You can either love or hate anchovies: there is no middle ground. The same goes for dogs, but most dogs love them!
You can test our theory out by popping open a can of anchovies and witnessing your pooch running to your feet with its signature puppy dog eyes within minutes!
The distinct fishy smell of anchovies seems to put all dogs in a trance. But just because your pup loves them, can dogs eat anchovies? Are anchovies good for dogs?
Thankfully, dogs can eat anchovies. So, you do not have to feel guilty about giving in to your pup’s pleading eyes and giving it some anchovies. But that is not all!
There are a few critical things that you need to keep in mind before approving anchovies for dogs.
This article delves into the fishy (pun intended!) relationship between anchovies and dogs and takes you along this journey of enlightenment!
Let’s get started!
What Are Anchovies?
Anchovies are tiny fish with a silvery hue that gives off blue and green reflections. A school of this fish is generally dense and large, with typically more than 100 of these species living in warm temperate or shallow tropical seas.
They usually traverse brackish water surrounding river mouths, but some also inhabit freshwater. They are found in temperate to cool oceans worldwide but are most common in and around the Mediterranean.
There are more than 150 anchovy specie types, all belonging to the same Engraulidae family.
Anchovies are generally rapidly reproducing fish, with their primary food source being plankton. An adult anchovy’s median size is about five to six inches.
Anchovies are known by another uncommon name: the “oily fish.” That is because they hold oil in the belly cavity surrounding their gut and tissues.
Oily fish fillets may contain up to 30% of oil, but the percentage may vary depending on the species and variety of the organism.
Some other common oily fishes are herring, sardines, and other larger pelagic fish – including swordfish, salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel.
Anchovies are distinguished worldwide because of their distinct and rich flavor, which actually has less to do with their natural taste and more with how they are cured. Contrary to popular belief, fresh and uncured anchovies taste quite mild.
Can Dogs Eat Anchovies?
Yes, dogs can eat anchovies – but not without certain limitations.
Anchovies have multiple health benefits and are exceptionally healthy sources of proteins and fats. They contain Vitamins A, B, D, and E, selenium, and a bulk of omega-3 fatty acids that can positively impact your dog’s health.
However, anchovies also have some health hazards when you look past the sunny side. Although tiny, they are packed with oils and salt content, making their high quantity dangerous for your pet.
Some dogs may also be allergic to fish, and thus make sure you keenly monitor your pup’s actions after giving them anchovies for the first time to detect any subtle signs of allergic reactions.
Is It Good To Feed Dogs Anchovies?
Anchovies are a healthy treat or snack for dogs since they are quite small. All you need to do is mash these tiny fish, add them to your dog’s wet food or kibble, and make your dog happy!
You also do not need to worry about anchovies posing a choking hazard to your pet pup since the cartilaginous anchovy bones are soft and relatively easy to digest.
You can also cut the small anchovy into even smaller pieces if you have a small dog to make the chewing process easier.
If it’s your first time treating your dog with an anchovy, you should start with a single piece and keep an eye on your dog for any allergic reactions.
If your dog exhibits symptoms such as excessive licking or scratching of skin, diarrhea, or vomiting, you should contact your vet immediately to address the issue.
Anchovies Nutritional Facts
Anchovies are rich in protein, making them a critical building block in promoting bodily processes, including muscle mass development, body repair, and metabolism boost.
They are also a vital source of the following:
We can sketch the following nutrition table for a three-ounce serving of anchovies:
How Many Anchovies Should You Give Your Dog?
The following table is based on 25% of the maximum safe everyday dose of combined DHA and EPA fatty acids, as stated by the National Research Council. It offers you a birds eye view of the anchovies you can safely give your adult dog:
This table offers a good idea of how much fish you can safely give your dog. You can check if the table works for your dog by peaking at its stools.
If your dog’s feces become excessively soft, it is wise to decrease the amount of fish your dog eats. On the other hand, if you fail to notice your pet exhibiting positive signs of its fish intake.
Such as improvement in joint stiffness or coat hair – within eight weeks, you can consider increasing the anchovy intake amount, but only slightly.
You must also remember that despite their small size, anchovies are full of calories. A 4.5 oz dehydrated anchovies bag – which typically contains 15 to 20 fish – contains more than a whopping 644 calories.
This count brings the individual calorie count for dehydrated anchovies to about 30 to 45. You can balance these extra calories out by tailoring the rest of your dog’s diet to reduce anchovies’ health risks, especially if your pet pup is overweight.
Can You Give Anchovies In Olive Oil To Your Dog?
