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Tuna, as with most seafood, has a reputation for being incredibly tasty. The fish is also remarkably nutritious.
But tuna isn’t only a favorite for humans. Most meat-eating pets like cats and dogs love the fish too. In fact, some dogs are known to favor tuna over beef, pork, and even poultry.
But as a caring pet parent, you’d want to find out whether tuna is really safe for your dog before sharing the fish with them. And that brings us back to our focus question, can dogs eat tuna?
Read on for everything there is to know concerning dogs and tuna.
Can Dogs Eat Tuna?
Tuna is a staple ingredient in many commercial dog foods. So, there’s a high chance that your canine companion has consumed the fish multiple times.
Tuna is high in animal protein. Protein happens to be the primary nutrient (besides water) that a dog’s diet should have. The fish is also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, compounds associated with a range of health benefits. There’s a host of other nutrients in tuna that could benefit your dog in various ways.
However, dogs should only eat tuna in small quantities and as a rare snack. The fish should never become part of your dog’s staple diet.
Tuna presents the same risks to dogs as most seafood. The main ones include exposure to heavy metals like mercury and risks of bacterial infections, the latter of which is common in dogs eating raw tuna.
More About Tuna
Tuna is a type of saltwater fish that belongs to the Scombridae family. Mackerel is another famous fish in the same family.
Tuna is classified in the Thunnini tribe of the Scombridae family. The tribe comprises fifteen species spread across five genera. These species differ significantly in their physical size and personality.
What Nutrients Does Tuna Provide?
Tuna is jam-packed with nutrients. The fish’s nutritional profile mainly depends on how it’s served.
For instance, canned tuna oil comprises 60% water, 29% protein, and 8% fat. The oil contains no carbohydrates and provides around 200 calories in a 100-gram serving.
Canned tuna oil is also high in other useful nutrients.
A 100-gram serving provides up to 45% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin D as well as considerable amounts of choline and vitamin A equivalents. A similar serving portion contains 44% of the RDI of phosphorus, 11% of the RDI of iron, and 9% of the RDI of both magnesium and zinc. You also get decent amounts of potassium and calcium.
When Can Tuna Be Useful To Dogs?
1. Tuna Is High in Protein
Tuna is remarkably high in animal protein. As we’ve already hinted, protein is an essential nutrient in canine diets.
Protein is most noted for its role in promoting the healthy development of muscles, bones, tissues, and hair (or in this case, fur). The nutrient is also involved in various metabolic reactions.
2. Tuna Is Rich in Healthy Fats
It’s almost impossible to discuss the health benefits of tuna or seafood in general without referencing omega-3 fatty acids.
Tuna is especially rich in a type of omega-3 fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These compounds constitute the main structural components of an animal’s brain, skin, and retina. In other words, feeding tuna to dogs might support his cognitive function while also promoting skin and eye health.
3. Tuna Is Low in Calories
Tuna is among the high-protein, low-calorie foods that you can safely incorporate into your dog’s diet.
The combination of high proteins and low calories may offer weight loss benefits by increasing the sensations of fullness while reducing food cravings.
4. Tuna Provides Tons of Other Benefits
Other potential benefits of tuna for dogs depend on the specific nutrient in question.
For instance, vitamin D is involved in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, two minerals required for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Vitamin A can support your dog’s vision while choline may help regulate memory, mood, and muscle functions.
Magnesium is involved in maintaining blood pressure. The mineral plays a key role in minimizing the risks of heart and cardiovascular diseases.
Lastly, iron is involved in energy synthesis and various gastrointestinal processes, whereas zinc boosts immune functions and aids wound healing.
When Can Tuna Be Dangerous To Dogs
Tuna can be dangerous to dogs if fed to them more frequently and in excess.
The main problem with tuna is the often-high content of heavy metals like mercury. Mercury can be toxic to your pooch if consumed in excess. Tell-tale signs of mercury poisoning in dogs include hair loss, tremors & seizures, diminished coordination, hypersalivation, and vision problems.
Tuna may also present risks of bacterial infections in dogs. That’s especially if served raw. Raw tuna harbors numerous bacteria, including salmonella, campylobacter, and Clostridium perfringens. Ingesting these organisms can trigger gastroenteritis or food poisoning in dogs. Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal pain, nausea, and inappetence.
There are also choking risks resulting from ingesting bones. Besides asphyxiating your dog, tuna bones may tear through the animal’s gut, causing pain and intestinal bleeding.
Other issues with tuna for dogs depends on how the food is prepared. For instance, canned tuna is high in water and may help keep your dog hydrated. But as with most canned foods, canned tuna may contain excess salt and spices, neither of which dogs should consume.
Tuna can be incredibly beneficial to dogs. But that’s only if it’s carefully prepared and properly served.
The best way to prepare tuna for dogs is to start by going for species known to contain minimal mercury levels, such as skipjack tuna. Then, proceed to debone the fish. The next step is to cook tuna steak in plain water without adding a significant amount of fat, salt, and spices.
Most importantly, serve tuna to your pooch only as an occasional snack.