Can my Dog Eat Tuna?
The discussion of whether tuna is safe for dogs is still open. Experts are divided on this issue. As a pet owner, it’s up to you to decide if you’ll let your canine companion have some tuna. It is great that you’re here to gather information and make an informed decision!
Dogs are one of your valued life companions. You treat them as family, and you want what’s best for them. The answer to the question, “Can my dog eat tuna?” depends on what tuna you are talking about and how you plan to serve it.
Is Tuna Healthy for Dogs?
Unlike chocolate, tuna is not toxic to dogs. Many dog food companies are even it as one of their ingredients. In fact, tuna can be an excellent protein source, particularly for dogs with weak stomachs that cannot handle other types of protein.
Plus, tuna provides many health benefits for dogs. Besides high protein concentration, tuna also has rich amounts of fatty Omega-3 acids, which can improve your dog’s heart function, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health.
Tuna also includes various vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, B, choline, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, and many more. These nutrients can strengthen your dog’s immune system and increase muscular growth.
Overall, tuna is beneficial and healthy for your dog. However, it would be best if you only serve it in a small amount every once in a while and not make it a staple of your dog’s diet. This is because tuna has high mercury levels and hence carries the risk of mercury poisoning. Fortunately, this won’t be a problem if you only serve a small amount of the right tuna every now and then.
Tuna and Dogs
The answer to your question, “Can my dog eat tuna?” actually depends on the size of the tuna you’re going to serve. There are many types of tuna, but there are only five types that humans fish for and eat:
Since tunas are large fishes, they live longer, which means they have more mercury exposure than other fishes. In that case, you don’t want to serve your dog bigger types of tuna. We recommend sticking with smaller types like skipjack.
Compared to bluefin that can weigh a good 1,000 pounds or more, a small skipjack can only weigh around 42 lbs at maturity. Perhaps the second-best option is albacore tuna, which can weigh 73 pounds in adulthood.
When feeding your dog tuna, it would be best to always choose albacore or skipjack because of its lower mercury content per serving.
Will Tuna Relieve a Dog’s Sensitive Stomach?
As stated above, commercial dog food includes tuna as one of its ingredients. These chows may be intended to support dogs with weak stomachs that cannot absorb other types of protein. However, every dog is different. Food intolerance and allergies vary between animals, so there’s no absolute rule for this.
According to David Southey, a pet nutritionist and supporter of Fish4Dogs, fish have lower fat levels that can aid allergic reactions to food, making digestion easier. However, that doesn’t mean that your dog’s allergies are necessarily gone. It just stated that you could keep them within your control.
But keep in mind that it’s best to introduce new food little by little. Add it slowly to your canine’s diet and observe their reaction before proceeding to give them more.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Tuna?
Feeding your dog raw tuna is not a safe choice and is an unnecessary risk to take. Uncooked fish can contain bacteria and parasites that are bad for your dog. Besides, like any raw fish, raw tuna produces an enzyme known as thiaminase.
Any thiamine ingested by your dog can be dissolved by these enzymes, resulting in a condition that is most commonly known as thiamine inactivation. However, if you cook the fish properly before serving it, this enzyme will be rendered ineffective by the heat. Your dog will still love tuna even if it’s cooked, so do what’s best. It’s better safe than sorry.
Can Puppies Eat Tuna?
There is still no absolute answer to whether tuna is safe for puppies. However, it would be best to just wait until your puppies are grown before giving them new food.
The whole gastrointestinal and digestive system of a puppy is still under development in the first year. It is best to prevent possible upsets during these critical early months and stick to their diet or formula.
How to Serve Tuna to Your Dog?
Tuna is indeed beneficial for your dogs, but you need to follow some extra precautionary steps to ensure their safety.
Here are some things to keep in mind when serving your dog tuna:
- If you are buying canned tuna, only purchase water-based and not oil-based canned tuna. Too much oil is terrible for dogs.
- To avoid any chance of mercury poisoning, only buy tuna with a lower mercury content, like albacore and skipjack.
- When buying canned tuna, make sure to find the “no salt added” phrase on its label because tuna lives in saltwater and naturally has a high sodium amount. Added salt can elevate that sodium amount, which is also terrible for your dog.
- Another way to avoid high sodium concentration in the tuna you serve your dog is to soak it in water overnight before cooking. This gets rid of as much salt as possible.
- When serving fresh tuna, make sure that it is deboned. Bones can get stuck to your dog’s air passage and will likely cause choking.
- Don’t add any seasonings or salt to the tuna.
- Introduce the tuna to your dog’s diet little by little to observe any potential allergic reactions before giving them more.
- Only give small amounts of tuna to your dog once or twice a week.
Can Dogs Eat Tuna Summary
Giving your dog well cooked, canned water-based tuna without any oil, seasonings, bones, or flavorings once or twice a week is okay. Just introduce it to them slowly at first to ensure that they don’t have any allergies to it.
- FDA, “Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish” .U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2017.
- “Tuna Species”. National Fisheries Institute.
- “Fish-based pet food may help sensitive stomachs”. Pet Food Industry,2017