Dogs often want to eat whatever humans eat, no matter what it is. Whether it’s chocolate, avocados, or a juicy steak, your pup likely wants to eat everything—but that doesn’t mean they should.
So what about tomatoes? Well, it depends.
Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
The answer is yes and no. Dogs can eat tomatoes but only in small amounts. Ripe tomatoes are considered nontoxic to dogs and can be fed in moderation as an occasional snack.
While it’s considered safe for dogs to eat red, ripe tomatoes, the plants themselves are part of the nightshade family of vegetables (which also include potatoes, bell peppers, and blueberries). There are toxins in tomato plants that can harm your dog.
Solanine and its cousin tomatine are toxins found mostly in the green parts of the tomato plant. That means that your dog should never ingest the leaves and stems of tomato plants and should avoid young, green tomatoes. Ingesting an unripe (green) tomato or any of the green parts of the tomato can lead to symptoms of tomatine poisoning.
What is Tomatine Poisoning?
Since tomatoes contain trace amounts of toxins, ingesting a large amount of them can lead to something known as tomatine poisoning, otherwise known as tomato poisoning. That said, the likelihood of dogs consuming a large enough amount of the tomato plant to cause series injury is incredibly slim. But for small breeds and puppies, a smaller amount of tomato can cause poisoning due to their small size, so it’s important to be vigilant.
Tomatine Poisoning Symptoms to Look For:
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle weakness
- Dilated pupils
- Abdominal pain
- Cardiac effects (arrhythmia, irregular heartbeats)
- Gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea, vomiting)
Thankfully, tomatine poisoning is rare in dogs and usually isn’t fatal. Most dogs that have experienced tomatine poisoning fully recover.
Veterinarians can do a full physical examination of your dog and do blood work or an ECG to diagnose tomato poisoning. If dogs have tomatine poisoning, veterinarians may induce vomiting or monitor them.
Some dogs may show an allergic reaction to tomatoes. This is also rare, but symptoms can include hives, coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
If you think your canine companion has eaten a large amount of tomatoes or the tomato plant itself, call your veterinarian for guidance. Sometimes these symptoms can be a sign of other series health conditions beyond tomatine poisoning, so it’s important to get them checked out as soon as possible in case things turn serious.
Are Tomatoes Good for Dogs?
Ripe tomatoes are non-toxic, so they aren’t poisonous to dogs. In fact, the many health benefits that tomatoes offer is why they are often included as an ingredient in pet food.
Tomatoes have a lot of fiber, which helps support your dog’s digestion. They also have antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K, as well as folate (vitamin B9), which helps with tissue growth and cell function.
How to Safely Share Tomatoes with Dogs
While dogs can eat tomatoes, sharing too much with them can upset their stomach because of the acidity. Tomatoes are like any other treat—they should be consumed in moderation under supervision.
Start with small amounts of tomato to see how your dog reacts. But make sure the tomatoes are prepared correctly. Remove all of the green parts and dice the flesh to make them easier to eat.
Just because your dog can eat tomatoes doesn’t mean they can ingest tomato-based foods. The tomato sauce on your pizza or spaghetti likely contains additional ingredients like garlic and onions, which can also cause gastrointestinal distress.
How to Prevent Dogs from Ingesting Too Many Tomatoes
It’s important to keep dogs away from the many treasures your garden holds—tomatoes included.
If you have a garden at home, keep it fenced off so dogs don’t have access to it and won’t be tempted to sample the produce. If you grow tomatoes inside, keep them somewhere out of reach of dogs (not on the table or counter) and where they can’t be easily knocked over. And always keep an eye on your pup while you’re cooking with tomatoes to make sure that they’re not helping themselves while you’re not looking.