Tomatoes are popular fruits that are high in nutrients, including Vitamin C and beta-carotene. They make a delicious snack and can be eaten raw or cooked. For humans, they provide multiple health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. But do the benefits of eating these juicy delicacies apply to our pooches as well? Can dogs eat tomatoes too?
There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about whether or not dogs can eat tomatoes. So are these juicy, red fruits actually safe for your dog? The short answer is yes; your dog can safely eat tomatoes as long as they don’t eat too much. Although rare in dogs, tomatoes can cause poisoning when consumed in large quantities as these plants contain tomatine and solanine that can be harmful to animals. Foliage and unripe tomatoes are especially dangerous because they contain a higher amount of tomatine and solanine. This means that the only safe way to feed your dog tomatoes is to feed them ripe ones that are free of stems and leaves and only let them have some as an occasional snack.
Why Are Tomatoes Dangerous?
Tomatoes belong in the nightshade family. Nightshades, or the Solanaceae, are a family of flowering plants, many of which are highly toxic. The family consists of many different plants, such as potatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tobacco. These plants are known for having a diverse range of potent alkaloids. Alkaloids are nitrogenous organic substances produced by plants that can have an intense psychological action on animals even at low doses. Some of the main types of alkaloids in nightshades include Solanine, Tropanes, Nicotine, and Capsaicin, all of which can be dangerous for animals.
Tomatoes are a part of the nightshade family and are one of many nightshades that are used as food. However, like their nightshade cousins, tomatoes also contain some components that can be harmful to certain animals. Their stem, leaves, and green, unripe fruit contain small amounts of the alkaloids tomatine and solanine. Consequently, using tomato leaves in herbal tea is believed to have caused at least one human death.
Both the alkaloids have shown acute poisoning symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, confusion, and depression. While there has been no formal study about the risks of tomatine for humans, there are many examples of solanine poisoning that have even led to a few deaths.
How Can Tomatoes Be Bad for Dogs?
While poisoning from eating tomatoes is quite rare in dogs, the possibility isn’t zero. Solanine in small amounts isn’t lethal, but it can lead to tomato poisoning if consumed in large quantities. Unripe tomatoes and the green parts of the plant contain higher quantities of solanine, thereby increasing the risk of poisoning.
If your dog has consumed the green parts of a tomato plant, watch out for signs of poisoning. Common symptoms of tomato poisoning include:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Cardiac effects
- Tremors and seizures
- Loss of appetite
How Can Tomatoes Be Good for Dogs?
Although dangerous in large amounts, tomatoes are actually quite good for dogs if given in small amounts and when ripe. The health benefits provided by various components in tomatoes are as follows:
- Lycopene, the most abundant carotenoid in ripe tomatoes, provides sun protection and a reduced risk of cancer. It also strengthens the immune system.
- Vitamin A decreases eye-related problems and provides better vision.
- Vitamin C is good for the skin and coat.
- Potassium reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels and maintains your dog’s nerve health.
- Iron and Potassium help with healthy blood circulation, promote heart health, and manage diabetes.
Things to Be Careful About When Feeding Tomatoes to Your Dog
Tomato poisoning in dogs is a cause of major concern for dog owners with tomato gardens. If you’re one of them, make sure your garden is fenced and always keep your dog away from it. Although the symptoms of tomato poisoning in dogs are rare, if your dog has eaten some, stay alert and observe for a few hours. If your dog shows any symptoms of poisoning, call your vet, as it can also be symptoms of other serious health problems.
There is also the risk that your dog may be allergic to tomatoes. Severe allergic reactions can lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially deadly condition. If you see potential signs of an allergy, like itchy skin or digestive disturbances, don’t give your dog any more tomatoes and contact your vet right away.
If your dog is very small, very young, or very old, you’re going to have to exercise extra caution as they are more susceptible to poisoning. In this case, be extremely wary of what your dog eats and how they react to it. Call your vet for advice immediately if they show any symptoms of allergies and/or poisoning.
Can Dogs Have Tomato Products?
