Can Dogs Eat Fish? What About Canned Tuna?

Before I owned a dog, I thought that dogs can eat anything. I use to go to dinner with friends in Asia and they would say that they are taking the leftovers back for their dogs. These would include fish bones, chicken bones, and left over food. This immediately made me think that dogs can eat fish, canned tuna, salmon, sardines, and pretty much anything related to seafood.

We wrote an article a while back on “Foods Your Dog Can and Can’t Eat”.

Until today, I still get asked often by my friends on can dogs eat fish or not? The most simple answer is yes, dogs can eat fish and canned tuna. Matter of fact dogs can absorb the nutrition in fish just like humans can.

Let’s briefly go over the nutrition value of fish. Almost every type of fish that you feed your dog will have the following:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These are the type of fats that are good for you and necessary for us to function.

One omega-3, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), nourishes brain and vision development in puppies, while another omega-3 fatty acid called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) helps support joint health in adult dogs. Since dogs cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids on their own, they must get them through their diet.

Because of this, it is important for your dog to get it elsewhere. Fish is a perfect type of food for that. Our most favorite type of fish to feed to our dogs is salmon. They’re jam packed with omega-3 fatty acids.


Protein is what we need to build muscles and repair them after a workout. They’re mostly found in meat or tofu and fish falls in this category.

Dogs can survive on a diet of either plant or animal origin if it is balanced and diverse. But to thrive and not merely survive, dogs should have a source of good and strong protein in their diets. This is very important.

A dog that doesn’t have enough protein could collapse and lose its strengths without you knowing. We don’t want that to happen!

Dogs are quite able to tolerate diets with protein levels higher than 30 percent on a dry weight basis. Dogs are meat eaters; that’s how nature made them! Just like wolves!

So what does this have to do with fish? Fish are packed with protein. It’s one of the foods out there that have the most protein for both humans and dogs. So, that should help you clarify on whether or not dogs can eat fish.

You shouldn’t feed your dog too much protein though. A dog diet with too much protein can actually damage the kidneys, so a tolerable amount is best.

Fish Oil mainly comes for the tissues of oily fish. The best locations to find these are cold-water, fatty fish. When it comes to the consumption of fish oil, your dog can get it from either the fish itself or from Omega-3 Fish Oil.

Related Read: The Ultimate Guide To Supplements For Your Dog

What about the risks of feeding my dog fish?

Just like humans, there are risks when you are feeding your dogs fish. This is why I said that the simple answer to, “can dogs eat fish” is yes, however, there’s more to it which includes risks.

Fish contains mercury

Probably the most common problem that most dog owners bring up about fish is that it contains mercury.

Mercury can be dangerous for your dog or any animal in general, however you can minimize the risk by feeding your dog with fish that contains lower mercury. FYI, a lot of dog foods contain a good amount of mercury as well. Refer to the picture below for fishes with lower merucry content.

mercury in fish

Fish bones can injure your dog

Just like humans, dogs can get injured or have small pieces of bones stuck in their digestive system. Dogs are actually pretty good at breaking down bones, so it won’t be as much as of an issue as it is with humans. It is still something to consider when feeding your dog with fish.

The best way to prevent this would be to feed your fish with “soft-boned” type of fish. A good example of this type of fish would be sardines. They have soft bones which make it easier for your pup to break it down. The only thing that you need to be careful with is the “backbone” which is thicker than usual. It could easily be removed though.

Can dogs eat canned fish like canned tuna and sardines?

Absolutely! Dogs can eat canned fish like tuna, sardines, and salmon, however you should be selective on the type of canned fish that you pick for your dog. You should pick the canned fish with the following:

  • Salt Free (not easy to find)
  • Wild caught (all natural)
  • Packed with water and not oil

A good tip is to check the sodium levels on the can before purchasing it for your dog. My favorite typed of canned fish for my dog is:

  • Canned salmon
  • Canned sardines
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned oyster 🙂

My dogs love them too!

More tips for dogs eating fish

One thing that you should take note is that if you’ve never fed your dog fish before, you should start slowly with smaller amounts so that they can adapt to it. We don’t want our dogs getting sick.

Slowly build up the amount to a point where they’re getting enough of it but not too much. Too much of any food can get your dog sick.

The general rule of thumb is to feed your dog with fish 2-3 times a week.

You can add in the following amounts, depending on your dog’s size:

Weight 4 oz can sardines

5 lbs

1/4 can per week

15 lbs

1/2 can per week

25 lbs

5/8 can per week

50 lbs

1 can per week

100 lbs

1 3/4 cans per week

Another tip is that if your dog has allergies related to seafood, then you should avoid fish completely.

My favorite fish for dogs

My favorite fish to feed my dog are salmons. I usually purchase canned salmons in bulk and have it ready for my dog as an alternative to traditional hard dog food. My dog loves them.

The brand that I go for is Wellness 95% Natural Wet Grain Free Canned SalmonIt’s natural and organic with 95% real salmon. Wet formula is a delicious way to add more protein and variety to any Wellness natural dry dog food.

Under the same brand you can select 95% chicken, lamb, turkey, or beef. This article talks about fish for dogs, so we’re going with the 95% salmon one.

It’s packed with protein, omega fats, and healthy minerals that your dog needs to grow and survive.

The brand itself is family owned and known for making organic dog foods. I subscribe to most of their dog food products and it’s quite affordable!

Anyways, I hope this article helped everyone and I hope it answers the question on whether or not your dog can eat fish. Please share it with your other dog owner friends and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!

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