Most dogs want to eat whatever we're eating, no matter what it is. Whether it is a juicy beefsteak tomato or a juicy beef steak, your dog wants to help you finish it. Vets generally do not recommend feeding table scraps to dogs, but some foods are fine to give every once in a while as a treat.. Tomatoes are among these, as long as owners understand the risks.
Tomatoes are in the nightshade family of vegetables, which means the plants contain a few components that are harmful to certain animals, including solanine. Solanine, a substance found in the stem and leaves of the tomato and related plants, is harmful to dogs in large quantities. Luckily for dogs that enjoy the occasional tomato, solanine is mostly concentrated in the green parts of the tomato plant. The leaves, stems, and young, green tomatoes contain higher amounts of solanine than ripe fruit, which means that ripe tomatoes are generally safe to feed to dogs. This is still problematic for those of us who keep a tomato plant in the garden, as we have to worry about our dogs eating green tomatoes or chewing on the stem and leaves.
If your dog has consumed the green parts of a tomato plant, watch him carefully for signs of tomatine poisoning. Clinical signs of too much tomatine include:
- Gastrointestinal (GI) upset
- Cardiac effects
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle weakness
The good news is that these symptoms are rare, and the prognosis for dogs with tomatine poisoning is generally good. Call your vet if your dog exhibits these signs, as they can be a symptom of other serious health problems in addition to tomatine consumption.
So, can dogs eat tomatoes? The answer is both yes and no. Ripe tomatoes are considered nontoxic to dogs and can be fed in moderation as an occasional snack. Unripe tomatoes and tomato plants, on the other hand, should be avoided. It is probably a good idea to keep dogs away from tomato plants, either by fencing off your garden area or by supervising your dog carefully in the garden. Both your dog and your tomatoes will thank you.
Check out these links for more information about fruits and vegetables that dogs can and cannot eat.