Can dogs eat Sardines?

Updated 29 May 2024
Read time: 8 mins
article author
Written by Corinne Homer
article author
Reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon
Team Vet

Yes, dogs can eat sardines! Sardines are super healthy for dogs, and it’s a good thing too - as dogs love the taste!

As always, it’s important that sardines are prepared and served to dogs in the correct way in order for them to be a safe snack.

Let’s go into more detail about the best way to serve this nutritious, delicious fish to your dog.

Are sardines good for dogs?

Yes, sardines are a nutrient-dense oily fish that have lots of health benefits for a pooch. Fresh sardines are the most nutritious, and it’s important to choose the right kinds of sardines to give your dog so they get the full benefit. Tinned sardines are slightly different; we’ll go into that later in the article. 

What are the health benefits?

Sardines are full of benefits for a dog’s health: 

Rich in omega-3 - a powerful fatty acid essential for cardiovascular health, joint health, brain function and promoting a healthy coat and skin.

Great source of protein, important for energy, muscle maintenance and growth. 

Anti-inflammatory properties, key to supporting health conditions in dogs such as arthritis, a sensitive stomach and sensitive skin.

Vitamin D, excellent for bone health, strong teeth and boosted immunity.

Minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, integral for strong bones and teeth.

Can puppies eat sardines?

Just like adult dogs, puppies can eat sardines so long as they’re prepared safely. Be sure to serve only fresh, cooked sardines with their bones removed, and without added salt, seasonings or sauces. Chop the sardines into small pieces that tiny puppy mouths can chew. 

When are sardines unsafe for dogs?

  • Sardines are unsafe when they’re served incorrectly for a dog to eat. Any sardines that are soaked in sauces, brine or oils should be avoided, as this can cause too much turbulence in a dog’s gut and become a stomach upset. 
  • Sardines are unsafe for dogs with pancreatitis, as they have high levels of healthy fats. This would be problematic for a dog with pancreatitis to process, and they would likely get ill.
  • Fresh sardines that have tough, large bones are unsafe for dogs. Soft bones are okay and can even have health benefits, but be sure to check the sardines and remove any large bones before serving (chopping them up to see is the safest option). 

Can dogs be allergic to sardines?

Yes, dogs can have an allergic reaction to sardines. If you’ve not fed them before, offer a small portion and monitor your dog in the hours following. If they present any of the symptoms below, don’t feed them any more and consult a vet. 


  • Reddening, itching, rashing of the skin
  • Swelling of skin, face
  • Breathing difficulties, wheezing 
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea 
  • Bloating, pain in stomach
  • Lethargy, change in behaviour 


Can sardines make dogs sick?

  • There are some obvious reasons sardines can make dogs sick - if they’re not fresh, for example, so always make sure you’re feeding fresh, cooked sardines to your pooch as raw fish is more likely to carry bacteria.
  • Sardines drenched in oils, brine or sauces can make your dog sick with vomiting or diarrhoea, or they may find them very hard to digest. Avoid flavoured sardines such as these and stick to plain.
  • If your dog has pancreatitis, sardines may make them sick, as they’re a fatty fish that some sensitive stomachs may struggle to process. 


How to safely give sardines to your dog?

The best way to serve your pooch some tasty sardines is to stick to fresh ones that have been cooked and had all large bones removed. Oven-baked or steamed is best, and don’t add any salt, seasonings or sauces. 

If you want to serve your dog tinned sardines, the safest ones are served in spring water. The varieties that come in brine, sauces and oils aren’t recommended to serve your pooch. 

Can dogs eat sardines every day?

It’s not a good idea to feed something to your dog every day, unless it’s a nutritionally balanced dog food that’s been formulated for daily feeds. Fresh, cooked sardines without any salt or flavourings can be fed to your pooch as part of a balanced diet that is full of various lean proteins, fruits and vegetables - but not on its own or as a daily food. 

What kinds of sardines can dogs eat?

Let’s go into more detail over the kinds of sardines dogs can munch on safely... 

Can dogs eat sardines in tomato sauce?

They can, but it’s not recommended. Tinned sardines don’t necessarily contain harmful ingredients, but the tomato sauce is likely to contain lots of salt and could potentially cause a stomach upset in your pooch.  It’s safer for your dog’s tum to try fresh sardines or the tinned sardines that come in spring water. 

