Can Dogs Eat Tuna? Fish for Dogs

In my experience, cats are pickier eaters than dogs. But there’s nothing felines enjoy quite like a tin of tuna fish. Can this protein-packed snack also be shared with your living vacuum? Can dogs eat tuna? Today we will explore this question.


Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

Humans celebrate fish for its many health benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is also an ingredient in a number of commercial dog foods. But can dogs eat tuna fish? The answer to this question is mixed.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) states that dogs should not eat tuna. While other sources give tuna a green light, the AKC explains the reasons behind keeping tuna away from dogs.


Tuna Dangers for Dogs

The AKC advises against serving dogs tuna due to the high mercury levels of the fish. Mercury content is especially high in raw tuna, so dogs can never consume the fish raw.

Mercury poisoning, which occurs from eating too much mercury, could result in serious to fatal health issues. Therefore, people are supposed to limit how much tuna they consume based on how much they weigh. Since dogs weight just a fraction of what most humans do, they shouldn’t be gambling with their health by eating tuna.

However, tuna is not a toxic food item for dogs. This means that if your dog does sneak a few bites, she likely will be just fine. Mercury poisoning will not occur from a one time snack.


Mercury Poisoning 101

So what exactly is mercury poisoning? Unfortunately industrial activities lead to mercury getting into water sources. The mercury levels then accumulate in fish.

While smaller fish absorb relatively scarce mercury levels, the larger and more long-living fish accumulate a rather high amount of mercury. Since tuna fish are both long-living and large, they contain high mercury levels.

Fresh tuna therefore has much higher mercury levels compared to other popular fish, such as tilapia or salmon. This makes it dangerous to consume tuna in large quantities, especially when raw.

If you’re concerned about possible canine mercury poisoning, they are symptoms to be aware of. These include hair loss, blindness, anxiety, nervousness, kidney damage (stomach swelling, urination inability), loss of coordination, loss of feeling in paws, vomiting blood, tremors, and bloody or watery diarrhea.

Don’t hesitate to take your dog to the vet if you witness any of these symptoms in your furry friend.


What Fish Can Dogs Eat?

Since tuna isn’t toxic to dogs, you might find some sites recommending it as a snack. However, there are plenty of fish out there that will fuel your dog without the added health concerns. To stay safe, stick with these choices.

The good news is there are many fish that are good for dogs.  If you’re looking to pick out a fish for your dog, stick to the type that are already used in commercial dog foods. These fish have shorter lifespans and therefore absorb less toxic chemicals in a lifetime.

Such safe and healthy fish for dogs include salmon, herring, ocean whitefish, lake whitefish, flounder, Arctic char, and walleye. Another fish that is large and has a longer lifespan is swordfish. Therefore, like tuna, it has higher mercury and metal toxicity levels and should not be fed to dogs.


How is Fish Good for Dogs?

Lastly, let’s explore why you would consider serving your dog fish in the first place.

When served properly, fish is a great source of healthy protein for dogs. Fish also has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids provide heath benefits, including decreased inflammation.

Many pet owners serve fish to dogs with food allergies. It is a great alternative protein source for pups. Fish can also be a staple in a home-cooked dog diet. Just be sure to research healthy serving methods and consult your vet before frequently serving up fish to your dog.


Tuna Time

Let’s see what we’ve learned. Can dogs eat tuna? While this fish is not toxic for dogs, dogs shouldn’t eat tuna. Tuna fish contains high mercury levels that are dangerous for dogs. However, there are plenty of healthy fish options for dogs on the market. No need to fret the next time you’re looking for an alternative protein source.

To read about the effects of dogs eating other human foods, check out is cheese good for dogs. 

Emma Polini