Many dog foods contain fish because it is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. But can dogs eat tuna? The answer is no. You shouldn’t feed your canine companion the saltwater fish because it could lead to a number of different health problems.
Can Dogs Eat Raw or Canned Tuna?
Fresh tuna has much higher levels of mercury than other types of fish, such as salmon and tilapia. Consuming too much mercury can result in mercury poisoning, which can cause severe, or potentially fatal, health complications.
Mercury enters our lakes, rivers, and oceans through industrial activities like coal-fired electricity generation. The mercury then accumulates in fish. The larger the fish and the longer it lives, the higher the concentration of mercury in its tissues. Because tuna are large, long-living fish, their mercury levels are quite high.
Nonprofit organization Consumer Reports recommended that people limit their tuna consumption based on their weight. Because dogs are smaller than humans, and because there are no recommendations for how much tuna a pup can eat safely, it’s best not to feed tuna, whether raw or canned, to your dog at all.
What Fish Can I Safely Feed My Dog?
If you want to treat your canine companion to some fish, you should choose a type with lower mercury levels. The safest types of fresh fish are the ones most commonly used in commercial dog food. This includes salmon, whitefish, herring, flounder, and Arctic char.
What Do I Do If My Dog Accidentally Consumes Tuna?
Don’t fret too much if your dog manages to snag a small bit of tuna off your plate when you aren’t looking. Tuna is not inherently toxic to dogs, and a tiny amount will not cause mercury poisoning.
If you own both a dog and a cat, make sure your pup isn’t eating the feline’s food, as wet cat food often contains tuna. Cats are also susceptible to mercury poisoning, so consider choosing a cat food made with other kinds of fish. Still, keep an eye out for possible symptoms of mercury poisoning in your dog.
Mercury poisoning symptoms include:
- Hair loss
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Kidney damage (inability to urinate, abdominal swelling)
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of feeling in paws
- Vomiting blood
- Watery or bloody diarrhea
Here at the AKC, we field many queries from anxious dog owners about what is and isn’t safe for their canine companions to eat. Questions range from the obvious (“Can dogs eat cheese?”) to the trendy (“Can dogs eat quinoa?”) Check out more “Can dogs eat…” articles on AKC.org to see which foods are harmful to your dog.