Shop at for 100% Natural, Raw Pet Food

With Sardines Our Dogs Get More than Fishy Breath

Adding Sardines to a Dog's Kibble Diet


I’m always looking for fun ways to make feeding time more enjoyable for our dogs.  Can you say “spoiled?”  Yes, I know, but they’re so adorable and if giving them a healthy treat along with their daily kibble creates three happy dogs, then I’m all for it.

Recently, I started feeding our dogs fish oil.  I purchase the capsules, cut them open, and drizzle one capsule over each dog’s food (three capsules, three dogs).  When I was doing my research on the benefits of fish oil, I came across dog owners who give their dogs olive oil and coconut oil.  I also learned that dogs can get some of the benefits they receive from fish oil from sardines.

Dogs and Sardines and Olive Oil?

On a trip to Costco, I saw a package of canned sardines in olive oil and decided to give them a try…

  • Sardines are high in omega-3 oils, which are great for our dogs’ skin and coat
  • Sardines are great for brain functioning, making them ideal for puppies and senior dogs
  • Sardines are great for arthritis; the oils loosens stiff joints
  • Sardines are great for the immune system
  • Sardines are lower that other fish in heavy metal contamination  due to their size
  • Sardines can be high in sodium

How many sardines should we give our dogs?

I read that 1 tin of sardines a couple times a week is great for a small dog, larger dogs can eat more.  Since we’re serving our dogs sardines as a treat, they split 1 tin a few times a week (3-4 sardines in a tin).

Update:  we switched our dogs to a raw food diet in Spring 2013.  Due to the calories in olive oil, we limit the amount of oil our dogs get, preferring Omega 3 oils that are for dogs (salmon, pollock or camellia).  Our dogs share a tin of canned sardines 1-2x a week.

Won’t my dog smell like sardines?

Our dogs do have fishy breath immediately after eating sardines, but it goes away quickly.  Of course, this is our experience.  To be honest, I have fishy breath too, because I love sardines.  My boyfriend stays away from all of us for about 30 minutes.

So, buy the sardines in olive oil?

I’m going to say “it depends.”  The sardines I picked up at Costco (Wild Planet) are packed in olive oil.  The brand that I picked up at the grocery store (Brunswick) had less olive oil.  If you do go this route – watch that you’re not picking up sardines in soybean oil.  In my research, I found some who say dogs can’t digest soybeans (it’s a common allergen) and others who say it’s great for their skin and coat.  I chose to stay away from that oil since there are others that are beneficial to our dogs in small amounts.

If you’re not certain about sardines in olive oil, purchase the ones in water, not oils or other flavors (including lemon).  In each article recommending olive oil for our dogs, the writer recommends drizzling the oil on their food.  So, to be on the safe side, I give them the sardines (we did buy a case of them) and only add a drizzle of the oil to their food.

I mix the sardines and the oil drizzle to their kibble 2 times a week.  What I like about this option is that it saves us a lot of money.  We were feeding them canned food as  treat, the sardines are just as yummy and healthier.  I think I’ll try tuna next.

If you have dogs and sardines, then this recipe by Kim Clune is for you…

What do you mix with your dog’s kibble to give them a little treat?


  1. Hi Kim,
    I did not know that sardine has many nutrition in it.
    Do you think i should feed my dog with some sardines?
    Please let me know.
    You know, that’s why i don’t feed sardine to my dog. He will soon smell like sardines.

    • Ha ha, Andre

      We feed our dogs sardines 1x a week for a treat, mixed in with their kibble. I don’t feed it to them regularly, because it does make their breath fishy. They love them and they’re good for them so I think a weekly treat is okay. It’s been great for our dogs.


      • maybe i should do that too…

  2. I’m sure my dog would just love those. She loves all kinds of stinky treats. Great idea!

    • It’s been fun researching food and trying new things with our dogs. With the sardines, we learned that the ones in water are best (we also tried the ones in olive oil, but it’s too hard to limit the amount of olive oil, although it’s supposed to be good for them too). We give them the sardines as a treat once a week. They each get one fish mixed into their kibble.

      They love it!

  3. I’ve been giving my dogs sardines for, gosh, well over a year now – maybe 2. They love them. I give them all varieties – in soybean oil, in water, lightly smoked, in mustard, in tomato sauce… I usually get them at Grocery Outlet – they’re .79/can, or well, I think they’ve gone up to maybe .89/can now. I add some to their breakfast every day. My little one (8 lb chi/poodle mix) went to see the vet not long ago and said his teeth looked absolutely wonderful for not having had them cleaned (she said small dogs typically need their teeth cleaned fairly frequently) and said to keep doing what I’m doing. Perhaps that’s got something to do with the sardines – but not sure.

    • I didn’t know we could give them the other flavors. Rodrigo has a super sensitive stomach so we go bland for him. It would be cool if Sardines had teeth cleaning properties. Our dogs have great teeth and I think it’s because of the food we feed them, the treats they get, and because they’re gorgeous.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Aren’t you worried about to much salt with the sardines? My little one loves sardines also but she has hypertension and I worry about her getting to much salt. She does eat raw primal turkey and sardine.