Can dogs eat tinned/canned sardines?

Maybe - depending on what they’re served in. Tinned sardines served in spring water are a big thumbs up, as sardines are a good source of omega 3, as well as protein and lots of vitamins and minerals. Tinned or canned sardines served in oil, tomato sauce or other flavourings should be avoided, however - oils are too high in fat for your pooch while flavoured sauces could cause havoc with their digestion and make them unwell. 

Can dogs eat sardines in oil (sunflower, olive)?

No, it’s not recommended. Sardines are a nutrient-dense fish for dogs and have lots of benefits to their health, but the tinned kind that come in olive oil or sunflower oil aren’t safe for a doggy snack. They’re simply too high in fat, and as sardines are high in (healthy) fats already, this calorific fat content tends to tip the balance from healthy to unhealthy.

Can dogs eat sardines in brine?

No, it’s not a good idea to give your dog sardines soaked in brine. Brine is great for preserving fish but it’s very high in salt, too high for a dog’s delicate digestive system. If they sneak a sardine in brine somehow it shouldn’t be too much of a danger, but if you want to feed your dog sardines intentionally, stick to fresh fish or the sardines that come tinned in spring water.

Can dogs eat whole raw sardines with bones?

It depends. Many sardines have soft bones which aren’t harmful for a dog, in fact fish bones can provide some nutrients. However, larger bones can cause a choking hazard and shouldn’t be fed to them. If you’re getting your sardines from a fishmonger, ask them about the bones beforehand, perhaps ask for the bones to be removed. If you aren’t sure, it’s safer to not give the boned fish to your dog. 

Can dogs eat sardines in spring water?

Yes! Sardines are packed with nutrients for dogs - omega fatty acids which have tons of health benefits, as well as protein, vitamins and minerals. Dogs love the taste of them, too. Sardines that come in spring water are safe, and much better than the tinned variety in tomato sauce or oil. 

Can dogs eat frozen sardines?

If the sardines were fresh and are now frozen, they should be safe for your dog to eat - just be sure to fully defrost them before serving to your pooch. If you aren’t sure about the bone content in the fish, examine them before serving and remove the bigger bones, if you can. Remember, fish should always be served to your dog plain, with no added salt or seasonings. 

Other FAQs

Here are some final questions you might have over whether your pooch can munch on sardines… 

Can dogs with pancreatitis eat sardines?

It’s not recommended that dogs with pancreatitis eat oily, fatty fish, as these dogs tend to have issues processing fats. Check with your vet to be certain, but if you’re not sure, definitely avoid feeding sardines to your pancreatic pooch. 

Can pregnant dogs eat sardines?

Sardines are a great option for pregnant and nursing dogs, as they’re rich in calcium and nutrients which they’ll get a lot of health benefits from. However,  sardines that come canned in sauces or drenched in oils are not suitable for dogs, and definitely not pregnant dogs. Stick to fresh, plain sardines for your pregnant pooch. 


  • In summary, sardines can be a really healthy food for a dog - they’re full of protein and omega fatty acids as well as powerful vitamins and minerals that benefit a dog’s body and mind. 
  • Serving cooked, fresh sardines without sharp bones is key. Don’t feed dogs sardines that come canned in brine, oils or sauces, as they could cause digestive problems, and be sure they don’t have any added salt or seasoning.
  • If your pooch has pancreatitis, it’s best that they avoid sardines.

What other foods can dogs safely eat?

If you like the sound of feeding sardines to your dog but are looking for alternatives, why not try the following? 

Salmon is a highly nutritious fish that’s also full of lean protein and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. 

White fish is a tasty fish for dogs that is gentle on digestion and great mixed with other foods like potato and peas. 

Salmon Oil for Dogs is a powerful supplement that condenses all the goodness of fish into an easy-to-administer oil you can drizzle over their regular food. 

Long-lasting Fish Chews give that irresistible fishy taste to dogs while also calming their mood and improving their dental health.

Our tasty range of healthy, grain-free dog foods have plenty of fishy, highly digestible ingredients just like sardines, to keep your dog happy and healthy. 

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