Are you asking yourself, Can dogs eat tuna? While tuna is a delicious food to eat occasionally, it is not suitable for dogs. Unfortunately, many dog owners do not know what side effects their canine companions will experience after eating tuna. Some owners don’t know why or think it’s okay to feed their dog a little bit of tuna now and again.
Dogs are carnivores, not pescatarians. They need the nutrients, like protein and taurine, found in meat, so make sure that fish isn’t the mainstay of your dog’s diet. Fish can contain mercury that can harm your dog if ingested, as well as contain high sodium levels and other concerning ingredients.
This article will answer whether dogs can eat tuna and explore some of the related concerns to help you avoid mercury poisoning from canned tuna, raw tuna, or tuna in dog food. Also, we will review what fish you should feed them instead.
Can Dogs Eat Tuna?
Tuna is a species of saltwater fish that can grow up to 3 feet (1 m) long and weigh up to 400 pounds (180 kg). There are over 20 different tuna species, but the most popular ones include bluefin, bigeye, yellowtail, albacore, and skipjack. The primary sources of tuna include the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.
You’ve seen your dog eyeing the can of tuna that you are snacking on. Well, their eyes are going wild because they want to share your lunch. Tuna has high protein and omega-3 fatty acids, making it a favorite food for many cats. But unfortunately, dogs should not be eating tuna or any product which contains it. This is because the fish or other products could lead to several different health problems for your dog.
Fish and tuna are popular additions to pet foods because of their nutritional value and taste. There is a wide variety of canned fish available in pet stores that range from oily fish, like salmon, to meaty white fish, like herring. However, common canned types, such as tuna, have a high level of mercury that can make your dog very ill if ingested.
Whether raw tuna or canned tuna, tuna is a type of fish you should avoid feeding your pet, no matter how tempting it might be. Some dogs are allergic to tuna, just like some people are allergic to shellfish or peanuts. If you have a dog with a sensitive stomach or who seems to have trouble digesting food or swelling/irritation after eating, definitely avoid tuna!
Also, since tuna is a large fish that lives a long time feasting on other small fish, it builds up mercury in its system. Mercury is dangerous to dogs and should be avoided at all costs.
How Much Mercury is in Tuna?
In nature, mercury occurs naturally in rocks and soil. However, it can also be released into the atmosphere through natural events like volcanic eruptions and forest fires. When mercury enters the ocean, it is converted into methylmercury (a toxic substance). Also, methylmercury is a type of mercury that has made its way into the environment through pollution and industrial waste.
Small fish and shellfish then absorb this methylmercury. Larger fish consume many of these smaller fish and become contaminated as well. Tuna fish are considered predatory fish because they are at the top of their food chain. Therefore, they absorb mercury from all the other fish they eat. Mercury levels in tuna can vary based on the fish’s species, size, age, and how and where it was caught and processed.
The mercury content in tuna fish depends on the type of tuna and the part of the fish it comes from. Scientists use parts per million (ppm) to measure the level mercury; the higher the number, the more mercury on average. For instance, canned white albacore tuna is typically 0.32 parts per million (ppm), whereas canned light tuna and chunk light tuna generally are 0.12 ppm. Also, sushi-grade yellowfin tuna averages 0.35 ppm mercury, sushi-grade bigeye tuna is 0.45 ppm, and fresh bluefin tuna is 0.60 ppm. These numbers are very high compared to other types of fish like salmon, which typically averages around 0.014 ppm up to 0.086 ppm.
But, can dogs eat tuna? Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal that can severely affect the body’s organs and even cause death if not treated immediately. The mercury in tuna fish poses a health risk for you and your dog. Too much tuna consumption can cause mercury poisoning, which can have devastating effects on your dog’s nervous system.
What Is Mercury Poisoning in Dogs?
Mercury poisoning in dogs is a consequence of mercury toxicity in the body. Mercury poisoning may occur due to exposure to several forms of mercury, including elemental mercury, organic mercury, and inorganic mercury. To avoid mercury poisoning, you must say no to the question of can dogs eat tuna.
