Can Dogs Eat Tuna in Oil? [Plus Better Alternatives]

tuna in a bowl

Dogs should not eat tuna oil as it may cause stomach problems, such as diarrhea. Even if you drain the oil before feeding the tuna to your dog, it will likely still cause an upset stomach. Canned tuna in water is a much better alternative and is unlikely to cause diarrhea. 

People eat tuna in many cultures and places all over the world as a staple food source. Whether it is purchased from a fish market or in the canned food section of your local store, prepackaged tuna is both accessible and affordable for just about anyone to buy. 

Since tuna is so easy to get and is fairly inexpensive, you might think that tuna would be a great meal for your dog. 

Is this the case? Is there anything you should be aware of before feeding tuna to your dog? Fortunately, we have the answers to these questions and more! 

You should be aware of a few things with tuna, so let’s start with the most fundamental facts first.

Types of Tuna 

There are many different types of tuna: over 20, in fact! 

However, five are considered safe for general consumption. They include: albacore, bluefin, bigeye, skipjack, and yellowfin. You can find these varieties of tuna at your local food stores.

How Tuna is Packaged and Preserved

Tuna can be packaged in a variety of ways. Tuna is not only sold fresh, but it can be sold in cans, as well.

Fresh tuna can be bought in many places, whether at a fish market, a health food store, or your local grocery store. 

Since fresh tuna doesn’t have the preservatives that allow for canned tuna to last an extended period of time, it should immediately be placed in your refrigerator or frozen for later use to keep it fresh and safe for consumption.

There are two primary ways tuna is preserved in a can: with water and with oil. Both methods keep the tuna from drying out and allow it to last longer.

Basic Tuna Nutritional Facts: Is it Safe For Dogs?

Because of the different ways it can be purchased, nutritional facts will vary based on the type of product you purchase. 

With this in mind, we can still get a baseline of what you can expect. In the average 6oz can of tuna served in unsalted water, you can expect:

  • Roughly 190 calories
  • About 1.5g of fat
  • Around 85mg of sodium
  • Over 40g of protein (wow!)

As you can see, canned tuna is an excellent source of protein! Combined with relatively low fat and sodium content and a reasonable number of calories, tuna makes for a great addition to you and your pup’s diet.

Tuna also has a lot of naturally occurring minerals that are beneficial to your dog’s health. A few essential minerals include iron, potassium, iodine, and magnesium. 

Many of these minerals, like iron, aren’t easy to come across, so this is another good reason tuna is healthy.

In addition to this, tuna is an excellent source of antioxidants. Having some tuna in your dog’s diet will help strengthen cells and repair damaged cells in their body.

Finally, tuna has omega-3 fatty acids. The simple reason this is a good thing is that it can help reduce cholesterol in blood vessels, a benefit that needs no further explanation. 

Omega-3 fatty acids also help with keeping your dog’s skin and fur healthy and smooth!

So… Can Your Dog Eat Tuna?

The short answer: Yes!

The slightly longer answer: Yes!… but there is something that you will need to keep in mind.

Canned Tuna Served in Oil = Not Good For Dogs

Canned tuna served in oil can cause your dog to have various stomach-related problems, like an upset stomach and diarrhea. 

Even draining the oil from oil-based canned tuna will not be enough to eliminate the effects of the oil, as it will already be deeply marinated in the tuna by the time you serve it to your dog.

You will also want to make sure you are avoiding canned tuna in water that is salted. Tuna naturally has some sodium. Further instances of added salt can be unhealthy for your dog. Having too much salt in their diet can lead to symptoms like dehydration, diarrhea, or vomiting. 

Canned, unsalted water tuna will have a reasonable amount of sodium that will be safe to feed your dog.

Fresh Tuna

Fresh tuna, naturally, should be thoroughly cooked before serving. This goes for both dogs and humans, as raw fish has various health risks from consumption. Eating raw fish can lead to you or your dog ingesting bacteria or parasites that the fish might be carrying. 

In addition to this, uncooked fish has an enzyme called thiaminase. Thiaminase can lead to thiamin, also known as vitamin B1, losing its effects. 

By cooking raw tuna, you are killing this enzyme and making it safe for consumption.

Do Not Feed Tuna to Puppies

Only adult dogs should eat tuna. Feeding your puppy tuna isn’t the best idea, as their little bodies are still developing and feeding them tuna can adversely affect their growth. 

You will want to feed your puppy a specialized, fixed diet during their first year, which your vet can assist you with.

Concerns About Mercury

Finally, you should know tuna has trace amounts of mercury. While tuna is fine to serve in moderation, keep in mind that feeding them excessive amounts of tuna can lead to mercury poisoning. 

Mercury poisoning can lead to any of the following symptoms:

  • General anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Fur loss
  • Kidney damage
  • Loss of feeling
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of eyesight

If you feed your dog tuna, keep in mind that albacore and skipjack tuna have the lowest mercury content of all types of tuna. 

Make sure your dog doesn’t eat too much tuna and this shouldn’t ever be an issue for them.

Tuna Will Help Increase Protein Intake

Outside of these caveats, though, tuna is an excellent way to increase your dog’s protein intake. Like any other food you feed your dog, be aware of the portion sizes you are providing them and avoid giving them tuna too frequently. Tuna is best served to your dog sparingly, like once or twice a week.

Other Types of Fish That Are Safe to Feed Your Dog

Are there any other types of fish that are safe for your dog to eat? Yes, there are! 

Naturally, you will want to prepare any uncooked fish by cooking them, but the following is a small list of fish all confirmed safe for a dog’s consumption.

  • Salmon
  • Ocean White Fish
  • Herring 
  • Walleye
  • Lake Whitefish
  • Flounder
  • Swordfish
  • Arctic Char

Canned Water Tuna = Safe

Tuna is an excellent food to feed your dog as long as you consider all the facts we’ve discussed prior. 

Since it’s an excellent source of protein, you will definitely want to consider feeding your dog a portion of canned water tuna once in a while for their dietary needs.Canned tuna is an affordable, easily portable food that you can feed your dog.

Avoid tuna served in oil, as it is not the healthiest thing you can provide your dog, and they will have issues processing the oils.

As long as you serve them tuna that is healthy and adequately prepared, tuna is an excellent food for your dog that is certainly going to be something they will love eating!

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