The sheer scent of seafood is more than enough to pique the interest of your curious little pups.
Noses twitch, tails stand to attention, tummies growl and their puppy dog eyes illuminate whenever they can sense that fish is on the menu.
This fin-tastic saltwater treat is enriched with high levels of protein and omega-3, which are great for your pet’s health, but does tuna fall, or swim, into this category?
The answer, while not resounding, is generally ‘no’, though some experts would suggest that it’s harmless to your four-legged friend if given in moderation.
However, excessive consumption of the ‘long-life’ fish can be dangerous to your dog due to its high levels of mercury and the added risk of poisoning.
What do you need to know about feeding your dog tuna or raw fish?
- Be aware of mercury poisoning in large quantities. Overfeeding your furry family friend any type of food can be detrimental to their health and wellbeing, but too much tuna can have serious repercussions. Although tuna is considered a rich source of nutrients, their habitats are polluted with industrial pollutants, including heavy metals such as mercury, that contaminate their tissues over their lifetime. You should contact your vet immediately if your dog experiences any adverse reactions such as tremors or loss of coordination, hair loss or even loss of sight.
- Choking hazards. Dog bones are a great way to keep your playful pups entertained, but you’ll want to keep them away from fish bones at all costs. They’re notorious for posing a choking risk to dogs and, when ingested, can cause microscopic lacerations to the digestive tract. If pet parents make the decision to add tuna to their dog’s food bowl, then we recommend that you check meticulously for any threatening pieces of bone beforehand.
- Beware of bacteria. Raw fish is completely unsafe for our happy yappers. Extra care should be given when preparing fish for human consumption and your four-legged friends deserve the same courtesy. Raw fish of any kind can be contaminated with parasites or bacteria, like salmonella, that can make your dog very ill. Serving sushi should never be an option as it also exposes your pets to an enzyme known as thiaminase, which limits the absorption of vitamin B1.
- High salt concentration. Tuna has a high salt content, which is why some experts would advise against feeding your cute canines that specific type of fish. Moderation, again, is key to minimising the risk of excessive salt intake, which can be harmful to your dog. Also, avoid any additional seasoning, such as pepper, oil or butter, as your dog’s palate will appreciate the taste without the extra flavourings.
- Canned tuna. When feeding your pet canned tuna, in infrequent measures, try to choose the version that’s stored in fresh water, rather than oil or salted water options. Tuna is rich in protein, minerals and vitamins – all important nutrients for a dog’s health and wellbeing. However, some dogs may have an intolerance to fish, so just be careful with portion sizes. If they have a reaction, pay your vet a visit immediately.
Should I include tuna in my dog’s diet?
There are always pros and cons when it comes to trying to formulate a perfectly balanced diet for your four-legged fur baby. While raw fish is certainly off the menu, there is no reason why you can’t treat your dog to a little bit of tuna in their food bowl every now and then. Tuna is safely used as an ingredient in many balanced dog foods, which are packed with mouth-watering, nutritional goodness, harnessing health of the skin, coat and cardiovascular system.
Short-life fish – such as whitefish, herring, walleye, flounder, arctic char and salmon – are, without doubt, safer for consumption, but long-life fish, including tuna, can offer many health benefits to properly prepare your pet for a fun-filled life.