I absolutely love happy accidents. Especially when it comes to recipes. These smoked sardines for dogs and cats were a great happy accident. It all started because I was looking for sardines to feed my dog. I went to an Asian market and bought a big box of them. But when I opened the box it wasn’t full of small little sardines. It had these big 4-6″ inch ones. When I attempted to give it to my girl, she wouldn’t eat it. I almost threw the box away because while I hate being wasteful, I didn’t think anyone in my home would eat them.
Fast forward to my trip to the local farmers market. While I was there I spotted a smoked dog treat stall. Among the items I saw were the same smoked sardines I had purchased. When I asked the women about them she said she would cut one in half to see if my dog liked it. Well there was no issue. She gobbled it up in seconds and didn’t have any issues eating it.
So I went home that night and pulled all the sardines out of the freezer and went to work. The neighborhood cats all came out to see what was on the smoker. So you know it must be good. This recipe is for cats and dogs. It can be used both with smelt size fish all the way up to the 4-6″ sardine size. It retains all it’s healthy omega 3 oils, but seems to be easier to eat. These smoked sardines are a great source of protein and calcium as they can consume the bones. Best of all it’s a simple recipe that can be made in large batches. Keep only what you will use for about 7 days in the fridge and freeze the rest. I would imagine this will keep for at least 6 months in the freezer.
A Word of Caution
When using your smoker, make sure to keep it on it’s lowest setting. We aren’t trying to cook the bones, just smoke them. Cooked bones aren’t good for your pets. Low and slow is what you want. Also, always make sure your pet can handle whatever you are feeding them. Give small portions to start. Safety first.
How to Know When the Smoked Sardines are Done
This really depends on your pet. You can leave them softer if your animal prefers a little chew. You can also dry them a little longer for more crunch. So this part is up to you.
Smoked Sardine Treats for Dogs & Cats
- 1 Smoker
- 1 bag/box 6-8" sardines or similar/smaller fish
- Cut of the tails of the fish if they are Sardine size. You can see it in the picture.
- Turn on smoker to its lowest setting. 180-200 usually.
- Smoke for 4-6 hours for larger Sardines. Smelts only need about 2 hours.
- You can use any amount of fish that you have as long as it will fit in your smoker. You can also use smaller smelts and/or similar fish. Smaller fish work better for cats or training treats.
- While it might be possible to keep these in the refrigerator a little longer, I have not tested it. So for safety I would refrigerate any fish you will use immediately within the week.
- Freeze the rest in an airtight container for up to 6 months or vacuum packed I would imagine you could get up to a year. Make sure to fully thaw before feeding.