Anchovies are one of the healthiest fishes you can add to the diet of your dog. Anchovies are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. In particular, their omega-3 fatty acids offer powerful and wide-ranging health benefits. Omega-3 can contribute to the brain development of puppies, reduce inflammation, help dogs with arthritis, improve heart health and much more.
Anchovies are rapidly growing fish. Their primary food source is plankton. The average size of an adult anchovy is about 5 to 6 inches.
Illustration of an European Anchovy
Anchovies are also classified as “oily fish”. Oily fish have oil in their tissues and in the belly cavity around the gut. Fillets of oily fish can contain up to 30% oil, although this figure varies both within and between species. Other oily fish are sardines and herring, but also larger pelagic fish, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna and swordfish.
Recommended reading: Omega-3 for Dogs: What is it? Benefits, Sources and Dosage
In a perfect world, many different types of fish could provide your dog with the omega-3 fatty acids they need. Unfortunately, a large part of our fish supply is nowadays tainted with industrial toxins and pollutants. Especially larger carnivorous fish up in the food chain like salmon, mackerel and tuna are known to accumulate toxins, including heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, over their life span. This is why feeding these types of fish to our pets is no longer recommended.
Anchovies are at the bottom of the aquatic food chain, and are also relatively short lived. Because of this, anchovies do not harbor pollutants and toxins as larger and longer-lived fish do.
This makes anchovies an ideal feeding source because:
There are several healthy options to enrich the diet of your dog with anchovies, but be aware, not all anchovies sold for human consumption are good for canines too.
You can give your dog anchovies whole: the head, tail and everything included. You don’t have to worry about the bones because they are tiny and fully digestible. For small dogs, you can break or cut a whole fish in half. Depending on your preference, you can feed anchovies as a treat, or make them part of a regular meal.
Keep in mind that the main health benefit for your dog comes from the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA within the anchovies. These fatty acids are sensitive to temperature and oxygen.
In case you decide to give your dog dried anchovies, it is recommended that you buy them in resealable, airtight bags. Reseal the bag after you have taken out fish. Store the bag in a cool, dry place and use it within 30 days. In case you opt for canned anchovies, make sure to store opened cans in a fridge and use them within two to three days. Fresh fish should also be stored in a fridge, and given to your dog within two to three days.
All-Natural Dehydrated Anchovies
The recommendation in the table is based on 25% of the safe maximum daily dosage of combined EPA and DHA fatty acids stated by the National Research Council.³ The anchovies considered to calculate this recommendation are Campfire Treats' Dehydrated Anchovies for Dogs & Cats.⁴
|DOG'S WEIGHT||NUMBER OF DEHYDRATED ANCHOVIES PER WEEK|
|10 lbs||3 to 4|
|15 lbs||4 to 5|
|20 lbs||5 to 6|
|25 lbs||6 to 8|
|30 lbs||7 to 9|
|35 lbs||7 to 10|
|40 lbs||8 to 11|
|45 lbs||9 to 12|
|50 lbs||10 to 13|
|55 lbs||10 to 14|
|60 lbs||11 to 15|
|65 lbs||12 to 15|
|70 lbs||12 to 16|
|75 lbs||13 to 17|
|80 lbs||14 to 18|
|85 lbs||14 to 19|
|90 lbs||15 to 20|
|95 lbs||15 to 21|
|100 lbs||16 to 21|
|105 lbs||17 to 22|
|110 lbs||17 to 23|
|115 lbs||18 to 24|
|120 lbs||18 to 25|
|125 lbs||19 to 25|
|130 lbs||20 to 26|
|135 lbs||20 to 27|
|140 lbs||21 to 27|
|145 lbs||21 to 28|
|150 lbs||22 to 29|
Recommended Number of Dehydrated Anchovies per Week
You can get a good idea of the right amount of fish by looking at your dog’s stools. If you notice the feces becomes very soft, you want to reduce the amount of fish you feed. If you don’t notice much of a benefit in terms of coat improvements or joint stiffness within eight weeks, then you can increase the number of anchovies slightly.
Be aware that anchovies contain a lot of calories. A 4.5 oz bag of dehydrated anchovies, containing 15 to 20 fish, has about 644 calories.⁵ A single fish therefore has around 30 to 45 calories. You may want to consider these extra calories by reducing the rest of your dog’s diet accordingly. This is especially recommended for overweight pets.
Anchovies are small silvery fish, which are high in the omega-3 fatty acids EPS and DHA. These fatty acids offer powerful and wide-ranging health benefits for dogs. Most beneficial for dogs are fresh, frozen, dried/dehydrated or canned anchovies packed in water. Anchovies packed in salt and/or oil should not be given to dogs.
Have you ever given anchovies to your dog? What are your experiences? We’d love to hear from you!