Toxicity from exposure to elemental mercury typically occurs via inhalation but can also arise from ingestion. Mercury vapors are toxic and irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Severe toxicity can damage the kidneys, brain, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and liver.
Organic mercury is found in fish that have been exposed to methylmercury (for example, tuna) and can cause toxicity when ingested. Inorganic mercury is a component of fungicides used on grains and other food crops and typically causes toxicity when eaten.
The most common source of mercury poisoning in animals is eating contaminated fish. Mercury is a naturally occurring element, but it is concentrated in certain types of fish. Also, fish absorb and retain mercury from contaminated water, sediment, and food. These include tuna, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. In addition to eating contaminated fish, dogs can be exposed to toxic levels of mercury by drinking contaminated water or breathing in toxic fumes from an industrial spill or another source.
If there is still time for treatment before kidney damage occurs, your veterinarian will probably induce vomiting and give your dog medications to remove the excess mercury from his body. If renal failure has already happened and the effects of the poisoning are irreversible, your dog may need treatments like dialysis or kidney transplantation. Unfortunately, mercury poisoning can be fatal in dogs. There is no known antidote for mercury poisoning in dogs. However, if caught early enough, you can successfully treat the effects of mercury poisoning on your dog.
What Are the Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning in Dogs?
If your dog ingests mercury, she may experience mercury poisoning. Therefore, it’s essential to know the symptoms of mercury poisoning in dogs so you can act fast if you think your dog has been exposed to mercury.
The symptoms of mercury poisoning in dogs are diverse and can vary greatly depending on the amount of mercury your dog has ingested. The symptoms of mercury poisoning can also vary based on the type of exposure. If your dog breathes in mercury vapor, he may display signs like redness to the skin and eyes, a runny nose and eyes, coughing and sneezing, mouth ulcers, and vomiting. Suppose your dog ate something high in mercury like raw tuna or canned tuna. In that case, he may show signs like extreme drooling and vomiting (possibly with blood), diarrhea (maybe with blood), pain in his stomach or abdomen, bleeding from his gums or rectum, seizures, tremors or shaking, and kidney failure. Lastly, if your dog was injected with mercury through a wound or bite, he may show signs like fever and chills as well as local swelling at the injection site.
The symptoms may not show up immediately after ingestion and can take up to several weeks to be noticeable. However, some dogs may exhibit signs of sickness right away if they’re sensitive to the toxin. Other symptoms you want to be aware of include hair loss, anxiety or nervousness, blindness, kidney damage (inability to urinate, abdominal swelling), and loss of coordination.
It’s important to note that the symptoms of mercury poisoning in dogs may not be caused by mercury poisoning. Several conditions can cause similar symptoms. If you suspect that your dog may have a case of mercury poisoning, it is essential to act quickly to prevent any further exposure or complications.
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog and consider the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. Your veterinarian may recommend specific testing based on these findings and blood tests and other laboratory work that may help establish a diagnosis for mercury poisoning.
Treatment for mercury poisoning will vary depending on the severity of clinical signs and how long your dog has been affected by the toxin. Treatment may include fluid therapy via an intravenous catheter or subcutaneous injections, forced vomiting to expel the mercury, anti-vomiting medications, and other symptom-specific medications.
How Much Sodium Is in Canned Tuna?
Sodium in canned tuna is a controversial topic. Some people claim that sodium levels are so high that eating a can of tuna fish is like eating a bag of chips, while others say the sodium content is so low that it’s lovely to eat every day. The truth is somewhere in between these two extremes. Tuna fish is undoubtedly not as sodium-rich as chips and other salty snacks, but depending on the brand and type of tuna you buy, it can be higher in sodium than you might expect.
Tuna fish meat contains naturally occurring sodium, but it’s not very high in this mineral unless salt has been added during processing. The amount of sodium depends on the type of tuna prepared. Salt is added to canned tuna to increase the shelf life and flavor, so it’s best not to give your dog any tuna from a can or pouch.