Since it is common to think of olive oil as a safe and healthy oil, can you give anchovies in olive oil to your dog?
Giving anchovies in olive oil to your dog translates to giving them more calories without added health benefits. Therefore, the extra olive oil in anchovies does not play any beneficial role for your dog except for increasing the calorie count.
Although it may be a safe anchovies dog treat, it may not be beneficial. Dehydrated or fresh anchovies are relatively safer for dogs than those with olive oil.
Can You Give Dried Anchovies To Your Dog?
Yes, you can give dried anchovies to your dog. In fact, bite-sized dried anchovies are loaded with the traditional anchovies benefits, making them a good choice for your dog.
Since dehydrated anchovies generally come whole, you can give the same to your dog and witness its happiness!
Various Types of Anchovies For Dogs
As discussed before, dehydrated or raw anchovies make up the best choice for your pup. However, there are other ways to feed your dog anchovies. The following account looks over the most common anchovies types and whether they are dangerous or safe for dogs.
Raw anchovies are an excellent protein source and utterly safe for your dog! You don’t need to cook these tiny fish to make your dog love them.
Fresh anchovies, similar to dehydrated anchovies, are an excellent dietary option for your dog. If you live in a place where you can easily procure them, wait no longer and get a few for your pet!
Dogs are highly likely to get sodium poisoning, which is the primary element of salt. Therefore, it is advisable to keep your dog away from salted anchovies.
Pickled anchovies are also rich in salt, making them highly unsuitable for your dog.
Like salted and pickled anchovies, marinated anchovies also contain an excess of salt, making them undesirable for your pet dog.
Cooked anchovies are safe for dogs, provided you do not use salt, spices, or extra oil in the process, as they can harm your pet’s health.
Although giving your dog boiled anchovies is safe, it is unnecessary. You can give your dog fresh, raw, and uncooked anchovies, and it will be happy the same, saving you trouble!
It is advisable to keep your dog away from fried anchovies, as the extra fat and calories are highly unlikely to do them any good.
Anchovy paste contains considerable amounts of sugar, salt, vinegar, spices, and various other ingredients that may not be suitable for dogs.
Which Anchovies Should You Avoid For Your Dog?
As discussed, freshly caught, thawed, or frozen anchovies are your best fish options when it comes to giving your dog a healthy treat or snack. Unless you are fond of making Mediterranean-styled food or are a die-hard fan of these tiny fish, you would likely procure cured anchovies.
Cured anchovies come in three different forms in the United States:
- Marinated in vinegar
You should steer clear of the salt-packed anchovies out of these three. Even though they may seem delicious to your dog, they are not suitable for its health since they are packed with sodium.
How Should You Prepare Anchovies For Your Dog?
The best way to give your dog anchovies is dried or fresh. Both types are readily available in the fish section of almost all department stores.
Remember that you must keep your dog’s fish intake moderate. You can give your dog two to three anchovies every day if it is small and up to five for larger dogs.
You can also consult your vet to derive a suitable amount of anchovies for your dog based on its weight and health.
One of the best ways to prepare these small fish for your dog is by mashing them and adding them to your pet’s typical food. You can also give the whole anchovy – head, tail, and everything else included – to your pet since it has very soft cartilaginous bones that do not pose a choking hazard.
For very small dogs or puppies, breaking each fish into even smaller pieces is advisable.
Avoid giving canned anchovies to your dog as they are rich in oil and salt content. The high sodium concentration may harm your dog’s health. However, canned anchovies in water are ordinarily safe for dogs.
What Are The Benefits of Anchovies For Dogs?
Prevents and Reduces Inflammation
Several dietary studies indicate that a high omega-3 fatty acid intake can reduce the risk of several diseases. That is primarily because fatty acids hold the potential to dampen inflammatory reactions, which are the most typical disease precursors.
Although inflammation is necessary to combat infections, chronic inflammation can harm your dog. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce dogs’ chronic inflammation, which proves advantageous in treating digestive disorders, arthritis, diabetes, and several other infections.
Augments Brain Development
Anchovies are full of omega-3 fatty acids and thus are highly advantageous in healthy brain development in puppies. They are also vital in promoting your pup’s learning abilities.
Since a dog’s brain comprises 50% fat – with 10-20% of all fats being DHA – approximately 90% of the space is occupied by long-chain PUFAs. These statistics make DHA highly important for memory retention and cognition in dogs, consequently affecting their trainability.
Research shows that puppies who consume a DHA-appropriate diet exhibit higher memory performance, which may include psycho-motor performance tests, learning, and visual contrast discrimination.