      • I did at first, but now I don’t any longer, because our dogs only get canned sardines 1x a week (1 sardine each) AND I scored 50# of fresh sardines, which they’re going to start getting instead of the canned ones :)

        I buy canned salmon and mackerel when it goes on sale and I split one can between all 4 dogs and this is also one of those things that they get 1x a week (if that).

        I know other people who feed their dogs canned fish more often, but since I don’t know how the salt will impact them (especially Sydney who gains easily) in bigger doses, I just don’t want to take the chance. You know?

        • I guess everything in moderation is ok. My little one 13 years old and a daschsund. She is over weight so I have to watch everything she eats. I thought she would lose weight eating raw but it’s 2 years now and she is still over weight.

          • I have the same issue with Sydney and it is so frustrating. She’s not very active, but loves to go for walks. Our other 3 dogs play on our property, Sydney just sits and watches or walks around sniffing things. So I take her on solo walks and she’s still over weight. It’s coming off slowly. I got her down to a good weight last year, but then she had a cruciate tear and gained some of it back.

            How often are you walking your dog? I’ve reduced Sydney’s meals to 1/2 of what they used to be and then added veggies/fruits (The Honest Kitchen, or fresh) so that she feels full. I also give her fewer treats than the other dogs. I buy fewer cookie type treats and more things like duck feet and dehydrated smelt. She also gets raw fruits and veggies as a treat too.

            • My little hates to walk at all. We live in Fl for one thing and it’s so hot and being she has a heart murmor she can’t really walk to much without getting so out of breath, that’s why she can’t lose weight. Also she suffers from severe sinus problems this year. I really have my hands full trying to keep her as healthy as possible.

  4. Interesting:) I’ve heard a lot of people give sardines to their dogs. I’m so not a fish person, but the dogs get salmon and cod liver caps everyday. The smell bums me right out. I don’t know if I could do the sardines, I’m not sure if I can handle that much fish!. Maybe one day I’ll try it:)

    • I sprayed fish oil on my favorite sweatshirt when opening a capsule and I haven’t been able to wash it out. Even using bleach. Sucks!

  5. Jasmine’s food, while not pretty looking, is yummy enough (home cooked). Sometimes, to make it more special, I put whole chunks of meat on it (as hers is normally blended), particularly when we’re having steak, roast etc.

    When JD gets his freeze-dried raw, I don’t add anything to it (and he thinks that’s yummy as it is. When he gets some kibble, I add a bit of Jasmine’s food on top. He thinks that’s awesome.

    And then they both get desert, of course. Can’t have dinner without a desert.

    • Jana – I’m really considering cooking for our dogs. I know that it’ll be better, but I worry about them receiving all of their nutrients. I have my first cookbook and I’m going to order a second. Do you save money by cooking?

      • Well, there are a number ways to make sure all nutrients are there in right proportion. Dr. Becker’s book is good. Still waiting to get the Dog Food Dude’s book. You can also work with Or you can work a nutritionist to get a custom-tailored recipes.

        Do I save money by cooking? Depends on what you’re comparing it with and where and how you get your ingredients. When we get meat from a farmer, then it’s relatively cheap. It’s also good because it’s organic and includes all kinds of organ meats.

        Overall, no, I wouldn’t say I save money. But it’s working for Jasmine and that’s the important thing.

  6. My dogs are huge fans of vegetables…but maybe that is because I have never given them fish. I will try adding sardines to their kibble this weekend. Thanks for the tip!

    • Our dogs LOVE carrots. We now buy them in bulk from Costco and they understand “do you want a carrot?”

    • Sardines are great, Mimi & Casper love them. I buy the ones with spring water but the ones with olive is great too. So healthy. Sardines have just enough vitamin D plus loads of omega 3 fatty acids and calcium.

      Carrots or great too as a snack. Another thing I found for people that buy commercial kibbles is to puree fresh vegetables and spoon them over the kibbles. Your dogs will thank you for it. You can puree in bulk and freeze in individual packages.

      • What’s so funny is that I haven’t brought home sardines in a while. I need to pick them up this weekend. Our dogs love them! And thanks for your tip on the puree, we’ll do that too.

  7. Many of Dr. Strombeck’s diets use sardines as an important ingredient “The diets for dogs that do not contain sardines lack vitamin B12, even when a vitamin-mineral supplement is added. Sardines are added to provide vitamin B12.” He uses sardines in tomato sauce. They are less expensive, and delicious to my dogs.

    For those using sardines in various oils, Steve Brown does some excellent work in pet food formulation and nutrition science. His Unlocking the Secrets of the Ancestral Diet is a terrific book on how to balance the mufa, pufa oils in the dog’s diet–as well as how to feed a balanced diet. Accordingly, too many competing oils are problematic, and most diets require some vitamin e to balance the oils out. As nutritional components are expressed in g/kcal, too many fats create an imbalance.

    I use Brown, Pitcairn and Strombeck as resources to feeding my dogs.

    • Great information, Leisa – I’ve never thought of using sardines in tomato sauce. The only ones I find at our store are the ones in mustard or olive oil so I planned to order a case of sardines in water online. Thanks for the information.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>