If you’re a dog owner then you know what it’s like to have a dog stare you down while you enjoy your food at dinner time.
If that dog is at all like ours, it has nothing to do with how much you’ve fed him or how recently. It’s also more than likely that short of a strict veterinary warning, you find those wide eyes hard to resist. So, perhaps you’ve fed your dog the odd bit of human food. We certainly do.
But not all human foods are equally good for dogs. And since tuna is more commonly associated with that formidable canine nemesis, the cat, it’s natural you might find yourself wondering whether dogs can eat tuna.
The short answer is that no, you shouldn’t feed tuna to your dog due to its high mercury content. Keep reading if you want to go deeper than that!
As most dog owners will attest, dogs can eat anything they set their mind to. Shoes, watch straps, their breakfast, your breakfast – if it looks edible, it’s fair game. The better question is whether dogs should eat tuna.
Better still, we might ask, is tuna good for dogs? The answer is more complicated than you might think.
There are various benefits to be had from tuna, and if your dog has a taste for it, you might consider feeding your dog the occasional piece of tuna.
That’s because tuna is rich in:
But while aspects of tuna are good for dogs, the vitamin content isn’t your only consideration.
What the Vet Says
With apologies to dogs everywhere, this fishy treat is cats-only. While it’s true that tuna is a staple of various cat wet foods, it’s equally true that any dog food worth its salt does not list tuna in the ingredients.
So, the veterinary line is no; dogs can’t eat tuna. Can dogs eat raw tuna? That’s especially a no. Vets particularly stress avoiding raw tuna because compared with other fish, like salmon and salmon skin, or tilapia, raw tuna has high mercury levels.
Is Tuna Safe For Dogs?
That doesn’t mean you need to panic if Rover stages a coup and snatches a bit of tuna out of your salad nicoise. Tuna is non-toxic and safe for dogs.
Chances are, your ambitious canine thief will get all the benefits from tuna and none of the mercury. That’s not because mercury risk is lower than vets make out; It’s because the piece of tuna your dog gobbled was a small one.
When it comes to whether dogs can eat tuna, proportion plays a significant part in determining whether or not tuna is good for dogs.
Tuna gets its mercury from seawater. Everything from forest fires to pollution drives up those mercury levels, and they permeate small fish, which in turn get eaten by tuna.
Predictably enough, the size of the tuna impacts how much mercury gets absorbed by the fish. That, in turn, is why a stray piece of tuna once every blue moon probably won’t see you and Fido to the emergency vet clinic late on Sunday evening.
But if you’re the kind of indulgent human that wants to feed your dog a bit of whatever you’re eating, tuna is best avoided. Tuna isn’t good for dogs, and you’d be safer sticking with the types of fish best for dog food.
Additionally, if you’re a multi-animal household, make sure your dog isn’t eating the cat’s food as part of their ongoing rivalry. Cat food isn’t intended to be dog food and is full of fish and foodstuffs the average dog can’t eat, including tuna.
Can Dogs Eat Canned Tuna?
We’ve established that dogs cannot eat raw tuna. Not only is it high in mercury, but there’s a chance it may still be full of bones, which presents a choking risk.
Most people buy tuna in tins, making it natural to ask if dogs can eat canned tuna.
It’s also helpful to remember that tuna isn’t toxic to dogs. Mercury is, but dogs can eat small portions of well-washed tuna safely. And that’s exactly what canned tuna is if it’s been sitting in a tin of freshwater.
Can Dogs Eat Tuna in Olive Oil?
However, tuna in olive oil is a different story. Olive oil works as a laxative for dogs and cats. So, although on paper a tin of freshwater tuna sounds the same as oil-stored tuna, you can’t feed tuna in olive oil to dogs.
That’s because even when washed, it’s difficult to control how much oil stays on the tuna, and too much oil could lead to loose stools or diarrhea.
Can Dogs Eat Flavoured Tuna?
The question of whether or not dogs can eat tuna is complicated by the rising trend in flavored tuna.
The advice here is that while small portions of tuna are safe for dogs, you are best off avoiding flavored tuna.For instance, one of the most prevalent flavors in tuna is chili, and while it tastes good, it can cause all kinds of digestive issues in dogs.
These vary but can include:
They’re far from the kind of symptoms liable to send your dog to the vet, but they do guarantee an uncomfortable night for Rover.
Can Puppies Eat Tuna?
Finally, it’s worth stopping to ask whether puppies can eat tuna. We’ve talked about proportions and how that matters, but it’s especially relevant here.
Tuna is safe for full-grown dogs since they’re big enough for you to estimate how much tuna your dog can eat. Puppies are smaller, making judging how much is too much of a good thing significantly harder.
While few things are more irresistible than wide, puppy-eyes, the best practice is to stick to dog food. If you want to get indulgent, the web is full of lists of foods puppies can safely eat.
And if you have your heart set on your puppy reaping the benefits of tuna, it’s a taste they can grow into.
Can Dogs Have Tuna?
The bottom line is that while dogs can eat tuna, they probably shouldn’t. It’s higher in mercury levels than other fish, and with prolonged consumption, your dog risks mercury poisoning.
That said, as an occasional treat, tuna is non-toxic and safe for your dog to eat. But if you do decide to feed your dog tuna, opt for canned tuna over raw tuna, and avoid tins that use olive oil to store the fish. Your dog will thank you for it.