Healthy Additions: Sardines
Well known for their healthy fats rich in omega 3, it’s worth considering if sardines may be the right Healthy Addition for your dog. Sardines may be somewhat smelly, but they can also be incredibly beneficial and nutritious.
What are Sardines?
These include a group of small, immature fish from the ocean. These fish are at the bottom of the food chain and don’t live very long. They eat mainly plankton, which results in some very healthy fish.
“Despite usually being classified as a single species, there are actually 21 different types of fish that fall under the sardine category. Sardinops, sardine, dussumieria and sardinella are some of the most well-known species today.”
Some other small fish that have similar benefits include mackerel, anchovies, and minnows.
Sardines can benefit the heart and brain, support joints, provide high-quality protein, vitamins, and healthy fats, relieve allergies, reduce cancer risks, aid weight loss, and weight management, suppress seizures, protect kidney function, and decrease depression.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The Omega 3’s EPA and DHA are the hallmark of this fish. Since they feed on plankton, these small fish acquire large amounts of Omegas. As a result, when your dog eats sardines, he gets all the benefits in highly digestible form!
These Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory, a good thing for so many of our dogs. If your dog has allergies, arthritis, an autoimmune disease, poor skin and coat condition, or leaky gut syndrome, then your dog is experiencing chronic inflammation.
So, the anti-inflammatory Omega’s in fish can help reduce that chronic inflammation, thus relieving allergy symptoms, arthritis pain and stiffness, improving dry, flaky skin, and dull coats, and healing an inflamed gut.
Omega 3 promotes brain power! Their healthy fats nourish the brain and protect it from inflammation. Studies show that omega 3 fatty acids are linked to your dog’s cognitive function during all the developmental stages from the young puppy to the senior dog.
Vitamins D and B12
Vitamin D exists is found in ample amounts and supports healthy bones and joints which may help prevent injury and bone disease.
The Vitamin B12 is highly digestible and supports heart health. When combined with EPA and DHA in the fish, these special fish provide double protection against heart disease!
Since they are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory, and promote overall health, fish are also effective at reducing risks for tumors and cancer.
“Studies have shown that omega-3s found in the sardine can inhibit the formation of tumours and prevent cancer from metastasizing. They do this by inducing a process in cancer cells called apoptosis. Today, science is also showing that an ample source of vitamin D, from the sardine, may turn out to play an important role in the prevention of certain types of cancer as well.”
Safer than Oils
In addition to these benefits, supplementing your dog’s diet with sardines is better than using oils. The fats from a whole fish are much less likely to go rancid than are extracted oils (i.e., salmon oil) before you can use them.
Speaking of oils, a health concern that might not come to mind is the liquid your dog’s fish are packed in. We do not recommend fish packed in soy oil or brine for your dog. Soy oil, along with corn, sunflower and safflower oils, are high in pro-inflammatory Omega 6. This Omega fatty acid is provided in excess by commercial dog foods and causes a host of inflammation-related diseases.
Sardines packed in brine will be overly salty, which in excess can be harmful to your dog.
It is best when using canned fish to find them in plain water or olive oil.
Concerned about heavy metals? The great thing small or young fish is that they don’t live long enough to pick up heavy metal in toxic amounts.
“Sardines are the best choice in canned fish because of the omega-3s they supply, and they don’t have the heavy load of contaminants carried by larger fish either. They are small fish or immature members of a larger species, thus sardines have not had time to pick up heavy metals in their short lives.”
As a precaution, you can try to find sardines that have not come from Japan. Choosing fish caught and processed in other countries may reduce possible strontium contamination.
What about the bones? Won’t they hurt your dog? The bones in canned sardines are soft and easily chewed and digested. You can feed these without worry.
However, pet owners should debone raw fish before giving it to their dogs to avoid a potential hard bone stuck in the throat or digestive tract.
Alternatively, you can puree the entire fish, bones included, with a healthy liquid like pumpkin, yogurt, bone broth, kefir, or coconut oil. An especially good choice is coconut oil since it would combine the omega 3’s of the fish with the MCTs in the oil for a super brain-boosting recipe.
As with all foods, please feed sardines in moderation. This is the safest way to avoid any danger and enjoy the benefits.
Feeding Choices for Sardines
Feed sardines by your dog’s ideal body weight. Here are recommendations for feeding by body weight and can contents. (These recommendations assume your can holds 3.75 oz.)
When using whole raw, freeze-dried, or frozen fish:
“You can add a few sardines to provide the fatty acids needed, or you can make a once-a-week complete meal of them. Bones are included, and the mineral ratios are perfect: Sardines are real food in its whole form. However, this isn’t a meal you would want to feed your pet every day!”
Be sure that when you add sardines to your dog’s diet, you watch out for the extra calories. Reducing your dog’s kibble will be necessary if you don’t want him to gain unhealthy weight.
“A 3.75-ounce can of sardines has about 200 calories, so reduce the amount of dry food given on “sardine days” accordingly. Rule of thumb: One can of sardines in water has about the same number of calories as ½ cup of most dog foods.”
You may find that some dogs prefer their sardines raw, frozen, canned or dried. While your dog may do just about anything for a canned sardine, he may turn his nose up at a raw one. Raw or frozen sardines are usually much bigger than canned sardines, so for small dogs choosing canned or cutting the fish first may make an easier meal for little mouths.
No one form (raw, frozen, freeze-dried, canned) is better than another as a general rule. Whether you choose to use raw, canned or otherwise, will be based on what your dog needs. Smaller dogs will have an easier time eating canned sardines since they are typically smaller. Larger dogs may enjoy a good chew on a frozen fish.
Some dogs will benefit from having you fresh cook some fish for them, as this may settle better with dogs who aren’t accustomed to raw meats.
Follow the links to find healthy fish treats for dogs!
For Satisfied Dogs!
– Cassy Kay
Gauthier, Kimberly. “The Health Benefits of Sardines for Dogs” keepthetailwagging.com. Aug. 20, 2014. Web. Accessed May 17, 2018. https://keepthetailwagging.com/the-health-benefits-of-sardines-for-dogs/
Brown, Steve, and Talyor, Beth. “Sardines and Eggs: Natural, Affordable Omega-3 Treats for Your Pet” articles.mercola.com. July 28, 2005. Web. Accessed May 17, 2018. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2005/07/28/pet-omega.aspx#!
Dr. Mercola. “Sardines Nutrition and Benefits” foodfacts.mercola.com. Web. Accessed May 17, 2018. https://foodfacts.mercola.com/sardines.html
Habib, Rodney. “Want To Know Why the Low-Cost, Nutrient-Packed “Sardine” is a Must Add to Your Pet’s Diet Plan?” planetpaws.ca. Web. Accessed May 17, 2018. https://www.planetpaws.ca/2015/10/14/sardines-for-dogs/
Can I Give My Dog.com. “Can I Give My Dog Sardines?” Web. Accessed May 26, 2018. http://canigivemydog.com/sardines