If you have a dog and like to eat tomatoes, you may wonder if tomatoes are suitable for dogs. Can you give your dog an occasional tomato without causing problems?
If you give your dog an occasional tomato, it will not be a problem. However, you must make sure that the tomato is really ripe. Green tomatoes and any parts of the tomato plant are poisonous to dogs. In general, however, some fruits and vegetables are better for dogs.
There is much conflicting information on whether tomatoes are suitable for dogs. In principle, there is nothing wrong with a ripe tomato for your dog occasionally.
However, there are healthier alternatives that pose fewer health risks to dogs. Among the more suitable vegetables are zucchini, squash, peppers, and sweet potatoes.
If possible, stick with these vegetables as they are generally considered dog-friendly. However, the occasional ripe tomato should also be safe for your dog.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether tomatoes have any health benefits for dogs, if and in what cases they are harmful, and how you can tell if a dog has tomato poisoning.
We also review which types of tomatoes are suitable for dogs and which are not.
Are Tomatoes Healthy for Dogs?
Many dogs like the taste of tomatoes as much as humans do. Both sweet cherry tomatoes and large, meaty ox-heart tomatoes can be a tasty dog snack. However, they must be ripe.
Unripe tomatoes and any parts of the tomato plant are poisonous to dogs. So, if your dog eats unripe tomatoes or tomato plants, call your veterinarian.
Dogs absorb valuable nutrients, especially vitamins, through ripe tomatoes. Tomatoes are known as an essential source of vitamins, containing vitamins C, E, and K in particular.
However, tomatoes also provide minerals such as potassium, folic acid, magnesium, and calcium. They have a high water content and contain a lot of fiber, which helps dogs’ digestion.
Tomatoes are also rich in antioxidants. They are one of the most essential sources of lycopene, an important antioxidant.
Some scientific studies suggest that lycopene reduces the risk of developing certain cancers and heart disease. Lycopene has also been found to prevent some eye diseases in humans.
Beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid, and naringenin are other antioxidants found in tomatoes.
Tomatoes in Dog Food
Some commercial dog foods have tiny amounts of tomatoes in the form of tomato pomace. This is a by-product that is produced when tomatoes are strained.
Tomato pomace may contain the skin, pulp, juice, and seeds of the tomato fruit. It is often used in dog food as a source of fiber and vitamins.
Can Tomatoes Harm My Dog?
Tomatoes are the fruit of the tomato plant. With potatoes, eggplants, and others, they belong to the nightshade family.
All of these nightshade plants produce a toxin called solanine. Belladonna is also a member of the nightshade family and is known to be highly toxic to both dogs and humans.
However, ripe tomatoes are usually safe for dogs. Immature tomatoes and parts of a tomato plant can cause toxic damage to dogs due to their higher solanine content.
So, tomatoes can harm your dog, so it’s generally better to stick to other, safer alternatives like zucchini, squash, peppers, and sweet potatoes.
Are Tomatoes Toxic to Dogs?
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family and, as mentioned, produce a chemical called solanine.
However, ripe tomatoes contain only a tiny amount of this toxin, so it is doubtful that dogs will be harmed, even if they consume a lot of tomatoes.
Unripe, green tomatoes contain slightly more solanine than ripe tomatoes. But even if your dog eats a lot of unripe tomatoes, the risk of poisoning is low.
The highest concentration of solanine, and therefore the highest risk of poisoning, is found in the stems, leaves, and flowers of tomato plants.
The green tomato plant parts emit a pungent odor and are covered with tiny prickly hairs. This should make them uninteresting and inedible to most dogs.
If you have a puppy or your dog is very indiscriminate in his food choices, you should still make sure he doesn’t go for your tomato plants.
However, even if your dog does eat part of the tomato plant, it is unlikely that he will consume such a large amount that he will have problems.
Still, it’s safest to keep your tomato plants fenced in as a precaution.
Tomatoes contain another potentially toxic substance called atropine. However, the concentration is far too low to have a harmful effect. This is true even if dogs consume a large amount of it.
What Are the Risks of Tomatoes for Dogs?
Although tomatoes are generally safe for dogs, as with all treats, they should only be given in moderation.
Large amounts of tomatoes can cause your dog to have an upset stomach. Also, tomatoes are acidic, so you should be particularly cautious if your dog is prone to reflux or has a sensitive stomach.
As with any new food you give your dog, you should only provide a tiny amount first to see how he reacts.
There is a small risk that your dog will have an allergic reaction, although this is very unlikely with tomatoes.
Suppose you notice any signs of hives, small bumps that suddenly appear on the skin, swelling, especially in the head and face area, coughing, or difficulty breathing. In that case, you should see your veterinarian immediately.
Also, remember that although tomatoes are low in calories, they are not a balanced food for dogs.
Tomatoes, along with the calories in the rest of the day’s treats, should not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
How to Recognize Tomato Poisoning in Dogs
Tomato poisoning is extremely rare in dogs. If you suspect that your dog has eaten vast amounts of unripe tomatoes or tomato plants, you should nevertheless immediately seek advice from your veterinarian.
When dogs eat too many unripe tomatoes or large quantities of tomato plants, the most likely result is a mild stomach upset with diarrhea and vomiting.
However, more severe symptoms of tomato poisoning include lethargy, muscle weakness, drooling, tremors, loss of coordination, and irregular heartbeat.
At very high doses, tomato poisoning can even lead to unconsciousness or death.
Remember, however, that these symptoms are not specific to tomato poisoning. Many other conditions can also cause these symptoms.
With immediate and successful treatment by a veterinarian, most dogs will fully recover from tomato poisoning within 24 to 48 hours.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Tomatoes?
For most dogs, a raw tomato is safe as an occasional treat. However, never give your dog too many tomatoes at once.
Give only a tiny piece of tomato first to ensure no unwanted side effects occur.
Can Dogs Eat Unripe Tomatoes?
Unripe or green tomatoes contain more significant amounts of solanine than ripe or red tomatoes.
It is doubtful that accidentally eating one or two unripe tomatoes will cause harm to your dog, but too many can be toxic and lead to serious side effects.
If you are concerned that your dog may have eaten unripe tomatoes, you should seek advice from your veterinarian immediately.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Tomatoes?
Cooked tomatoes are just as safe as ripe, uncooked tomatoes. Some commercial dog foods even contain small amounts of cooked tomatoes in their ingredient list.
Also, feed cooked tomatoes only in moderation and without added sugar, salt, or other seasonings. Many ready-made tomato products contain other dangerous ingredients, such as onions or garlic.
Can Dogs Eat Tomato Sauce Or Ketchup?
Ketchup, pizza sauce, and other tomato-based products do not contain enough solanine to have toxic effects in small amounts.
It is still not advisable to feed these products to your dog because they often contain large amounts of sugar, salt, or chemicals that can be harmful. If in doubt, always ask your veterinarian for advice.
Summary: Are Dogs Allowed to Eat Tomatoes?
Eating a few tomatoes occasionally is fine for most dogs without hesitation. Many dogs even enjoy the occasional ripe tomato as a treat.
Give your dog just one or two pieces of tomato at first to see if he likes them and if he can tolerate them.
Just like people, dogs have their likes and dislikes regarding food. Some dogs turn up their noses when given tomatoes; others gobble them up.
If tomatoes seem to be to your dog’s liking and he has no unwanted side effects, you can offer your dog a tomato as a treat now and then.
However, make sure that you never give him unripe tomatoes. And dogs should not eat anything from the tomato plant itself either.
If you fear that your dog has eaten unripe tomatoes or parts of a tomato plant, or if he shows corresponding symptoms, it is always best to contact your veterinarian immediately.