So, dogs can eat tomatoes in moderation. But does that mean you can feed them tomato-based products too? Not really.
Tomato products like sauces, soups, or juices may be adulterated and can contain salt, sugar, artificial flavors, and other harmful ingredients. As a result, they’re not particularly healthy and it’s always better to keep them away from your pup. Ingredients that are commonly added to sauces like garlic and onion can also give your dog an upset stomach so try to avoid them as much as possible. Similarly, jars or canned tomato sauces and soups tend to contain additives so keep them away from your dog.
How Can You Feed Tomatoes to Your Dog?
All sorts of animals love ripe tomatoes, especially squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, raccoons, deer, and birds. Your dog may be no different. If you understand the risks and still want to let your furry buddy try out a tomato, here’s some advice for you.
For lower risk of tomatine poisoning, always feed your dog only ripe, red tomatoes. Remember to wash them thoroughly, even if they’re organic. This removes residue pesticides and microorganisms that may bring harm. Cut off the green parts and serve fresh without additives like salt. Cooking and cutting/mashing the fruit can also help feed tomatoes to your dog, especially if it’s they’re not used to it.
If it’s your dog’s first time trying a sweet, umami-packed tomato, start with a few slices. If there is no change in their stool and no allergic reactions, give them more the next time. If your pooch is still a pup, wait for them to mature as growing dogs tend to have difficulties digesting tomatoes as properly as adult dogs.
Some Other Frequently Asked Questions
- Can Dogs Eat Tomato Sauce?
There’s always the risk that tomato products contain sugar, salt, and other additives that can be detrimental to your pooch’s digestive system and overall health. So, it’s better to avoid giving them tomato sauce unless you’re sure about the product’s ingredients. The best kind of sauces to give your pup are the ones that are low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals.
- Can Dogs Eat Grape Tomatoes?
As long as they’re red and ripe, varieties of tomatoes like grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes are safe for canine consumption. However, just like tomatoes, moderation is key and feeding your dog too much can be harmful.
- Can Dogs Eat Green Tomatoes?
It is highly risky to feed your dog green tomatoes as these unripe fruits contain higher amounts of solanine than when they’re ripe. This means that green tomatoes pose a higher risk of poisoning in dogs, making it quite unsafe to feed some to your pooch.
- Can Dogs Eat Tomato Paste?
We recommend that you do not feed tomato paste to your dog as pastes are highly processed and can be very concentrated in sugar and salt. The high-fat content in tomato pastes can also contribute to obesity and the sugar can lead to diabetes. The possible presence of garlic and onion makes the product even more of a possible hazard for canines.
- Can Dogs Eat Sun-Dried Tomatoes?
Sun-dried tomatoes are basically dehydrated tomatoes. They are high in dietary fiber, making them the perfect food for dogs with sensitive stomachs. So as long as it’s not in large quantities, sun-dried tomatoes aren’t bad for your dog and they can have some directly from the jar. Make sure that the tomatoes used are finely chopped and remember to check the ingredients for anything that may harm your dog.
- Can Dogs Eat Canned Tomatoes?
Canned tomatoes tend to be high in sodium, which can quickly lead to dehydration in your dog. In some severe cases, salt poisoning is also a risk. So most people like to avoid feeding their pups canned tomatoes.
- Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes Raw?
It is recommended that you do not feed raw tomatoes to your dog. It’s best if you boil tomatoes before serving them to your pooch. Not only does this make it healthier, but also makes it easier to digest for your pup. Boiling after thoroughly washing the tomatoes also helps remove any harmful components like dirt and pesticides.
So can dogs eat tomatoes? Yes, but it’s important to know what the limitations are. Remember: moderation is key and your vet’s advice is absolute when it comes to feeding your dog food that you’re not sure if it’s safe for them. Tomatoes contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds. Adding these juicy delights to your dog’s diet could contribute positively to your dog’s better health. Just make sure they don’t overeat. Feed your dog only ripe tomatoes in controlled amounts, and nothing terrible will happen.
Want to find out other foods that may be potentially harmful for your buddy and know why? Visit our website for more articles on dogs like this one.