Is tuna safe for dogs to eat?

Is Tuna Safe for Dogs to Eat?

Written by: Dr. Athena Gaffud

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Time to read 8 min

Tuna is a popular fish that many humans enjoy, but is it safe for dogs to eat? As a pet owner, it's essential to understand the potential risks and benefits of including tuna in your dog's diet.

One of the key factors that determine the safety of feeding tuna to dogs is the levels of mercury present in the fish. High levels of mercury can pose serious health risks to dogs, including neurological issues and organ damage. It is crucial to ensure that the tuna provided to dogs is low in mercury to avoid potential toxicity.

Moderation is key when it comes to feeding dogs tuna, as excessive consumption leads to digestive problems and even mercury poisoning. To prevent any adverse effects, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian regarding the appropriate amount of tuna to include in your dog's diet.

What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Tuna for Dogs?

 

Tuna offers several nutritional benefits for dogs, making it a potentially healthy addition to their diet.

One of the key advantages of tuna for dogs is its high content of omega-3 fatty acids , which are essential for a dog's cognitive function and for maintaining a healthy coat and skin.

Canned fish in brine, such as jurel, sardine, salmon, and tuna, are a good dietary source of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, with tuna having the lowest cholesterol content,” (Romero, N., et al, 1996).

Tuna is especially beneficial for dogs with cognitive problems. Read “Cognitive Support: Examining the Role of CBD Oil in Canine Dementia Care”.

 

Tuna is a good source of lean protein, aiding in muscle development and overall energy levels for dogs. 

The presence of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B, selenium, and potassium in tuna (USDA, 2019) can support your dog's immune system, bone health, and heart function.

For other high-protein diet options, you may also use beef-organ meats. Read “Learn About The Benefits Of Organ Meats For Dogs”.

What Vitamins and Minerals Does Tuna Provide for Dogs?

Tuna is packed with essential vitamins and minerals that benefit a dog's health in various ways. These nutrients play a crucial role in supporting a pet's overall well-being and vitality.

  • Vitamin B12 in tuna aids red blood cell production and supports neurological function.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids in tuna contribute to a healthy coat, reduce inflammation, and support heart health.

  • Selenium, an important mineral in tuna, acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage and boosting the immune system.

  • Iron in tuna is crucial for oxygen transport in the blood, enhancing energy levels and overall vitality in dogs.

  • Vitamin D helps regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in a dog's body and is essential for bone health and muscle function. 

How Much Tuna Can Dogs Eat?

nutritional supplement capsule

Factors such as the size, age, and overall health of dogs play a significant role in determining the ideal tuna portion. Larger breeds require more tuna to meet their nutritional needs, while senior dogs or those with specific health conditions need a more tailored approach.


When introducing tuna into your dog's diet, start with small portions to gauge their tolerance and watch for any signs of digestive upset. Monitoring their tuna intake is essential to prevent overfeeding, which leads to issues like mercury poisoning in dogs.

What is the Recommended Serving Size for Dogs?

The recommended serving size of tuna for dogs varies depending on their size, breed, and individual dietary needs.


Generally, a tablespoon of tuna a few times a week can be sufficient for small breed dogs, such as Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers.

Medium-sized breeds like Beagles or Cocker Spaniels might do well with around 1/4 cup of tuna per serving.


Larger breeds such as German Shepherds or Labradors can handle up to 1/2 cup per serving.


Remember, it's crucial to consider the dog's overall diet and health conditions before incorporating tuna. For dogs with kidney issues, high sodium content in tuna is harmful, so opt for low-sodium varieties or consult your vet for advice. Read “Grass-Fed Beef Kidney for Dogs”.

What Are the Potential Risks of Feeding Tuna to Dogs?

CBD oil given to a senior dog

One of the major risks of feeding tuna to dogs is the potential for mercury poisoning. Tuna, especially certain species like albacore, contain high levels of mercury, which is toxic to dogs when consumed in excess (Storelli, M., Stuffler, R., & Marcotrigiano, G., 2002).


Mercury poisoning leads to serious health issues such as neurological problems and organ damage. “Geographical origin of yellowfin tuna significantly influences mercury levels, suggesting the need for better traceability and exposure risk predictions,” (Nicklisch, S., Bonito, L., Sandin, S., & Hamdoun, A., 2017)


Tuna also causes digestive problems in dogs due to its high fat content. Dogs that consume too much tuna can experience gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis. Moderate the amount of tuna a dog consumes to avoid these potential health risks. Read “Dog Food Supplement for Pancreatic Problems”.

Can Tuna Cause Mercury Poisoning in Dogs?

Mercury poisoning is a serious concern when it comes to feeding tuna to dogs. High levels of mercury in tuna have detrimental effects on a dog's health, leading to various symptoms that pet owners should be aware of.


Excessive mercury intake results in neurological issues, kidney damage, and gastrointestinal disturbances in dogs.


Some common symptoms of mercury poisoning in canines include weakness, lack of coordination, tremors, and seizures. To manage seizures, read “Natural Dog Seizure Remedies”.


Elevated levels of mercury can impact a dog's immune system, leading to susceptibility to infections.


