?
Is it Okay for My Dog to Eat Sardines?
The short answer is yes. Yes, it is completely fine for your dog to eat sardines. Not only might your dog really love the taste, but they can make a nutritious treat. Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can prevent cancer, improve the immune system, and support brain development, and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which can promote a strong and healthy heart and circulation. The notable benefits of eating sardines includes:
- Giving your dog a healthier and shinier coat
- Boosting your dog’s immune system
- Reducing inflammation for dogs with joint issues
- Encouraging your puppy’s healthy brain development
- Keeping your dog’s heart strong and healthy
As well as this, sardines are a particularly good fishy treat because of their small size. Fish-rich diets are often a bad idea for any animal, including humans, because of the amount of mercury found in fish. However, while bigger fish like tuna often have high concentrations of mercury, sardines have relatively less mercury. This doesn’t mean you can let your dog binge on sardines, but it is a healthier option than some other fish.
Could Your Dog be Allergic to Sardines?
It is possible for dogs to have an allergy to many types of fish, and this means you could have a dog allergic to sardines. Just like any new food, this means you should introduce sardines carefully and slowly into your dog’s diet, and look out for any allergic reactions. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Chronic gas
- Licking or biting their paws
- Itchy rear
- Bald patches
- Face rubbing
- Stunted growth
- Head shaking
If you suspect your dog is allergic to sardines, take them to the vet to get a formal diagnosis. They might offer you a intradermal skin test or, less commonly, a bicom test. Bicom tests are controversial as most scientists consider them alternative medicine as there is little scientific evidence to support its foundation that every substance in the world, including your dog’s blood, emits an electromagnetic wave that will react negatively to an allergen. However, intradermal skin tests are also not necessarily wholly accurate.
The best thing that you can do is stop giving your dog any food that may be causing a nasty side effect. If symptom then goes away, assume that your dog is allergic to that food and don’t allow them to eat it in future, even if a test done by your vet suggests it isn’t an allergy. It might seem obvious, but it is the only fool-proof way to keep your dog allergy free.
How Much Sardines Can I Give My Puppy?
Sardines may seem small, but they pack a huge punch in terms of nutrition and calorie content. There is only so much fatty acids and CoQ10 an animal can take before it could do some damage. This makes them a serious treat for your pet, rather than something they should be feasting on regularly. The nutritional information of a single sardine includes:
- 25 calories
- 175mg of omega-3 fatty acids
This is a lot for a small dog to handle, so you should consider cutting up the sardine to make the treat a more appropriate size. Not only is this healthier, but it means you can spread the treat out for longer. Small dogs should never have more than half a sardine, but larger dogs can have a bit more.
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A big dog could have a whole tin of sardines as a meal. If your dog is around 40 pounds, you can give them a tin, provided it is less than 200 calories. But it is better to be safe than sorry so offer your dog a small amount at first so they can grow accustomed to it. Feeding your dog too many sardines may make them smell like fish, which can be pretty unpleasant to live with.
A nice idea is to use the water in a sardine tin to flavor their tinned food if your dog seems to particularly love sardines. You can also use it to make medication easier to swallow. This can give them the yummy taste, without overfeeding them on actual sardines. Be aware that sardine water has absorbed some of the minerals, so doing this for every meal might still result in providing your dog with too much salt, or another otherwise healthy nutrient. A balanced diet is always best.
Is it Ok to Feed My Dog Sardines Everyday?
No. You should only consider sardines as a treat. If your dog eats them every day, they are likely to suffer from a build up of minerals, such as salt, that can cause crystals to form. Crystal build up is a common cause of kidney and bladder stones. You can probably get away with giving your dog sardines up to twice a week. Any more than that could result in an imbalance of nutrients that will have a negative health impact.
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Another incredibly important thing to remember when giving your dog a taste of the sardines in your meal is that they are plain. Any sauces, including seemingly basic sauces like ketchup and even oil, might be bad for your dog. Make sure your sardines are plain and in spring water. The lower the sodium in the ingredients list, the better.