Salmon and tuna can be either healthy protein sources or dubious health risks -- it depends on how much you feed your pup and in what forms. Fresh or canned, cooked or uncooked -- all these factors play into whether salmon and tuna are good for your dog.
Benefits of Tuna
Tuna is a very lean protein source, and it's high in many minerals healthy for your dog, including selenium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Tuna is also a good source of vitamins B3, B6 and B12. Tuna contains omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health. If you feed your dog canned tuna, the ASPCA recommends giving him tuna packed in water to avoid added fat.
Drawbacks of Tuna
Tuna is high in mercury compared with many other fish. That's why you should feed it to your dog only as an occasional treat. Tuna steak contains more mercury than canned tuna; canned white albacore has more mercury than chunked light or white canned tuna. Canned tuna is high in sodium, another reason your dog should eat it only occasionally. Too much salt causes pancreatitis, and dogs that are thirsty from salty food may gulp water, which can lead to stomach bloat and twisting, a condition that's fatal without immediate surgery.
Benefits of Cooked Salmon
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and healthy fats, especially in the skin. Meanwhile, the bones in canned salmon provide calcium and are easy for dogs to eat. Salmon contains magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin A, B vitamins, and vitamin D. The FDA considers salmon, especially wild salmon, a low-mercury fish. Canned salmon is considered to have lower mercury than fresh or frozen salmon. Cook fresh or frozen salmon to an interior temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to make it safe for your dog to consume.
Salmon Poisoning Disease
Never feed your dog raw salmon; it could make him fatally ill. Dogs are the only species susceptible to catching salmon poisoning disease from eating raw salmon. SPD is caused by a parasite within a parasite: Many salmon carry the parasite Nanophyetus salmincola; which can become infected with an organism called Neorickettsia helminthoeca, to cause a potentially fatal infection in dogs. Symptoms of SPD may develop four to seven days after eating the infected fish and include vomiting, lost appetite, fever, diarrhea, weakness, swollen lymph nodes and dehydration. If a dog infected with SPD doesn't receive treatment he will most likely die within two weeks of eating raw salmon. About 90 percent of dogs that show signs of SPD die from the disease if they don't receive treatment.
- ASPCA: Can Dogs Eat Canned Tuna Juice?
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Salmon Poisoning Disease
- Sleeping Dog Studio: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center -- Poisonous Foods & Plants for Dogs
- FDA: What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish
- FDA: Fresh and Frozen Seafood: Selecting and Serving it Safely
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data For 15184, Fish, Tuna, Light, Canned in Water, Without Salt, Drained Solids
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data for 15260, Fish, Salmon, Pink, Canned, Drained Solids
Madeline Masters works as a dog walker and professional writer. In the past she has worked as a fitness columnist, fundraising copywriter and news reporter. Masters won two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Awards in 2009. She graduated from Elizabethtown College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.