Dr Tracy Douglas
Your guide to this article today is by veterinarian Dr Tracy Douglas Dr Tracy Douglas
Published 13:40 pm

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 diarrhoea. Tuna appears to be a good option in such cases as it could fulfil 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 provide 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 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 acquire a healthy coat which is bereft of inflammations and itch, 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 are 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

Controversial that tuna is for both humans as also 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 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.

Dr Tracy Douglas
General Practice Veterinarian, currently working at the Glenwood Veterinary Clinic, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Dr. Douglas began her veterinary career as a Veterinary Nurse in Highton Veterinary Clinic, Highton Victoria, and then as an Emergency Veterinarian in Uintah Pet Emergency, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy is particularly interested in surgery, neurology and internal medicine, which gives her a well-rounded knowledge on animal health and well-being. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Melbourne, while her undergraduate bachelor of science is from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.


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