Tomatoes are popular fruits/vegetables that are high in nutrients. But can dogs eat tomatoes? If that’s what you’re curious about, the answer is yes, but when fed in large quantities, there’s a risk of tomato poisoning. Foliage and unripe tomatoes are especially dangerous. Severe cases of poisoning or allergy can even lead to the death of your little buddy.
Always be careful of what your dog eats. Not everything edible for humans and/or other animals is safe for dogs, and tomatoes are one such example. So, as much as you love your dogs and consider them to be family, feeding them the same food as yourself is not a good idea all the time. The willingness to say “No” when your pooch shows you their cute puppy-dog eyes can sometimes make all the difference between a good owner and a nice owner. Let’s find out if tomatoes are something you should refuse to feed your little pooch.
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Nutritional Value of Tomatoes
A tomato is 95% water, and the rest 5% consists of carbs and fibers. A 100 gm of tomato approximately supplies:
|Vitamin A||42 µg (5% DV)|
|Vitamin C||14 mg (17% DV)|
|Potassium||237 mg (5% DV)|
µg – Microgram
%DV: Daily Value
Tomatoes also provide several other vitamins and minerals like Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, B3, and B6, Magnesium, Manganese, and Phosphorus. Similarly, besides lycopene, they also contain beta carotene, naringenin, and chlorogenic acid.
Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
In a nutshell, yes dogs can eat tomatoes. In fact, your dog can actually benefit from an occasional tomato snack. All sorts of animals love ripe tomatoes, especially squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, raccoons, deer, and birds. Your dog may be no different. But, there’s a catch. Dogs can have tomatoes, but only ripe ones, and in appropriate quantities. Overindulging in tomatoes will lead to gastrointestinal problems, vomiting, nausea, and the like. A severe allergic reaction can even lead to your dog’s death.
But before we start explaining why, you should know about the nightshade family of plants and what it has to do with tomatoes.
What Is the Nightshade Family?
Nightshades, or the Solanaceae, are a family of flowering plants, many of which are highly toxic. They’re 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, the plants contain some components that can be harmful to certain animals. Their leaves, stem, and green, unripe fruit contain small amounts of the alkaloids, tomatine and solanine. As a result, 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 death of a few.
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 bad, but it can lead to tomato poisoning if consumed in large quantities. Unripe tomatoes contain higher quantities of solanine, thereby increasing the risk 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?
Albeit dangerous in large amounts, if given in small amounts and when ripe, tomatoes are actually quite good for dogs. 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 skin and coat.
- Potassium reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels and maintains your dog’s nerve health.
- Along with iron, which helps with healthy blood circulation, potassium also promotes heart health and manages 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 keep your dog away from it. Although the symptoms of tomatine poisoning in dogs are rare, stay alert. If your dog shows any of the signs, call your vet immediately, 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 for instance, don’t give your dog tomatoes and contact your vet right away.
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 for your dog and it might be better to keep them away from your pup. However, small amounts of any tomato-based product aren’t likely to cause harm to your dog so giving your pooch tomato ketchup or sauce once in a while won’t hurt.
How Can You Feed Tomatoes to Your Dog?
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.
If it’s your dog’s first time trying a 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 there’s a chance that growing dogs may not digest tomatoes as properly as adult dogs.
Can dogs eat tomatoes? Yes, but it’s important to know what the limitations are. Tomatoes contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds that contribute to your dog’s better health. Feed your dog only ripe tomatoes in controlled amounts, and nothing terrible will happen. Remember to consult your vet before feeding your dog any human food.
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.