Homemade diets

Is Tuna Safe for Dogs?

Cristina Pascual
By Cristina Pascual, Veterinaria. Updated: January 29, 2024
Is Tuna Safe for Dogs?

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As long as it is consumed in the right quantity and form, tuna is a source of high-quality protein and unsaturated fatty acids for dogs. Although it is available both fresh and canned, not all forms of presentation are recommended for dog diets.

Continue reading this AnimalWised article to find out if dogs can eat fresh or canned tuna and what the benefits are.

  1. Is fresh tuna safe for dogs?
  2. Is canned tuna safe for dogs?
  3. Can puppies eat tuna?
  4. Benefits of tuna for dogs
  5. How to give tuna to a dog?

Is fresh tuna safe for dogs?

Yes, dogs can eat fresh tuna, but it should always be cooked properly.

Dogs should not eat raw tuna or any type of raw fish because it may be contaminated with parasites or bacteria that can make your dog very sick. Also, raw fish contains an enzyme called thiaminase that prevents the absorption of vitamin B1. However, when the fish is cooked, this enzyme is no longer dangerous.

You can cook tuna on the grill with a few drops of olive oil. However, before you give tuna to your dog, make sure that you meet the following requirements:

  • The tuna must be in good condition: If the tuna is in poor condition, your dog could suffer from histamine poisoning. Histamine is a breakdown product found in some fish like tuna. This component is not eliminated by heat. So even if we cook the fish, there is still a risk of poisoning. Therefore, the best way to prevent this poisoning is to make sure that the fish is fresh and in good condition.

  • Remove the bones: If bones remain hidden in the tuna, they could get stuck in the mouth or elsewhere in the digestive tract and cause a problem. To avoid this, remember to remove all bones before adding tuna to the ration.

If you want to learn more about other types of fish that are good for dogs, do not miss this other article where we discuss how to feed fish to a dog.

Is canned tuna safe for dogs?

Dogs can eat canned tuna in moderation. However, you should keep in mind that not all canned tuna is suitable for a dog's diet.

Ideally, you should choose the version that is canned in water instead of oil or salt water. Alternatively, if this version isn't available, you can give your dog canned tuna that has been preserved in olive or sunflower oil. You can add it directly to your dog's ration, but make sure you drain the oil first. You can add it directly to your dog's ration, but make sure you drain the oil or water first.

Also, do not mix canned tuna with dried dog food in the same serving. Home-cooked food and store-bought dog food require different digestive processes. You can learn more about this in this other article, where we explain why it is not a good idea to combine home-cooked food with store-bought dog food.

Can puppies eat tuna?

Although there are no studies to suggest that tuna may be dangerous to puppies, it is best to avoid it. In general, it is best to feed puppies special puppy food, as this food is designed to provide them with all the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins they need for growth and development. Also remember that tuna should only be offered in moderation. Given the small size of puppies, it is easier to misjudge the correct dosage of tuna.

If you want to learn more about the best diet for puppies, read this other article, where we talk about weaning and introducing solid food to puppies.

Benefits of tuna for dogs

Tuna is a blue fish that contains about 12% fat, which is why it is considered a fatty fish. This fat is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

It is also a fish with a high protein content and high biological value (23 grams of protein per 100 grams of tuna), which means that it provides a large amount of essential amino acids.

On the other hand, tuna is an important source of vitamins and minerals. Among vitamins, vitamin D and vitamins of the B group (especially B3, B6 and B12) stand out. Among minerals, on the other hand, selenium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and magnesium are particularly beneficial.

Continue reading this other article if you want to learn more about other omega-3 rich foods for dogs.

How to give tuna to a dog?

First of all, you should know that if you feed your dog exclusively commercial food, there is a good chance that this food already contains all the nutrients your dog needs. This is especially true if you offer your dog a food that is tailored to their age, breed, activity level and physiological condition. However, that does not mean you can not offer your dog something different from time to time. Let us take a look at the different scenarios in which you can give your dog tuna.

As a prize: You can safely offer your dog some tuna as a treat, as long as your dog does not have an aversion or other negative reaction to tuna. However, it is important that you do not do this too often to avoid mercury poisoning of your dog.

As part of a mixed or exclusively homemade diet: As mentioned earlier, it is also not advisable to mix tuna with your dog's regular food in one serving. If you want to get your dog used to a homemade diet, you should consult with your veterinarian and set up a plan in which you offer your dog commercial food on some days and homemade food on other days. You should know that dogs are not pure carnivores. Therefore, their diet should consist not only of protein foods, but also of foods rich in carbohydrates, fiber, etc. The main component, of course, must be protein of animal origin. As we have already mentioned, tuna is a good source of fat and protein that can be included in the diet of dogs.

Health considerations when feeding tuna to your dog

Remember that tuna is a high fat fish, which makes it a very high energy food. Therefore, if our dog is obese or suffers from a disease that promotes obesity, such as hypothyroidism, you should choose lean meat or fish (with less fat) such as chicken, turkey or white fish.

Tuna, like other large predatory fish, tend to store large amounts of mercury (especially methylmercury) in their bodies. Excessive consumption of this type of fish can lead to methylmercury poisoning, which usually causes neurological symptoms. For this reason, it is not recommended to include tuna in your dog's daily ration, but to alternate it with other protein sources.

Continue reading this other article if you want to know if tuna is safe for cats.

If you want to read similar articles to Is Tuna Safe for Dogs?, we recommend you visit our Homemade diets category.

  • European Federation of Pet Food Manufacturers. (2017). Nutritional Guides for complete and complementary foods for dogs and cats. Available at: https://www.colvet.es/sites/default/files/2017-03/Guias-Nutricionales-FEDIAF-es-2017_0.pdf
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. (sf) Nutritional characteristics of the main foods in our diet . Tuna (Thunnus thynnus).
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