It is crucial for dog owners to monitor their pet's behavior closely after consuming tuna and seek veterinary attention promptly if any concerning symptoms arise.

Can Tuna Cause Digestive Issues in Dogs?

Feeding tuna to dogs sometimes results in digestive issues that affect their overall well-being. Understanding the potential digestive problems associated with tuna consumption is essential for maintaining your pet's health.


Common symptoms of tuna-related digestive problems in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy. Some dogs may also develop allergic reactions to tuna, exhibiting symptoms like itching, swelling, or hives. Read “Dogs' Allergy Alleviation: CBD Oil's Soothing Effects”.


If dogs show any signs of discomfort after consuming tuna, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian for proper assessment and guidance.

Can Tuna Bones Be Harmful to Dogs?

While tuna bones are small and seemingly harmless, they pose a risk to dogs if ingested. One of the main risks associated with tuna bones for dogs is the potential for choking hazards. Due to their small size and sharp edges, tuna bones easily get lodged in a dog's throat, leading to choking and breathing difficulties.


Tuna bones also cause digestive issues if swallowed. These bones splinter and cause damage to the digestive tract, resulting in pain, inflammation, and potential blockages.


To safely feed tuna to dogs, it is recommended to thoroughly check the fish for bones and remove them before serving. Alternatively, you can opt for boneless tuna or canned tuna in water, making it a safer option for your dog's consumption.

What Types of Tuna are Safe for Dogs?

raw and canned tuna

Several variations of tuna for dogs include fresh, canned, and cooked tuna. Each type offers its own set of nutritional benefits and risks to consider.

  1. Fresh tuna is a fantastic source of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can support your dog's overall health.

  2. Canned tuna when consumed in moderation, can also be a convenient and tasty addition to your dog's meals. Be cautious with canned tuna high in sodium or oil content.

Is Canned Tuna Safe for Dogs?

Canned tuna is a convenient option for pet owners looking to supplement their dog's diet. It's important to consider whether canned tuna is made specifically for dogs.

Is Raw Tuna Safe for Dogs?

One of the primary concerns when it comes to feeding raw tuna to dogs is the potential for bacterial contamination and parasites. Like other raw fish, tuna contains harmful bacteria such as Salmonella or parasites like roundworms, which make dogs ill.


To minimize these risks, if you choose to include raw tuna in your dog's diet, it's crucial to ensure it is fresh, high-quality, and properly frozen to kill any parasites present.

How Should Tuna Be Prepared for Dogs?

You can cook it by grilling, baking, or boiling the fish. Grilling the tuna helps retain its natural flavors while baking yields a more tender texture. If you opt for boiling, ensure it is plain without any added ingredients or seasonings.

When considering seasonings, it is important to avoid using any that are harmful to dogs , such as garlic and onions. Instead, you can season the tuna with pet-safe herbs like parsley or a dash of turmeric for added flavor.

Can Tuna Be Mixed with Dog Food?

Adding tuna to your dog's regular food introduces variety and additional nutrients to their diet.


When incorporating tuna into your dog's meals, it's crucial to ensure that it complements their existing diet rather than replacing essential nutrients. Tuna is a great source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various vitamins like B12, which benefit a dog's overall health. 

To create a balanced meal, consider mixing small amounts of cooked tuna with your dog's regular food, keeping in mind their size, weight, and any specific dietary restrictions they may have.

Can Tuna Be Used as a Treat for Dogs?

Using tuna as a special treat for your dog is a rewarding experience for you and your pet. When introducing tuna treats into a dog's diet, consider the numerous benefits this fish can offer.


To incorporate tuna as a snack while maintaining balance, it's crucial to choose plain, cooked tuna without added spices, salt, or sauces. Offering small amounts as an occasional indulgence can bring excitement to your dog's mealtime without compromising their nutritional needs.


For other healthy treat options, you may also consider Super Health Vitality™ Chews or CBD Full-Spectrum Happy-Furever Chews .

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

Yes, dogs can eat tuna in moderation.

Is Tuna Safe for Dogs?

Generally, yes. However, there are some precautions to take when feeding tuna to your dog.

What Are the Benefits of Feeding Tuna to Dogs?

Tuna is a good source of protein and essential fatty acids for dogs. It also contains important nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and B12.

Can Tuna Be Harmful to Dogs?

Yes, there are potential risks to feeding tuna to dogs. Tuna can contain high levels of mercury which can be toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities.

How Much Tuna Can I Feed My Dog?

The recommended amount of tuna for dogs is no more than 10% of their daily food intake. This means that for a 50-pound dog, the maximum amount of tuna should be no more than 5 ounces per day.

What Types of Tuna Can Dogs Eat?

Dogs can eat both canned and fresh tuna. However, canned tuna may contain added salt or other ingredients that may not be suitable for dogs. It is important to read the label and choose low-sodium options if feeding canned tuna to your dog.

Dr. Athena Gaffud, DVM

Author: Dr. Athena Gaffud

Dr. Athena is a seasoned, board-certified veterinarian with comprehensive expertise in general practice, veterinary medicine, laboratory operations, and veterinary writing. She is passionate about animals and holistic health. 

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