Pet Wellness Guides > Can Dogs Eat Tuna? - Pet Insurance Review

Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

Posted: 02/21/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Pet care , Top Tips

People are told to try and eat two to three servings of fish a week because of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in many varieties. But should we also feed our dogs fish? And if so, can dogs eat tuna specifically? After all, most homes have a can or two in their pantry at any given time.

The answer is… yes and no. Let’s clear up any confusion right now so you will know if and how much tuna to safely feed your pup as well as benefits and risks.

Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

can dogs eat tuna?

Yes, tuna is safe to feed your dog as long as you feed small amounts and only on rare occasions as a treat. Tuna is packed with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids (which are great for reducing inflammation and heart health), and it’s also an excellent source of protein to help your dog have strong muscles.

Tuna is also rich in some very important nutrients such as vitamins B12, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus, all important for optimal health for your dog.

While the benefits are great, the risks of feeding your dog too much tuna are even greater. That’s because tuna is also a source of mercury, and eating too much of it can cause a buildup of mercury in the body over time. This can ultimately lead to future serious health issues such as kidney damage, tremors and loss of coordination.

Having said all of this, yes, it’s technically ok to feed your dog tuna every once in a while as a treat, but understand there are other fish that offer the same benefits and have far lower levels of mercury, making them a healthier, safer choice. I’ll list some of those in just a moment, but first…

Is Canned Tuna Okay for Dogs?

can dogs eat tuna?

Canned tuna is fine to give your dog in small amounts. Be sure to give them the tuna that has been packed in water rather than oil and opt for skipjack or albacore instead of larger types of tuna such as bluefin or bigeye. Skipjack and albacore have been found to have lower mercury levels per serving.

It should be mentioned that some brands of canned tuna tend to have higher levels of sodium than others. Consuming too much sodium can be toxic to dogs, so be sure your canned tuna does not contain added salt.

And finally, if you are opting for the packets of tuna, be sure to read ALL of the ingredients. Many brands are now offering prepared tuna with different herbs and spices that are fine for people but could cause an illness in your dog.

How Much Tuna is Safe to Feed Your Dog?

While most dogs will do fine on small amounts of tuna, it’s always a good idea to introduce a new food to your pup slowly. Start out with a serving of ½ to 1 tablespoon of tuna a couple of days per week and monitor your dog’s reaction. Should your pup have an allergy to tuna, it should be evident within a 24-hour period. 

If all seems well, you can continue to feed tuna to your dog as a treat. Large breeds can be fed one can of tuna spaced out over the course of a week while smaller dogs can safely consume roughly half a can of tuna over one week. 

If you have any more questions about whether or not your dog can eat tuna, speak to your vet who can give you specific information on the types and amounts suitable for your pet based on their size, weight, and medical history.

Better Choices of Fish to Feed Your Dog

what fish can I feed my dog?

Generally speaking, smaller, wild-caught fish are safer options to feed your pup because they are less likely to have high concentrations of mercury. Some fish to consider feeding your pup instead are:

  • Salmon
  • Flounder
  • Whitefish
  • Herring
  • Cod
  • Catfish
  • Whiting

Fish to Completely Avoid Feeding Your Dog

The older and bigger a fish is when it is harvested, the more mercury it will have accumulated in its body. That is why certain fish are safer and certain fish more toxic. Species like shark, swordfish and king mackerel are harvested when they are older and larger, making them a poor choice to feed your dog because of high mercury levels. These fish also tend to harbor parasites in their skin, muscles and internal organs.

Also important to mention is to avoid feeding your pup farm-raised fish. These are far more likely to contain harmful dyes, antibiotics and other toxins. 

Final Thoughts

Can dogs eat tuna? Yes, they can, provided you only feed them small amounts and just every once in a while as a treat. Look for canned tuna that is packed in water and contains no added salt or other herbs or spices.

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The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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