Puppies who consume a DHA-rich diet also seldom outperform pups with a low DHA intake.
Provides Vital Nutrients
Besides omega-3 fatty acids, anchovies are rich in calcium, protein, iron, and other minerals. They are also packed with Vitamins A, E, K, B12, and B6, making anchovies crucial for your pup’s daily nutrition requirements.
These essential vitamins and minerals can also help boost your dog’s brain, heart, and immune system functioning.
Promotes Skin and Coat Health
As discussed before, anchovies are rich in vital vitamins and minerals that can keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and shiny.
Omega-3 fatty acids, present in abundance in this fish, can promote the condition and quality of your dog’s fur, moisturize its skin, and prevent flakiness, dryness, and itchiness.
Are There Any Hazards Of Feeding Anchovies To Dogs?
Anchovies are unequivocally an excellent meal choice for your doggo, but there are specific hazards that you should keep in mind when giving them to your dog:
Allergies or Allergic Reactions
Although it is quite rare, some dogs may be allergic to fish. Even in dogs that don’t, anchovies may trigger allergic reactions because of their position at the bottom end of the food chain.
They may contain pollutants or heavy metals that can upset your dog. Thus it is crucial to monitor your pet for allergic signs, including excessive scratching, licking of skin, diarrhea, or vomiting. In case your dog exhibits such symptoms, stop giving them anchovies.
Excess of Fat
Despite their small size, anchovies contain considerable amounts of fat. Although fat is a vital part of a nutritious and healthy dog diet, excessive fat intake can cause health complications in dogs with the sensitive gastrointestinal system.
That is why it is advisable to avoid anchovies in oil since olive oil and multiple other oil types contain considerable amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. Most dogs already consume appropriate amounts of this fatty acid through their everyday diet, eliminating the need for excess intake.
Anchovies packed in oil also elevate the calorie count in your pet dog’s diet without increasing the nutritional benefits.
Excess of Salt
Anchovies contain abundant sodium content, which may not prove healthy for dogs. It is wise to avoid spiced, salt-packed, flavored, or marinated anchovies, as they may upset your dog’s gastrointestinal system.
The Board of Agriculture and Natural Resources recommends about 100mg of salt intake for dogs weighing 33 pounds, making excessive anchovy intake undesirable.
Your dog may exhibit the following symptoms if it has had too much salt:
It is advisable to consult your vet to determine the number of anchovies and salt you should give your dog based on its overall health and size.
How Can You Feed Anchovies To Your Dog?
Safe and healthy anchovy choices for your dog include the following:
Anchovy Dog Treats
Anchovy dog treats or freeze-dried anchovies are a suitable choice for your dog and are readily available at almost all pet stores.
Anchovies In Unsalted Water
Anchovies packed in unsalted water are also readily available and are healthy for your dog because of their low sodium content. Additionally, their open tin can last for two to three days in the refrigerator.
Raw, fresh anchovies bought either locally or from a department store’s seafood section are a highly desirable choice. They can also be easily stored in the refrigerator for about two to three days.
Thawed or Frozen Anchovies
Most pet stores, well-supplied grocery stores, and the fish section of local markets have frozen anchovies for sale. You can store them in your freezer for a considerable amount of time.
Unsalted Dried Anchovies Without Artificial Flavor Or Spices
You can also opt for dehydrated anchovies stored in resealable, airtight bags. Make sure the bag you choose is sealed well, and store the anchovies in a dry and cool location.
Dried anchovies may also go by the name freeze-dried or dehydrated anchovies.
Are Anchovies One Of The Best Fish For Dogs?
Anchovies are unequivocally one of the best fish options for dogs because of their nutritional facts and small, easily-chewable size. They are rich in Vitamins A, B, D, and E, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which can supplement your dog’s health.
The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in anchovy oil are excellent health boosters for dogs, as these supplements are widely known to improve joint, heart, and skin health. They also supplement gastrointestinal health and enhance digestion.
Additionally, anchovies with soft, cartilaginous bones are very small in size and, thus, do not pose a choking hazard for dogs. Even smaller dogs can easily chew and digest them.
Final Thoughts | Can Dogs Eat Anchovies?
Anchovies are tiny, bite-sized oily fish that make the perfect meal or snack for your pup. Not only do dogs love anchovies, but they are also rich in several vitamins and minerals, making them a healthy meal option.
Although you need to keep your dog’s fish intake in mind, you can safely put anchovies on your grocery list the next time you go grocery shopping for your dog.
Once your dog is done nibbling on this highly liked fish, you can come back for more information that you wish you had known sooner!