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Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

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Tim Rhodes

Tuna fish sandwiches are a typical go-to food for a lot of hungry people when they’re looking for a quick and easy lunch to make, so can dogs eat tuna also?

This simple tuna fish sandwich is also loaded with nutritional benefits making it an even more popular choice among healthy eaters, especially for people who are concerned about their heart’s health.

Tuna fish salad sandwiches are also an easy way to load a bunch of veggies into your lunch considering most of them seem to pair quite well with tuna. 

While enjoying your lunch and thinking about how healthy it is for you, the thought of “Is tuna also safe for my dog to eat?” may have crossed your mind.

Our canine friends love to eat what we’re eating, so it wouldn’t surprise me if you came here today because your pup was begging for a bite of that delicious sandwich too. 

Table of Contents

Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

Feeding your dog something that doesn’t agree with their stomach could cause them to get very sick which neither you nor your pup wants.

Something that you might be wondering is – can dogs eat tuna too?

What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Tuna?

Let’s start with why tuna fish meat can be a more nutritional choice than other proteins you might like to put on your sandwiches.

The main reason people pick tuna fish for their sandwich instead of something like honey ham is that it’s a heart-healthy protein option. 

Tuna meat is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are amazing for overall health, they also help protect against cancers of the pancreas, ovaries, and every part of your digestive tract.

That can of tuna you just put in your grocery cart is also a great source of potassium, so don’t feel guilty about putting a few more cans in your pile next time. 

Did you know that foods that contain both potassium and omega-3 fatty acids send off an anti-inflammatory property to the cardiovascular system which helps to reduce high blood pressure?

That’s something we definitely can’t say about those double bacon cheeseburgers we’re tempted to get most days at lunchtime. 

Eating Your Way To Good Health Always Sounds Like The Tastiest Way To Get There

Iron and Vitamin B are also present in tuna meat, giving a boost to your hemoglobin and keeping your red blood cells forming at a healthy rate.

Mental health is important too and eating the right foods can improve your well-being, the Omega-3 fatty acids in tuna fish meat improve blood flow causing them to be a natural mood lifter.

The omega-3 Fatty acids that are found in tuna meat are loaded with nutritional benefits, if you are interested in reading more about them you should check out 7 health benefits of tuna for more about how eating tuna fish helps prevent diseases.

Canned tuna is an affordable, simple, and very healthy lunch option making it essential on a lot of peoples’ grocery lists. 

It’s no wonder that so many people are choosing a can of tuna for their sandwiches instead of overly processed deli meat with all those benefits. 

What If My Dog Has A Bite Of Tuna Fish?

Tuna fish meat may be a healthy option for you and me, but does it have the same effect on our dogs?

Unfortunately for us, the answer to this question isn’t just a simple yes or no.

While it is okay to feed your dog some freshly cooked tuna (with the skin and bones removed, of course) without having to worry about causing any harm, it is important to know your tuna facts before feeding them any so you can avoid any problems that could occur.

Tuna fish meat won’t make your dog sick if they only eat a little bit (once in a while) but too much of it could cause some harm in the long run. 

Another important thing you need to consider is how the tuna meat you’re about to feed your dog was prepared.

Fresh and cooked fish is always the safest route to go when it comes to feeding your dog tuna fish meat if you want to keep them healthy. 

The reason that fresh tuna meat is a better choice than canned tuna is because the meat in a can has a much higher level of sodium which can cause a lot of other health problems for your pup. 

Although canned tuna is perfectly fine for humans to eat, there’s way too much sodium in it for our dogs to handle. 

Too much sodium can cause dehydration making them extra thirsty, this puts a strain on your dog’s circulatory system and kidneys when they try to regain their fluids.

Stick to a plain light tuna in water to keep things as natural as possible for your dog.

If you’re making a tuna fish salad sandwich and plan on sharing some fish with your dog, keep some plain tuna meat aside because some of the other ingredients (such as onions) that you add to your salad could make your dog ill. 

Avoid giving your dog any canned tuna that has seasoning, onions, or garlic in it because it will upset their stomach causing them to become gassy.

