As we already covered in a previous article, including fish in your dog’s diet can be beneficial to them in more ways than one. However, not all fish are the same when it comes to your dog, and this is a sensitive subject that needs a well-rounded answer.
And since you’re here on this page, you’re probably looking for an answer about whether you can feed your dog some of that tuna fish you have.
Can Dogs Have Tuna ?
The short answer is YES, dogs can safely eat tuna fish.
But, what can start off as a perfect supplement to your dog’s diet can quickly turn into a health hazard, if your dog eats too much of tuna and eats it in all the wrong forms that are available.
How Can Dogs Eat Tuna ?
When it comes to dogs, they can perfectly handle both forms of tuna fish, cooked or raw.
But, if you’re going to feed your dog raw tuna fish, make sure to remove all the bones at first.
If you decide to feed your dog canned tuna, make sure that it’s packed in water and not oil. Canned tuna packed in oil will just add so much useless calories to your dog’s diet that will lead to obesity and the inflammation of your dog’s pancreas, which would require immediate surgery.
Moreover, any canned tuna that has added flavorings, such as spices, should be kept as far away from your dog as possible, as dogs can’t properly digest spices and they pose a health hazard.
You also NEVER want to feed your dog tuna that’s prepared with onion or garlic, as these two are very toxic and dangerous for dogs.
How Much Tuna Can Dogs Eat ?
Given that tuna contains much higher mercury levels than other fish around, it should only be fed to your dog in very minimal amounts and on rare occasions.
Canned tuna also contains very high sodium levels, and sodium can be deadly to dogs if consumed in large enough amounts, which is another reason you should only feed your dog tuna on rare occasions and in very small amounts.
As should be the case with any new food introduced to your dog’s diet, keep careful track of your dog’s short-term reactions after they eat tuna for the first time, to make sure your dog can handle eating tuna with no repercussions.
Some dogs are allergic to tuna, other dogs will show problematic signs due to the high protein content in the tuna, while other dogs will become very gassy due to the high levels of fat (that’s if you feed your dog canned tuna which was packed in olive oil, which you shouldn’t).
Slice the tuna fish into very small pieces and feed your dog 1-2 pieces every now and then as part of one of their meals or as a plain and simple treat, that would be just fine.
Why Is Tuna Good For Dogs ?
Here are some reasons why tuna is good for dogs:
– It’s an excellent source of lean protein (which is very important in helping with muscle growth), which means it has very little levels of fat, and we all know the health catastrophes fat can cause in dogs
– Rich in essential minerals for dogs, such as selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium
– Rich in essential vitamins for dogs, such as vitamins B3, B6 and B12
– Contains a high level of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which are very beneficial for cardiovascular health, reduce inflammations in the body, help improve dog skin condition and reduce itchiness, decrease arrhythmia, and regulate cholesterol levels for the better, reduce the risk of blood clots, and improve dog eyesight (just to name a few benefits).
Types of Fish That Are Safe for Dogs
Some of the fish most commonly found in dog foods as the main protein include ocean whitefish, lake whitefish, herring, walleye, flounder, Arctic char and salmon pike. You can also steam, bake or grill these types of fish at home for your dog, just keep in mind that seasonings, like salt and pepper, and greasing options, like butter, oil and oil sprays, should be avoided. When feeding your dog a piece of fish (or any at-home-prepared protein), keep it plain and simple, remember to buy boneless fillets and inspect the fish before and after cooking to be sure no bones were missed.
The Health Benefits of Eating Fish
If you stick to the list of shorter-lived fish and cook them properly, fish can be a sustaining, healthy meal for your dog. “Fish is an excellent source of protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have health benefits like decreasing inflammation,” Hohenhaus said. Additionally, fish-based foods may also be a good option for dogs with food allergies.
“Fish is not commonly in standard dog food and provides an alternative protein source to beef, chicken and turkey,” Hohenhaus said. Just read the label of your dog’s food carefully to be sure that it doesn’t contain other protein sources (those labeled as “fish recipe” or “fish formula” may also have other protein sources in them). “If your dog has allergies and your veterinarian recommends a homemade fish diet, be sure to follow the recipe exactly or you risk causing nutritional deficiencies,” she added. “For a long-term home cooked diet, you may want to have a recipe made by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.”
If your dog loves the taste of fish, let him gobble up all of the healthy benefits like omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but don’t forget about the other nutrients he needs like vitamins and antioxidants. “Dogs need more than just fish – they need a complete and balanced diet,” Hohenhaus said. “Any food you choose for your dog (fish-based or otherwise) should have the AAFCO label indicating the diet is complete and balanced for your dog’s life stage.”