Can Dogs Eat Tuna? Your Questions Answered

Whether as a nice, big juicy steak or in the form of its humble tinned cousin, tuna fish is one of the healthiest and most popular forms of protein on the planet. If you love tuna, you may be wondering if your main mutt might enjoy it too. But can dogs have tuna? Read on to find out…
Stephanie Laming - Licensed Insurance Representative of 11 years & Dog Mum to 5 year old Tina
October 6, 2022
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6
min read

Can Dogs Eat Tuna? 

Dogs can enjoy tuna, but only in small amounts. 

Generally, cooked deboned fish is a great addition to the menu for your canine companion, because it contains plenty of protein, as well as omega 3, which has a host of benefits for your furbaby. Tuna also, however, contains more mercury than many other popular types of fish, and eating it in excess can cause mercury poisoning for canines and humans alike. 

This is because tuna are large fish that live long, which gives them more of a chance to absorb the mercury that can be found in the ocean due to natural occurrences such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires, as well as man-made problems due to factory pollution and the burning of fossil fuels. 

The good news is that by following the advice in this post, you can introduce tuna to your doggy’s diet without any problems. Let’s see how it’s done…  

How to Feed Your Dog Tuna

Too much mercury can cause damage to your dog’s nervous system, digestive system, kidneys, and heart. If your dog eats tuna too often, they could develop lesions or other injuries in their abdominal system and digestive tract.

This is why the first thing to know about feeding your paw-pal tuna is to do so only in tiny amounts – even a single tablespoon is more than enough. 

The next thing to know is that even in such small quantities, tuna can cause mercury poisoning if you feed it to your dog too regularly, as the mercury levels in your dog’s system can build up slowly over time. Take a break of a few weeks after your pooch eats each portion of tasty tuna. While larger dogs could probably handle more tuna a little earlier, it’s best not to take any chances. 

When introducing tuna to your hound for the first time, it’s best to monitor them carefully after introducing small amounts. And, if any symptoms arise, you need to be ready to rush your dear doggo to the nearest vet. 

If your dinner includes tuna, it should be safe to leave a bit for your canine. If you’re worried, though, there are plenty of types of fish with the same health benefits but none of the risks. These include trout, salmon, mackerel, cod, sardines, smelt, anchovies, herring, mackerel, whitefish and flounder. You’d have to make sure that whatever type of fish you feed to your favorite fur-friend is completely free of bones, of course. Fins, tails, and the head of the fish should also be removed. 

Can Dogs Eat Canned Tuna?

While canned tuna is the most affordable variety of this famous fish, as well as the most easily available, there is a lot to consider before you give canned tuna to your canine. 

One potential issue is that many brands of tinned tuna contain salt, which is not ideal for your doggo. There are, however, unsalted brands available, which are a better bet for your canine best friend.

Another issue is that some types of canned tuna include herbs and spices which could cause an upset stomach, or other health complications. You will need to find a brand that’s free of additives if you want your dog to eat a bit of canned tuna. 

Then there’s the matter of what the tuna is preserved in. While some brands use brine (a combination of water and salt), others use sunflower oil, and a few brands use spring water. 

This last option is your best bet, as it contains no additive, and preserves the Omega 3s in the tuna. If you can’t find tuna in spring water, sunflower oil should be ok in small amounts. In fact, it can even help give your dog a nice, healthy coat of fur, but only in moderation. Too much oil can cause inflammation or weight gain for your canine. The brine option is best avoided, due to its high sodium content.   

Can Dogs Eat Raw Tuna?

While any sushi lover will swear by how delicious raw tuna is, feeding uncooked tuna to your dog is a no-no.

Over and above the mercury levels, raw cuts of fish sometimes contain dangerous parasites that could cause your canine serious digestive issues. These include Listeria, Salmonella, and Clostridium. 

What to Do if My Dog Ate Tuna? 

If your dog ate a small amount of tuna, there is most likely no reason to panic. If your dog got hold of a large amount, however, you have two options. You can carefully monitor their symptoms, and get ready to take them to a vet if any present themselves. Or, you can head to a vet just in case. 

The symptoms of mercury poison are: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting blood
  • Abdominal swelling 
  • Anxiety 
  • Numbness in the paws
  • Problems urinating
  • Shaking 
  • Sudden lack of coordination 

Unfortunately, if your dog does have mercury poisoning, not only will this cause them serious health problems, but it’s often extremely expensive to treat. For both reasons, some dog owners may prefer to avoid taking the risk of feeding their dog tuna, and be extra careful not to let their dog find some if they have it for dinner. A good dog food should contain all the nutrients your pup needs, and there are other, safer types of fish you could feed Fido. 

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Final Thoughts

Tuna is a great source of many nutrients your dog needs, such as magnesium, potassium, selenium, and various types of Vitamin B. But it also comes with significant health risks, and your dog should be able to get enough of these nutrients through a balanced diet or a good brand of dog food. Mercury poisoning is no joke, and for this reason, it may just be safer to opt not to feed your favorite fur-friend tuna. 

If you do decide to give your doggy some tuna, make sure to do so in extreme moderation, and stick to cooked tuna with no added salt or spices, or tinned tuna in spring water.  

Consult a trusted vet for more advice on your doggo’s diet. 

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GoodPaw Pet Services Inc., GoodPaw, offers free advice, product information and other editorial resources that are intended for informative purposes only, and should not be used in place of proper veterinary care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat your pet. If your pet is experiencing any health concerns, contact a licensed veterinarian. GoodPaw assumes no responsibility for action taken based on information given from GoodPaw.com.

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