Can dogs eat tuna?

Updated 29 May 2024
Read time: 5 mins
article author
Written by Corinne Homer
article author
Reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon
Team Vet

Yes - dogs can eat tuna, but only in moderation. Tuna is a nutrient-rich fish, full of essential fatty acids and good amounts of protein, however, it can contain more harmful mercury than other fish, particularly when canned. In this article, we’ll answer all your questions about whether your dog can eat tuna. 

Is tuna good for dogs?

In small amounts, tuna can be a healthy treat for a dog. As an oily fish, it contains lots of beneficial omega-3, among other nutrients - however, there are other nutritious fish that are safer for a dog to eat regularly. 

What are the health benefits?

Let’s go into some of the health benefits of tuna: 

  • High in omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a dog’s body - they contribute to a healthy coat and skin, a boosted immune system, improved heart and brain health, and can reduce inflammation. 
  • Good source of protein. Protein is a vital nutrient for muscle development, repair and growth. 
  • Vitamins B12, selenium and niacin. Important for metabolising energy, boosting the immune system, and improving skin health and nerve function.

Can puppies eat tuna?

Sometimes, depending on the type of tuna. It’s okay to feed puppies tuna in small amounts if you stick to Skipjack tuna, which has lower mercury levels. Albacore tuna tends to have higher mercury and should be avoided, as your puppy could be at risk from mercury poisoning. If you want to feed fish to a puppy, mackerel or salmon are generally safer options - and are still super tasty.

When is tuna unsafe for dogs?

Tuna is unsafe for dogs in large amounts, and should only be deemed a treat to be fed occasionally. Of course, it’s also unsafe if it’s spoiled or out of date, or if your pooch has an allergy. Canned tuna is only safe for dogs when it comes in spring water - the kind soaked in brine or oils should be avoided.

Can dogs be allergic to tuna?

Dogs can have an allergy to tuna. Introduce a small amount of tuna to your dog, and if they have any of the following reactions, don’t feed it to your pooch again:

  • Reddening skin, itching or a rash 
  • Swelling 
  • Breathing issues (wheezing, etc.) 
  • Severe or extended sickness or diarrhoea
  • Bloating, stomach pain
  • General change in behaviour (low energy, lethargic, etc.)
  • Ear infections

Can tuna make dogs sick?

Tuna has higher levels of mercury than other fish, so though it contains a lot of nutrients that benefit dogs, it’s not safe enough to have as a regular food in their diet. Mercury poisoning can make a dog very sick, leading to kidney damage or in severe cases, blindness - and it can even be lethal to puppies. 

If your pooch gets mercury poisoning, they may show the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy, unusually low energy
  • Tremors 
  • Difficulty walking

Spoiled tuna, or tuna that is soaked in brine or flavourings can also make a dog sick - they might also get sick as an allergic reaction to tuna. If your pooch shows any adverse reaction to tuna, it’s a good idea to take them to a vet. 

How to safely give tuna to your dog?

Tuna is safest when fed in a small amount as an occasional treat. Feed either fresh tuna that has been cooked and served plain, or a small amount of tinned tuna that comes in spring water. 

What types of tuna can dogs eat?

Let’s go into more detail over the kinds of tuna safest for a dog’s snack… 

Can dogs eat tinned tuna?

Tinned tuna is perhaps the most common tuna to exist in human homes, so it makes sense if you’ve wondered whether your hungry pooch can have some. This depends what the tuna comes served in:

X Tuna in sunflower oil - No. Sunflower oil adds a lot of unnecessary fat to a portion of tuna and puts pooches at a higher risk of a stomach upset and pancreatitis.

X Tuna in brine - No. Brine is much too high in sodium to feed to a dog, so avoid tuna that has been soaked in it.

Tuna in spring water - Yes, this is the safest way for your pooch to get a bite of tuna, but again, make sure it’s only fed as a treat, not a regular part of your dog’s meal rotation. 

Can dogs eat tuna steak?

Only feed your dog a small amount of tuna steak if it has been cooked plain without any added salt, sauces or flavourings. Though it will contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein, tuna steak may still contain mercury, so should be fed to dogs only very occasionally. 

Can dogs eat tuna pasta?

No - it’s best to avoid pasta with tuna. Pasta is a very starchy carbohydrate with little nutritional benefit to a dog, while tuna should only be fed plain as an occasional treat. 

Can dogs eat tuna mayo?

Avoid feeding your dog anything mixed with mayonnaise. Though some plain tuna in spring water is fine as a treat for a dog, tuna mayo has much too high a fat content and is very calorific for a pooch. 


Tuna is, in general, safe for a dog - it contains essential omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and protein. However, due to its high mercury levels, it should be fed in small amounts as an occasional treat for dogs - not included as part of their regular diet. Ideally, there are other fish options that are safer.

If you give your dog some tuna, make sure it’s either cooked tuna steak, served plain; or tinned tuna served in spring water, not brine or oil. 

What other foods can dogs safely eat?

If you want to feed your pooch a nutrient-rich fish, there are other tasty options that are safer than tuna. 

  • Salmon, another oily fish rich in protein and omega-3. 
  • Mackerel, another nutritious fish full of essential fatty acids.
  • Dog food with cod, for fishy goodness that is gentle on digestion.
  • Salmon Oil for Dogs can be drizzled over a dog’s regular food for a condensed shot of omega-3 and 6.  

If you’re looking for healthy and nutritious food for your dog, Pooch & Mutt’s grain-free dog food and healthy snacks for dogs are made with natural, whole ingredients and a host of veggies and supplements.  

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