Cuddle time with your pooch isn’t as sweet when they have a stomach full of gas. 

Always remove the skin and bones from fresh tuna before you give your pet a bite because they present a choking hazard. 

Don’t ever give your dog raw tuna fish meat because it poses risks that could seriously endanger their health!

Always cook the tuna fish meat to avoid the risk of parasites, something you would never want to risk giving to your dog. 

What Is The Biggest Risk Factor In Feeding Tuna To My Dog?

Okay, so we know about all the health benefits but what could be wrong with feeding tuna fish meat to my dog?

There is one big health factor to consider that poses a risk with feeding tuna fish meat to your dog.

While tuna is packed with all sorts of nutritional benefits for the heart, it doesn’t come without its risks of course.

If you happily fed your dog a bite of tuna while reading about the health benefits you don’t need to start panicking just yet.

As long as your dog only has tuna in moderation you don’t need to worry, but you should still be informed to make the right decision about what you feed your dog. 

What Is The Main Reason That You Shouldn’t Be Feeding Your Dog Tuna Fish Meat 

The biggest risk factor is that tuna fish have a much higher mercury count than most other types of fish.

There is a much higher chance of your dog getting sick with mercury poisoning from eating too much tuna compared to other types of fish.

Some of the symptoms of mercury poisoning in dogs include:

  • Blindness
  • Hair loss
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Numbness in their paws
  • Watery/bloody diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Trouble urinating due to swelling of the abdomen 
  • Kidney damage
  • Blood in vomit

Be cautious because some of these symptoms can’t be seen until it’s too late. 

You don’t need to stop giving them tuna fish as a treat if your dog only has a few bites once in a while, but making tuna part of your dog’s daily diet could pose the risk of mercury poisoning.

If you have a cat try to keep its food in a spot where the dog can’t steal any, cats’ stomachs can digest fish much easier than dogs so their food usually has tuna in it. 

Cats are usually pickier eaters than dogs, so some cat owners have no choice but to only feed their felines food with tuna in it.

Since cats are good jumpers I would recommend keeping their food dish up in their private section off ground, maybe on an unused section of countertop or spare end table where your dog can’t get at.

Why Is There More Mercury In Tuna Than Other Types Of Fish

As mentioned above, tuna fish has a much higher mercury count than many other types of fish.

Why are the mercury levels in tuna so much higher compared to the other fish?

Fish that have longer lifespans are capable of growing a lot bigger than fish that only live short lives. 

Tuna fish live in the ocean a lot longer than other fish so they end up growing very big which causes them to soak up more mercury from the water they are in over long periods. 

They also feed on smaller fish and those fish already have mercury in them, so this ups the amount of mercury in the tuna’s system even more.

There are several breeds of tuna in existence, but surprisingly only a few that we can eat safely since the mercury levels in bigger breeds of tuna are so high that even humans can’t eat them without getting mercury poisoning. 

Bigger tuna fish have a much higher mercury count so it’s always better to eat the smaller breeds of tuna fish, such as Skipjack. 

Tuna fish may be safe for humans to ingest, but remember your pooch has a much smaller stomach so it is hard to safely determine how much tuna is the right amount to feed them as a meal.

This is why tuna fish should only be considered as a once-in-a-while-treat for your dog and never given to them as part of their daily meals.

Does This Mean I Can’t Feed My Dog Other Types Of Fish?

If this post has you running to your pantry to check out which ingredients are in your dog’s food there is no need to be alarmed if you see other types of fish listed in the ingredients.

While most dogs are happy to eat just about anything you will give them, there are still some picky pups out there making it very difficult for the dog owners picking out food.

Some dogs refuse to eat chicken which puts their owners in a tough position when it comes to picking out healthy food that they will like.

For dog owners who can’t buy chicken, it makes sense that they would go for a dog food that has fish in it instead.

Fish is full of antioxidants and so many nutritional properties, which is why your dog is okay to consume the right types of fish,

The fish that they put in commercial dog food brands is usually the safest option for your dog to eat since these formulas are developed by experts who know the right amount of fish your dog needs. 

