Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Sardines for Dogs and Cats – Whole Food for Good Health

Dogs and cats need whole food to maintain good health – sardines are a fantastic whole food, and an excellent treat. Fresh-frozen, whole sardines (head, body, tail) are the preferred choice for ultimate nutritive value.

Canned sardines are cooked at high temperatures resulting in loss of nutritional benefits, and toxic contamination. Toxins in the can, including BPA in the lining leach into the food. Studies have shown that even short-term feeding of canned products increases the concentration of toxins in a dog (or cats) body. For these reasons raw-frozen sardines are preferred over canned, however if you select a canned sardine product with care, even canned sardines can improve a diet of dry highly processed pet food. If you must use canned sardines, avoid products that contain inorganic table salt / iodized salt. Avoid products that contain toxic oils such as (non-organic) unspecified ‘vegetable’ oil, canola oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, or cotton seed oil – these are all GMO oils contaminated with glyphosate (a carcinogen).

Most grocery stores sell uncooked, whole fresh-frozen wild-caught sardines. You can also purchase fresh sardines. Sardines have very soft bones dogs and cats can consume without fear of harm. The bones are an excellent source of calcium. No need to remove the head or tail of the sardine - nutritional value is increased when the fish is eaten in its entirety. There are two basic sizes of sardines – very small sardines, and larger sardines. Small sardines are a great treat. You can also choose to puree or finely grind sardines in a food processor or grinder to make your own fish pate for fussy kitties. The larger sardines can be sliced up in small pieces if you are feeding a small puppy or small-breed dog, or left whole for larger dogs.

Sardines are an excellent source of natural, unprocessed:

  • Antioxidants.
  • Essential macro-nutrients, and micro nutrients.
  • Essential Amino acids
  • Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Rich in protein.

Sardines can help your Dogs and Cats:

  • Bone health
  • Brain health
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Eye health
  • Joint health
  • Metabolic health
  • Mental health
  • Skin health
  • And more!

Dry / Canned Pet Food, Cooked Food Diet Dogs and Cats
If your dog and cat is currently a diet of highly processed dry food, canned food, or home cooked food you have two choices –

  • You can lightly (at the lowest heat setting), cook the sardines in a little healthy oil – i.e. organic coconut oil, or olive oil.
  • If you cook the sardines, remove the bones before serving the sardines to your dog or cat.  
  • You can also choose to introduce your dog and cat to raw sardines.
Raw Fed Dogs and Cats
If your dog and cat is currently on a raw diet, you can introduce raw sardines - simply thaw and serve.

Introducing Raw
  • Start by offering one raw, frozen-thawed, small piece of sardine (or small whole sardine) away from meals (in between meals). 
  • If no adverse reaction occurs (i.e. loose stools, diarrhea, vomiting), you can repeat the treat again the following day. 
  • You can slowly increase the size of the treat – i.e. a medium size dog - start out with a small piece of sardine, and slowly build-up the amount given over the space of at least several weeks. 
  • By following this process you can avoid adverse reactions that occur when raw food is introduced too quickly, and in too large amounts.


  • If your dog has a food sensitivity to other fish, he / she may also have a sensitivity to sardines.
  • If trying raw for the first time, and – you have carefully followed the instructions above, and an adverse reaction occurs your dog (cat) may have a food sensitivity to sardines – stop use.

Fresh-frozen sardines are an inexpensive, simple, convenient, healthy whole food treat for dogs and cats.  For more information about options and safely adding fish to your dogs and cats diet go here.

For the health of your furry companion, it’s time to ditch toxic, health deteriorating highly processed dog and cat food treats,

Real food is medicine!

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Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats