Dr. Travis McDermott
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
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).


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