Life in general is a trade off of risk and reward, action to consequences, and value to gain. These things generally balance out to, “you get what you pay for”. Now we come to the SUPER HERO of whole foods, the breakfast of champions added to your dogs’ morning meal, so that you can throw the above comments out the window. This very low cost food is so packed with energy support, reproductive health, joint building and lets not forget the benefit of a beautiful coat, it is the same as winning the nutritional lottery.

The common name of the sardine is actually from a group of small oily fish called Pilchards and are related to the herring. They were named after the island of Sardinia, where they where once fished in abundance and a staple food of Italy. My last visit to Italy and the amount of snorkeling that I did confirmed what the fishing logs had sadly reported; this area surrounding Italy has been all but fished out. Fortunately other areas of the world still provide a plentiful supply of over 20 varied species to the consumer as an inexpensive, but quality protein source.

The sardine is rich in omega–3 fatty acids, of a long chain variety that you can only get in seafood and is not available in vegetable matter. The omega–3 fatty acids play a major role in the function of the immune system and the maintenance of all hormonal systems. With added protection against heart disease, progressive retinal atrophy, and support for brain development in the unborn puppies, these are just a few of the benefits found in the sardine. Other essential fatty acids are in abundance in the sardine helping with arthritis, lowering cholesterol and is a strong cancer fighter. DHA (Doco-sahexaenoic acid) is an omega–3 essential fatty acid found in abundance in the sardine; puppies need sufficient amounts of DHA before birth in order for them to develop the brain and the nervous system as well as the immune system and the endocrine system. If the mothers diet is lacking in DHA she will give of her own store to the developing puppies as best she can but may never recover to her own optimum level and the puppies may not get enough and may not reach their full potential. Lysine is also found in abundance in the sardine, repairing soft tissue from disease and infections as well as supporting the activity level of most of the organs and other systems of the body.

Coenzyme Q10 is also found in abundance in this fish, being a powerful antioxidant and is known to promote a strong immune system as well as increasing circulation throughout the body. Let’s not forget the importance of Calcium and Vitamin D in a very naturally occurring form, easily absorbed and used by the dog. (see Calcium and Regulation Vitamin D in the October Canine Chronicle) Other vitamins found of value are the water-soluble B’s, which encourage appetite balance, “to hunger and to be full”. Vitamin A and K are also found at optimum levels to encourage healthy skin, and maintain blood functions thoughout the body of the dog. The mineral levels are also impressive such as; magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium and the tiny bones are easily digested and used as another source of available Calcium.

Sardines - 1.0 Each · 92.00 grams - 191.36 calories

Quality Source Nutrient Amount Daily value% Nutrient Density

Excellent Vitamin B12 8.22 mcg. 137.0 12.9

Excellent Tryptophan 0.25 g 78.1 7.3

Excellent Selenium 48.48 mcg 69.3 6.5

Excellent Vitamin D 250.24 IU 62.6 5.9

Excellent Omega 3 fatty acids 1.36 56.7 5.3

Very Good Protein 22.65 g 45.3 4.3

Very Good Phosphorus 450.80 mg 45.1 4.2

Good Calcium 351.44 mg 35.1 3.3

Good Vitamin B3 4.83 mg 24.1 2.3


Some of the reasoning behind using more sardines is it can be served as a whole food that has not been overprocessed where as fish oils not only become rancid quickly after opening but they have been overprocessed. Also, the small fish are immature members of the larger species of fish and have not accumulated the heavy metals in their short life span. In reality, the sardine is such a perfect food that in it you can gain total nutrition. The problem is that your dog would also start to have the same fishy smell coming through the oils in their skin, so small amounts on a daily basis would work best. It works well for use during high activity as a snack, going into the system quickly to give you the added boost needed to do their job, be it showing in the conformation ring or in the field, tracking, herding or running agility with the added benefit of keeping the dog from overheating, almost as if you added coolant to the dogs radiator. For those that follow a holistic approach to your dogs’ diet the sardine is considered neutral in thermal character and the trigger to the dog, for palate identification this would be a sweet and salty treat working well with the spleen and stomach energy flows.

The sardine is available many ways – fresh from the market is great, what you are looking for are bright eyes and fresh smell of the sea and a shiny body. You can buy what you need and they last for about 4 days in the refrigerator. You can freeze what is left precut into the portions that you need for your dog. For those who cannot run down to the fish market and hand pick what your dog needs, you can find the sardine in the canned meat isle of the grocery store. Here you find many styles of sardines packed in different oils, water, mustard or tomato sauces. The products that are best to use are packed in tomato sauce or olive oil allowing much of the oil or tomato sauce to slide off. You do not want to use tomato sauce within 3 days of whelping or the duration of her lactation with the pups as it can give the babies an upset stomach. Unopened canned sardines have a shelf life of over a year. Once opened they stay good in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

How much and how often you use this additive is fairly straight forward. Smaller breed dogs need a heaping teaspoon, medium size dogs need a tablespoon, while your giant breeds need two tablespoons. The exception to the amounts fed are with any dogs that are used in a water environment such as a Labradors, Portuguese Water Dogs, Newfoundlands, or Poodles as they need their amounts of sardines doubled. When first introducing this food you should start to feed it every other day at half the recommended amount as it can slightly soften the stool (do not start to use on a dog that already has a soft stool) while the body figures out what to do with the nutrition. Always feed fish additives in the morning as this is a food that is considered to brighten the dogs’ energy level and attitude. As a snack for hard working dogs, the sardine can be given through late afternoon.