By Dr. Travis McDermott
Last Updated April 13, 2021

A direct reply to this question would be yes, dogs can indeed have tuna fish. However, any dog owner or specialist would also go a step beyond and add certain pre-requisites to this answer.

Such a question usually pops up when dog owners are in search of a reliable source of protein for their canine companions. Usually, dog food brands in supermarkets mention lamb, poultry, and sometimes even wild boar as sources of protein. While this might temporarily suffice, it is just a matter of time before people start exploring natural options and this is where tuna comes in.

dog eating tuna in bowl

Another reason could be that some dogs do not take well to poultry-based protein and as a result, might suffer from indigestion or diarrhea. Tuna appears to be a good option in such cases as it could fulfill the protein requirements of your dog.

That being said, whether or not tuna suits your dog depends on how you serve and how much you serve.

Do Dogs Benefit From Consuming Tuna?

Dogs can derive multiple benefits from tuna, primary among which are discussed as follows:

  • One of the primary reasons why dog owners consider including tuna in their dog’s diet is because of its protein content. When you feed your dog tuna, not only do you enable it to gain in terms of lean protein but also provides protection against unwanted fat.
  • While eating tuna, your dog also consumes a plethora of essential minerals like phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium to name a few.
  • Since tuna is also naturally enriched with a number of members of the vitamin family, like B3, B6, B12, and so on, your dog would stand to benefit in terms of a stronger immune system.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids present in tuna help your canine maintain a healthy coat that is relieved from inflammations and itching, promotes better eyesight, and a healthier heart.
  • Muscular growth is extremely important for dogs and this is what tuna facilitates.

How to Serve Tuna to Your Dog

You can buy tuna in a number of forms, namely cooked, raw or canned, and each carries its own unique attributes.

If you intend to serve cooked tuna to your dog, then buy it in form of steaks and use baking or broiling as the method of cooking. Skip all the seasonings, even salt, and do make it a point to removed bones from the meat in case there is some present. Unlike human beings, dogs love bland meat and would relish every bite and like children, they are ill-equipped to handle fish bones and are likely to choke.

Canned tuna is a good option in case you are not much into cooking, but you must ensure that it is packed in water and is completely devoid of any kind of seasoning or garnish. It is common for tuna to be packed in oil as well as contain additives and spices, so this is something that you need to be wary of.

Serving raw tuna could be an option only when the fish has been thoroughly washed and cleared of bones.

Quantity of Tuna to Be Served To Your Dog

Its numerous health benefits notwithstanding, tuna cannot be treated as regular food for your dog and should be served only once in a while. When it is served, care should be taken to ensure that the size of the portion is minimal.

dog with bowl of tuna

Much of this caution is owing to the high percentage of sodium and mercury, both of which have been proven as being harmful to canine health. While sodium has been known to induce vomiting and seizure, mercury causes slow poisoning and severe health complications in the long run.

Initially, you must introduce a small portion and remain vigilant about your dog’s physiological reaction. If there is an allergy or any other health issue, it is likely to be evident within the first 24 hours, after which you can decide on an appropriate course of action.

Final Word

While tuna may be a controversial choice for both humans and dogs, this fish could benefit both if eaten in moderation.  Tuna, being a bigger fish than most, tends to eat smaller fish in its habitat which in turn may contain traces of unhealthy metals, especially mercury. This is why long-living tuna, may have a high percentage of mercury.

So, while choosing tuna for your dog, you must opt for one which has had a short life, is not wrapped in seasoning, and contains as few bones as possible.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Dr. Travis McDermott is a small animal veterinarian that has been practicing for nearly 15 years in Las Vegas, NV. Dr. McDermott was born and raised in the great State of Texas and grew up on an emu farm raising chickens and pigs for 4H and FFA. He attended Texas A&M University for both undergraduate and DVM studies.After graduation in 2006, Dr. Travis McDermott started practicing at Tropicana Animal Hospital in Las Vegas, NV. In 2012, he took over as hospital director of Durango Animal Hospital – one of the largest veterinary hospitals in Las Vegas. Dr. McDermott treats dogs and cats as well pretty much any exotic animal that walks in the door. His interests include surgery, dental procedures, and ultrasound, but his main passion is endoscopy. Since becoming a veterinarian, Dr. McDermott has served as a board member and president/chair of both the Nevada Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association Political Action Committee and currently serves on the board of the Viticus Group (formerly Western Veterinary Conference).

