Can Dogs Eat Tuna?
Tuna is one of the most popular seafood in the world and is extremely nutritious. Tuna provides a great source of vitamins, like vitamin B12 which is essential for the creation of DNA and anemia prevention. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids help reduce cholesterol and the risks of cardiovascular diseases. Tuna is lean meat, which is especially beneficial to support weight loss due to its decreased levels of calories.
Some seafood is great for dogs, but what about tuna? Is canned tuna just as good as fileted fresh caught tuna? And how safe can we feel if our beloved furry friend eats tuna on accident?
Feeding Your Dog Tuna
Tuna can be good for dogs in moderation. Like everything tasty, moderation is key. Tuna contains many vitamins and minerals that are essential for a dog’s physical well-being. On the other hand, if tuna isn’t properly prepared or eaten in strict moderation, it could cause problems or pose threats to your dog’s health.
Overall, if your dog eats a little bit of tuna they’ll be ok, but other fish could benefit your dog more. Too much tuna can create drastic and expensive health issues for your cherished pet.
Protein is paramount in a dog’s diet, and tuna is a profound source of it. The amino acids eaten by dogs come from protein which develops healthy fur and skin. The high levels of proteins are main avenues for a dog’s strong muscles and overall healthy immune system. Fish is one of the best places for dogs to receive their protein, next to other meats like chicken, beef, duck, and pork.
Tuna is a lean fish that is low in trans fats. These “bad” fats come with an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. Furthermore, dogs can have a hard time digesting trans fats. This is why we shouldn’t feed meat fat to our dogs. The good news is, half a fillet of tuna contains 43 grams of proteins compared to a measly 2 grams of fat.
Omega fatty acids found in tuna help with the creation of hormones in dogs that regulate blood flow. Since omega-3 isn’t created naturally in a dog’s body, it has to be supplemented through fish, like tuna, shellfish, or flaxseed.
Omega-3 can be found over the counter in tablet form as an extra supplement as well. Why opt for a pill when this nutrient can be given to dogs in a tasty fish they will appreciate? Omega-3 is considered one of the good types of fat that help support brain and eye development for puppies and reduce inflammation caused by arthritis in elderly dogs.
There is a downside to the overindulgence of Omega-3s, however. While these vitamins are considered to be generally safe, high doses could cause side effects that result in diarrhea, vomiting, flaky skin, and nasty fish-like doggy breath. These are fatty acids, after all, and dogs have a sensitivity to too much fat in their diet. Excessively feeding dogs tuna could result in pancreatitis if these early symptoms are ignored.
Fish bones from tuna can cause a choking hazard for dogs. If the bones make it past the esophagus, the tiny sharp ends could lacerate the fragile tissues in the digestive tract. As you can imagine, this could be extremely painful for them to endure. These bones could get stuck along the way, which can cause serious gastrointestinal issues.
If the bones puncture the organs or obstruct the course of digestion, they will need to immediately be taken to an emergency veterinarian for treatment. Home diagnosis could be easy to do. If they swallow sharp bones, their appetites will decrease, and they will be unable to get comfortable. Some dogs develop a fever or may wince or growl when touched on the stomach.
Tuna contains higher levels of mercury than most other types of fish. Mercury is a pollutant found in our oceans that is consumed by fish. Since tuna are fish that can live long lives in the ocean, they absorb higher concentrations of mercury than other fish.
Consuming too many fish with high mercury content could have poisonous results. In the long run, mercury poisoning can manifest itself as kidney damage, blindness, and hair loss in dogs. However, very small portions and sparse feedings of tuna won’t carry a significant risk of mercury poisoning.
Tuna are saltwater fish, after all. Too much salt intake for dogs can cause water retention. Even in humans, overly ingesting salt can be toxic. Our dogs’ bodies work similarly, except their bodies are much smaller than ours.
If they eat too much tuna, their cells will increase fluid intake to compensate for the increased sodium. Once salt intake becomes too much and develops toxicity, they could begin vomiting, tremoring, and experiencing seizures. Excessive salt intake could also lead to more critical ramifications, like hypertension, heart disease, and kidney failure.
If you feed your dog canned or packaged tuna, you should opt for the version that comes packaged in fresh water instead of salted water. Ultimately, your dog will be happier and healthier if they consume fresh, cooked, filleted tuna.
Dogs should never be fed raw tuna. Always thoroughly prepare tuna by washing and cooking them at an approved temperature before offering it to your dog. Many humans have a sensitivity to uncooked or undercooked tuna as well, which is why we use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of our meats. This same precaution should be used for our dog’s food.
All raw fish could be contaminated with harmful bacteria like salmonella or listeria. These pathogens can make your dog and other members of your family extremely sick with food poisoning. Food poisoning can be evident with vomiting and reduced appetite, and could even rear neurological symptoms like tremors, lack of coordination, and collapsing.
Moreover, dogs with salmonella could experience scarier symptoms, like miscarriage, and gastroenteritis. There are over 2,000 types of salmonella, and age can be a risk factor for dogs. Younger and elderly dogs have underdeveloped or deteriorating immune systems which can make prevention and healing more difficult.
What Else Can Your Dog Eat?
All dogs deserve a treat now and then. Dogs’ appetites are versatile, meaning they can eat most veggies, fruits, and many eatables in between. Like tuna, dogs can eat most seafood just fine. This includes shellfish like crab and lobster, which are also high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Dogs can eat fruits and vegetables also, which are high in antioxidants. For example, dogs can have strawberries, blueberries, melons, spinach, kale, broccoli, and green beans. Speaking of beans, dogs can have all sorts of them. This includes beans like garbanzo beans, black beans, and kidney beans.
Dogs are also big fans of nuts. Healthy nuts for dogs include peanuts, cashews, and pistachios. Nuts are eaten best in a softer form, like peanut butter. This eliminates the risk of choking or obstruction.
Conclusively, dogs can indulge in many of our food groups along with us. Their bodies are smaller and leaner, so their digestive systems are a little more sensitive than ours. It matters greatly how food is prepared and shared.
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