As you’re browsing the dog food selection at your local pet store, you’ve probably noticed how many different ingredients are used in dog food. Lamb, fish, wild boar, duck, and bison are just a few of the protein sources tucked inside premium dog food brands. With such a variety, it leaves you wondering what kind of natural protein sources are good for your dog. If you’ve been considering a fish-based source of protein to treat your dog with on occasion, feeding your dog tuna has most likely crossed your mind.
Is Tuna Safe for Dogs?
Fish is a great source of protein for dogs with finicky digestive systems. Many dog food blends for sensitive stomachs are made with fish because it’s easy to digest and unlikely to cause any digestive upset. While you probably don’t have fancier fish like mackerel or salmon on hand at any given time, you might have canned tuna in your pantry. Canned tuna is safe for dogs as long as it doesn’t have any additional seasonings, particularly onions and garlic, and it isn’t canned in oil. Oil found in canned tuna can cause unpleasant stomach upset in dogs, while onions and garlic are toxic to dogs. Canned varieties of tuna are okay to feed to your dog on occasion, but because of the high levels of mercury and sodium, it’s best kept as a rare treat.
Tuna steaks are also fine, but they should be cooked thoroughly. You can never be too sure about how well tuna fish has been stored prior to your purchase, and undercooked fish could cause a major bout of diarrhea, vomiting or worse, parasites.
Health Benefits of Feeding Tuna to Dogs
Fish has a lot of health benefits to carnivorous animals such as dogs. Fish, including tuna, is full of omega-3 fatty acids. These types of fat (fish oils) are incredibly good for the skin, coat, and especially the heart. They prevent irregular heart rhythms, blood clots, and improve cholesterol levels. A dog with a genetic predisposition to heart conditions benefits greatly from healthy doses of omega-3 fatty acids, as can dogs with a current heart condition. Of course, a heart condition shouldn’t be treated with diet alone, but a good diet will help keep a dog healthy as they live with a heart condition.
How Much Tuna is Too Much for Dogs?
Moderation is the key to balanced health, and that goes for dogs, too. If you’ve decided to give your dog tuna, don’t go overboard with it. Remember that canned tuna has high amounts of sodium, and dogs don’t need very much sodium to have a nutritionally sound diet. Too much salt can cause pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas. Salt will also dehydrate your dog, causing them to significantly increase their water intake. It’s rare, but sometimes when a dog gulps water, their stomach can bloat with air and then twist. This condition is known as gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), or bloat, and it’s deadly if it isn’t treated surgically.
The Best Way to Feed Tuna to Your Dog
If you decide to give your dog tuna as a treat, keep it simple. Canned tuna should be canned in water with no additional seasonings. Don’t give them a lot of the juice from the can; skipping it altogether is best. If you buy tuna steaks and choose to cook them yourself, you don’t need to season them. Dogs find meat delicious even if you think it might be bland. Skip salt, garlic, oil, or marinades on the fish and either bake or broil it. Don’t ever give your dog fish that still have the bones in it. While they won’t choke as easily as a child would, the bones can still get lodged in their throat.
Flaky fish will get stuck in the teeth, too, so if you don’t care for the overwhelming fish smell that will linger, give your dog some dry kibble or a biscuit to help scrape the leftover fish out of their teeth.
Whatever kind of fish you choose to feed your dog, be sure you talk to your veterinarian before you start doling it out. While most kinds are safe such as tuna, there are always reasons to avoid certain foods depending on your dog’s health status. If your vet gives you the go-ahead, watch how you prepare your dog’s fish and watch them reap the benefits of their new treat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should Dogs Eat Tuna Mixed with Mayo?
Tuna is perfectly fine for dogs to have occasionally, but should you share your tuna salad with your pup? Mayonnaise isn’t dangerous to dogs, however, it is high in fat, so if you do give your dog anything with mayo in it, you should do so sparingly to prevent weight gain. Otherwise, as long as your tuna doesn’t have onions or garlic, a few bites of tuna and mayo won’t harm your dog.
Should I Mix Canned Tuna in My Dog’s Food?
If your dog is eating a commercially prepared kibble, they won’t need anything added to their food for a well-balanced diet. Adding tuna to their dog food a few times a month won’t create any problems nutritionally, but it should always be tuna canned in water as the oil is too fatty. If your dog has to go on a bland diet after a bout of stomach upset, you can mix canned tuna (in water) to boiled rice for an easy-to-prepare bland diet.
Hi, I’m Jacob. I’ve been a professional blogger for over 6 years and in that time I’ve written countless blogs that have reached millions of people. I am a DVM by profession but all you need to know is that I LOVE DOGS!
SDO started way back in 2015 on a whim. I’d read a couple of dozen blogs online while searching for the best products for my pup and the amount of misinformation online from unqualified sources giving potentially harmful advice shocked me. Then suddenly it hit me, hey, I can do this too! And I can do this RIGHT! Without even knowing what a blog was or how it makes money. I jumped right in to share the years of knowledge I have of dogs with the world.
Within a few months I realized that people were reacting extremely positively to my blogs. My website had taken off and I would receive countless emails from happy dog owners telling me how my website was a God-send for them and their pups were doing so much better after they followed my advice. I would get so many questions as well, and in my attempt to consolidate and answer all the questions I would get from my readers, my blog has evolved to the website you see today. Over the years I encouraged my good friend Tina who is also a DVM to share her experiences and better guide the people who read us. By the Grace of God we now reach close a million people a year and we get such a warm feedback on how we have made life easier for new dog owners all over the globe.
As a dog owner only you would know the feeling you get when you come home at night and you pup is there at the door wagging their tail in sheer joy. The bond a person and their dog share can not be explained in mere words. Yet dogs are like children, and they need to be cared for and trained, and that’s why Smart Dog Owner exists, to give you the precise and exact information that you seek about your dog. No matter how minute that detail is, chances are we will be there to help you out! As someone who has raised 7 of her own dogs. Jacob will always help you out.