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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?

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