If your dog likes eating fresh meat then it’s best to stick with the same types of fish that they would put in the dog food you’re already buying.

Stick to fish that have lower mercury levels such as sardines, salmon, or herring when trying to pick out a fish that is okay to feed your dogs.

Smaller fish have less mercury in their system, making them a much safer option for both you and your dog.

Some other fish with high mercury levels that you should avoid (or limit) giving to your dog are:

  • Bluefish
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Shark
  • Halibut
  • Snapper
  • Buffalo Fish
  • Mackerel
  • Bass
  • Marlin
  • Swordfish

If your dog wants a piece of any of the fish listed above, make sure it is only a few bites because it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to your pet’s health.

Do not stress out about anything if your dog has ingested any of these fish in the past, they should be safe as long as it’s not something they have in their diets often.

Is Tuna Fish Meat Healthy For Dogs Or Not

You may still find yourself wondering if tuna fish meat is a safe option for your dogs or not because there are so many good and bad points made for both sides of the debate.

Tuna fish has several nutritional benefits making it an ideal protein choice, but it also has one risk factor that’s so big it can make you forget about all of those good nutritious points. 

So when it comes to your beloved dog’s health what’s the safest thing for you to do when it comes to feeding them tuna fish meat?

Avoid giving your dog tuna with their regular dry food because you don’t want them to get in the habit of expecting it daily.

If your dog likes tuna fish then only let them eat it as a treat once in a while and make sure you give it to them away from their dog food, so they don’t start to expect it with their meals all the time.

Some dogs are picky eaters and will only eat their kibble if it has been mixed with something soft, try to stick to soft dog food for this instead of canned tuna so your dog can still get all of its nutritional needs. 

As a snack (that isn’t consumed daily) cooked tuna fish meat doesn’t serve a risk to your dog’s health because they don’t end up consuming enough fish within a few bites to worry about mercury. 

This snack should always be a small portion (a few bite-size pieces) so the mercury levels stay low in their system. 

If your dog consumes only a little bit of fish then it will not be enough for the mercury levels in the fish to affect them, this means that tuna in small quantities is completely safe for your pooch.

Vets still haven’t been able to determine just how much tuna is the right amount to feed your dog so always use caution when figuring out your portion size and keep it on the smaller side.

Every dog’s stomach capacity is different as well (a chihuahua can’t eat nearly the same amount as a german shepherd) which makes it especially difficult for vets to figure out just how much tuna is the right amount for each dog.

What About Puppies?

During their first year of life, dogs do so much growing, so it is very important that you only feed them what your vet recommends.

Most vets will recommend that you only feed them puppy formula because it has all the nutritional properties that your puppy needs to grow into a healthy dog.

Since a young puppy is so small you don’t want to risk getting them sick over a treat before their body is fully developed.

Table scraps and foods prepared for humans should be avoided during a puppy’s first year of life, especially tuna fish.

Since your puppy’s body is still very small it has a higher chance of being affected by mercury poisoning making it all too risky to feed your puppy any tuna. 

It is the best decision to play it safe and avoid feeding your puppy any type of fish or seafood that isn’t already in their commercial brand food to avoid getting them sick.

Those little puppy bodies need only the best ingredients as they grow into dogs.

Final Thoughts

Tuna fish meat has a lot of nutritional benefits that can even be great for our canine friends, but it has one big health risk attached to it as well that can make it hard to determine whether or not you should allow your dog to eat tuna at all.

When it comes to deciding if tuna fish is okay for dogs to eat, we need to look at it from the same point of view as a parent would determine if their child can have a slice of cake or not. 

Yes, it is okay for a child to have a slice of cake at a special event because a little bit doesn’t cause any harm and makes the child feel happy.

Sometimes a parent will give their child a slice of cake as a reward for good behavior, you can apply this same method when it comes to giving your dog some of your tuna.

What’s not healthy is to feed a child cake every morning for breakfast because it is way too much sugar for their little bodies to have daily, think of mercury in fish the same way a parent looks at sugar for their children.

You can safely feed your dog a few bites of plainly cooked tuna fish as long as you only do it once in a while so they don’t consume very much mercury. 

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