While sodium in canned tuna isn’t toxic to most dogs, some kinds of canned tuna have high sodium levels, potentially leading to sodium ion poisoning. This could happen if your dog ate large amounts of this tuna and ate nothing else for a prolonged time. The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, and seizures. However, this kind of poisoning is rare because it would take much more than just a few spoonfuls of tuna for this toxicity to set in.
At a glance, tuna can seem like healthy food for dogs. It’s low in calories and fat and high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals. However, mercury and sodium present severe concerns for your dog’s health. But, that is not the only part to consider. You must also think about added ingredients that can harm your dog.
Are There Onion and Garlic Powder in Canned Tuna?
Many dog and pet owners know the age-old adage, don’t feed your dogs onions and garlic. There are many different types of canned tuna. This is because of the different species and whether they are packed in water or oil. Some brands also contain other ingredients, such as onions and garlic powder, which can be unhealthy for dogs.
The toxic principle in onions is N-propyl disulfide. When dogs eat onions, the red blood cells can become damaged. The damage is irreversible, and the symptoms may not be apparent until a few days after the onion consumption.
Onion poisoning can cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage resulting in hemolytic anemia (a breakdown of red blood cells). Dogs affected by onion toxicity can appear tired and weak with a reduced appetite. They may vomit and have diarrhea, which could contain blood. Severely affected dogs might have breathlessness and display an abnormal color to their urine (dark/red) due to red blood cells.
Garlic belongs to the Allium family (including onion, chives, and shallots). The toxic component of Allium plants is unknown but considered to be present in both the flesh and leaves of the plants. Garlic contains approximately 0.5% thiosulfate, an oxidant that can damage red blood cells and cause hemolytic anemia, methemoglobinemia, Heinz body formation, and oxidative tissue damage. Signs of toxicity can occur within hours after ingestion and last for several days.
If you’re considering giving your dog tuna, it’s essential to understand that tuna is dangerous for your dog and can also contain ingredients you may not expect that can harm your dog. If you want to feed your dog a fish to get the great nutrients in this animal, you should consider other fish that are low in mercury, sodium, and don’t contain other contaminants.
What Sort of Fish Is Safe for Dogs to Eat?
Dogs love the taste of fish, and it can be good for them. However, it’s essential to know how much fish is safe to feed your dog and how often. Some species are safer than others, but you should also know that not all fish is fresh enough to eat. The healthiest fish for dogs are wild-caught varieties rich in omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3s help prevent heart disease, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system, so your dog must have this nutrient in its diet.
Avoid giving your dog farm-raised fish as food because they tend to be higher in fat and lower in nutrients than wild-caught varieties. You should also avoid feeding your dog fish from the ocean that may contain heavy metals like mercury — these include tuna, mahi-mahi, orange roughy, tilefish, shark, and king mackerel.
You may be wondering if dogs can eat fish at all. After all, dogs are carnivores — they eat meat to get the nutrition they need. Fish is an excellent addition to their diet, but it shouldn’t replace meat as the primary source of protein in their diet.
Fish is an excellent addition to a healthy dog’s diet because it contains essential vitamins and nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which can help keep your dog’s coat shiny and skin healthy. Dogs need these nutrients just like humans do, so adding fish to their diet can help them grow strong and stay fit.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, linked to improvements in coat health, skin health, and joint health. Salmon is also a good source of protein and provides a variety of other nutrients, including B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and iron. In addition, it’s low in fat and sodium. Other safe fish for dogs include tilapia, whitefish, trout, herring, pollock, and sole. These fish are also low in mercury (which can make both humans and dogs sick) and sodium.
It would help if you always gave your dog fresh or frozen fish, not canned fish, which may contain too much salt. A good rule of thumb for feeding your dog a fish is to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly and deboned before serving it to your pet. If you’re unsure whether it’s safe for your dog or not, consult with your vet first!
Fish is one of the most common food allergens. If you suspect that your pet has a food allergy, consult your veterinarian before feeding anything other than a hypoallergenic diet.
Overall, you must pay close attention to the type of fish and the quantity of fish you feed your pet as a pet owner. This is because many fish or particular types of fish can lead to issues like sodium-ion and mercury poisoning. If your dog shows any symptoms of poisoning, consult your veterinarian immediately.