14 COMMENTS

  1. Tanya E Jackson

    I just moved to Washington from Nevada and my huskey / bordercoly has become depressed ,wont eat or drink much, very closed off so I looked up my dog and the symptoms of what she was showing and one of the things that was a good thing to do was make food for her with omega -3 ,vegetables, pultry, organ meats,lamb. So I was wondering if I could give her portions of tuna to help with the omega-3 so I’m going to try small portions as well as he cooked meal portions with vegetables and meats recommended.

  2. i have a shi tzu who:is a very fussy eater, i know i should wait until he is hungry but this could go on for days so recently i have been giving him canned tuna. in spring water he loves it and i mix it with his normal food. i know i should not give him too much however he loves it and does not show any/signs of problems of any kind

    How do:i get him to eat normally his own dog food which he sniffs and turns away from?

    any advice would be super He is a normal weight and his vet says he is very healthy except for a dry skin

  3. My 7 year old German Shepherd is showin joint stiffness in his back legs after getting up from a laying down position….. would given him tuna in water help him

  4. Hi just wanted to thank you for the article and info. I found this through googling about the safety of tuna for dogs because my canned dog food order is a day late and my pup is picky about when he eats his wet food and dry food haha. Luckily I have a can of plain tuna in water to tide over his pickiness! Thanks again.

  5. is albacore good for dogs?

  6. I give all 3 pitts a spoonful every morning and evening!! But that is it!! Will that harm then???

  7. This information still did not give a guide to how much tuna you can give a dog. Is a teaspoonful a day OK. This is how I give my dog his meds.

  8. My almost 14 year old Westipoo has arthritis in his legs. He also has fatty capsules all around his body. He loves to take walks and keeps track of me as I move about the house. He sleeps a great deal which I believe is probably age related. I would like to give him some canned Bumble Bee solid white albacore as a change in his diet which is usually cooked ground beef burgers and sweet potatoes and peas. Is it safe to feed him the canned albacore now and then. Thank you for any help you can give me. He is a wonderful Westie Poo, sweet and loving, and his name is Derby. ( Was rescued 11 years ago on Kentucky Derby Day)

  9. Thank you for your the good info my Pomerainon has been having problems I think his trachea is causing him problems he coughs and seems to be sore in neck and stomach

  10. So, do you add it to the food or give alone, and how much for a 14 lb dog?

  11. Thank you very helpful!!

  12. i give my dogs tuna 1x weekly packed in water with their night time dog food. salmon (not farm raised) 1xweekly and split a small can so they get 2-3 oz and get 1/3 cup for my small 9-10 lb, dog and 1/2 cup dry dog food to my 19lb dog. in the morning they get a scrambled egg each with a tiny bit of cheddar or colby cheese maybe 2teaspoon each. they 11 and 12 years old and very healthy. Their dog food is a grain free pea free dog food i have used for my dogs going on 35 years. THEY ALWAYS STAY TRIM AND HAPPY. THIS dog food was one of the first dog foods to be sold privately and still remain on 2 lists from 2 university dog journals. My first 2 dogs lived to be 17 and 18 yrs old; AND WERE “weeiner dogs”.

  13. This is helpful. My dachshund (12.5 lbs.)
    is allergic to feathered sources, which eliminates all treats and most food. I have made his food for 14 years. I mix the tuna with beans, broccoli, spinach, his treats are veggies. I was wondering if you could recommend a quantity mixture. Ratios would work!
    Thanks so much for your help in advance!
    Sandi

  14. susan d schubert

    I dissolve canned tuna in water and spoon it over dry dog food. My dogs love it and never tire of the taste.

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