There are so many health benefits your dog receives when you feed him/her sardines or other oily fish like herring or mackerel. The #1 benefit is that your dog is receiving a natural source of rich omega 3 fish oils – you are literally feeding the source of the fish oil. I stopped feeding fish oil to my raw fed dogs, Izzy and Hudson, (Mylah still gets some because she is a whole different story) and started feeding them the whole fish itself. Not only do my dogs LOVE to eat a whole prey fish, they also receive pretty amazing health benefits from these fish. I go over the health benefits in more detail below.
Oily Fish to Feed Dogs
The fish mentioned above are all oily fish that are low in the food chain and therefore low in mercury and other environmental contaminants. They also provide rich omega 3’s and plenty of antioxidants. If you feed your dog an entire fish whole prey including the guts and bones the fish has a perfect 80/10/10 raw feeding ratio.
I try to feed Izzy 3-4 whole prey sardines per week and here’s why:
- Sardines are great for preventing cancer and dental disease in dogs
- They are rich in antioxidants
- Sardines balance the fats in other protein sources I feed throughout the week
- Sardines are naturally rich in Vitamin D. Did you know dogs can’t produce their own Vitamin D and therefore rely on it from food? A study was evaluated by Dogs Naturally Magazine that evaluated dogs low in Vitamin D being at risk for cancer.
- They contain a good amount of Ubiquinol Coq10 which is important for cardiovascular health
- They’re great source of Vitamin B-12
Adding in Fish to Kibble – Even if you are feeding your dog kibble or freeze dried food you should still add in an oily fish like sardines! You don’t have to purchase them whole prey either. You can purchase canned sardines in water with no salt added and feed them to your dog. As with anything new you feed to your dog be sure to start off slow. Start with 1/4 of the fish and work your way up. If I have run out of whole prey sardines I will usually split a can of sardines between Hudson and Izzy for one meal. Sometimes I give Hudson an entire can of sardines in his meal, he is 80lbs for context. It just depends on what they are eating that week.
If you feed your dog sardines or another oily fish you do not need to be adding fish oil to their food. You never want to overfeed one food source to your dog (or yourself!).
Are You Worried about Feeding the Bones? Put simply, no. I don’t worry about this because my dogs have gotten really good at chewing through the bones and chewing whole pieces of their food before swallowing. If you are worried you can only feed the canned sardines or try to find deboned fish.
Feeding Fish to Help Dogs Skin & Allergies
One of the reasons I started feeding my dogs whole prey fish was because I wanted to see if Hudson’s allergies would improve. He has environmental yeasty flare-ups and I control them through diet, bathing, and all-natural topicals. While diets in the past have helped his overall skin and allergies to subside, I want to try and prevent the allergic flare-ups and thought fish could help. I have noticed that on days I feed him a whole prey herring (a 12lb fish whole) he is never itchy. We will see how this goes in terms of preventing flare-ups as I continue. So far feeding him these fish only make his allergies and skinhealth improve!