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Can Dogs Eat Tuna? (Benefits, Risks, and Safety)

If you’ve found yourself wondering if tuna is safe for dogs, the answer is yes…sort of! This protein-packed, omega-3 rich fish can be a healthy addition to your dogs diet (if you do it right).

Collage of dogs and canned tuna

Can dogs eat tuna?

We’ve all been there: you’re making a tuna sandwich and the smell alone is enough to bring every dog in the neighborhood to your doorstep, just dying for a taste. While you probably wanted to throw a piece your dog’s way, or even give them a helping of tuna juice, you likely wondered if it was safe. Well, good news: tuna fish is in fact safe for dogs – under the right circumstances!

Tuna (like dog-friendly eggs and green lipped mussels and dried sprats) is high in protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help improve your dog’s skin and coat health. Tuna is also a good source of vitamin B12, which is essential for energy production and a healthy nervous system. But…is it safe?

Tuna in a can on a white background.

Is tuna safe for dogs?

Fresh tuna is safe for dogs as long as it’s cooked properly. Be sure to avoid giving your dog raw or undercooked tuna (no sashimi for you!), as this can contain harmful bacteria.

Is the mercury in tuna safe for dogs?

There are two main kinds of canned tuna:

  • Chunk white (albacore tuna)
  • Chunk light (usually skipjack tuna)

All canned chunk white tuna is albacore. The mercury levels in albacore are almost three times higher than the smaller skipjack tuna, used in most canned light tuna products. The FDA has issued advisories about the level of mercury in some fish, including albacore tuna.

The levels of mercury in tuna vary depending on the type of tuna and how it was caught. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) provides an online Mercury Calculator to help people determine the health risks associated with eating different types of seafood. You can visit the EDF website to find out more about mercury in tuna and other types of seafood.

The mercury level in certain tuna fish is safe for dogs, but it’s important to only give your dog canned chunk light tuna (not albacore), as the mercury levels are lower in these types of tuna. Avoid giving your dog albacore or white tuna, as these types of tuna have higher levels of mercury.

In cases where your dog might seem to constantly want to eat tuna, it’s smarter to consider other safer fish options, including salmon, arctic char, and flounder.

What are the signs of mercury poisoning in dogs?

While uncommon, it’s important to know the signs of mercury poisoning in the event that your dog scarfs down too much tuna:

  • Acting extremely nervous and loss of coordination
  • Vomiting up blood
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of hair
  • Tremors

If you notice any of these symptoms after your dog eats tuna, contact an emergency vet.

Shredded tuna on a white background.

What are the nutritional benefits of tuna for dogs?

Tuna is a high-protein food that also contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it a good choice for dogs who need to gain weight or who are recovering from illness or surgery. These fatty acids can help improve your dog’s skin and coat health, as well as their overall health. Tuna is also a good source of vitamin B12, which is essential for energy production and a healthy nervous system.

Is tuna a good source of protein for dogs?

Yes, tuna is a good source of protein for dogs. Protein is essential for the growth and development of dogs, and tuna is a high-quality protein source. Protein is also necessary for the maintenance of muscle mass and the repair of tissue damage.

Close up picture of canned tuna meat.

How to serve tuna to your dog

Tuna is flavortown for pups, and a little goes a long way! We love to use a tablespoons of tuna juice to flavor water. And tuna meat can be used to fill a KONG or frozen onto a lick mat. It’s even a great way to slip in medicine they don’t want to take otherwise!

Can I give my dog canned tuna every day?

You should not give your dog canned tuna every day. All tuna has mercury (skipjack tuna having less). To avoid mercury from building up in their body, you should only give your dog tuna in moderation, never feeding it in regular intervals. Make it a special treat!

If you have a large dog, they can generally have about 1 can of tuna every week (spread out over a few meals). Smaller dogs should have less tuna, about 1/2 of a can over the course of a week.

Can dogs drink tuna juice?

It’s ok for them to have a bit of the juice, but know that the juice is high in sodium which your pup doesn’t need. You can add a little tuna juice to their water as a flavorful treat, especially if it helps to get them to hydrate a little more (anyone else’s pup just hate drinking water?).

Should dogs have tuna in water or oil?

Dogs can have tuna in water or oil, but it’s important to avoid giving them too much oil. Too much oil can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Excess fat (oil) in the diet is not good for pancreatic health.

What about….

Can dogs eat tuna salad?

No, best not to give your pup tuna salad. Tuna salad often contains ingredients that are harmful to dogs, such as onions, grapes, raisins, and macadamia nuts.

Can dogs eat spicy tuna?

No, spicy tuna is not safe for dogs. Spicy tuna often contains hot peppers, which can be harmful to dogs.

Can my dog lick the tuna can?

Avoid letting them lick the can, which can have sharp edges!

Can dogs eat tuna and mayo?

While mayonnaise is not toxic for dogs, it is very high in fat and should never intentionally be fed to your dog.

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