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Before you share with your pup a bite from your fruit and vegetable salads with fresh ripe tomatoes or a spoonful of pasta sauce from your juicy beefsteak, we’re sure you’d want to know first if it’s safe for dogs. And besides, can dogs eat tomatoes?
Tomato plants are one of the staple ingredients in a lot of home-cooked meals and gourmet dishes, and this isn’t surprising considering their nutrition profile, their juiciness, and rich flavor that are reminiscent of summertime.
So, we can’t also blame our canine companions, if they’ve developed a liking for these tasty and nutritious plants. But again, are tomatoes safe for dogs?
Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
Most dogs love eating whatever food that we eat. So, as dog parents, it’s up to us whether to give in to their desire or not.
Veterinarians don’t recommend that we share our table scraps with our dogs, for the obvious reasons that our foods are most often seasoned and mixed with ingredients that can be harmful to them.
Nonetheless, there are human foods that are generally safe for dogs, and that includes ripe tomatoes. So, to answer the question, “Yes, dogs can eat tomatoes.”
However, there are still risks involved since tomatoes belong in the nightshade family, which means that they contain certain substances that can be harmful to dogs and even to us, humans.
Are Tomatoes Good for Dogs?
Tomatoes are loaded with nutrients that can be good for dogs when taken in appropriate amounts.
They are low in calories, and high in fiber, which makes them a good addition to your dog’s diet to help promote healthy digestion and maintain a healthy weight. And that’s also why tomato pomace is a common ingredient in many dog foods.
Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, which is good for your dog’s heart and bones, and they also contain other essential nutrients, such as vitamin C for good skin, beta carotene for brain health, and vitamin A, which supports your dog’s vision.
Additionally, a tomato plant is also packed with minerals like potassium and folate which are good for your dog’s blood pressure and muscle health.
Generally speaking, a plain, ripe tomato is safe and good for your dog’s health when taken in moderation.
You can also cook the ripe ones and make them as toppers on your canine companion’s favorite dog food, or you can give him cooked tomatoes as an occasional treat.
When Are Tomatoes Bad for Dogs?
As dog owners, you should be mindful of the plants that can be dangerous to your pup, and sad to say, there are instances when tomatoes can be bad for dogs.
If you have a tomato garden in your front or backyard, you’d have to be extra careful not to let your pup eat unripe tomatoes, especially in large quantities.
The green parts of green tomatoes, including stems and leaves, as well as unripened tomatoes, contain a substance called solanine.
This is a potentially toxic substance, especially when consumed in large quantities. In addition to solanine, green tomatoes also contain tomatine, another potentially toxic substance for dogs.
The good news is that these substances are mostly found in the green parts of the tomato plants, and ripe red tomatoes even contain hardly any solanine and tomatine.
So, unless your dog ends up eating enormous amounts of unripe tomatoes with their green parts, you shouldn’t worry.
What Happens If Your Dog Has Eaten Green Tomatoes?
Small amounts of unseasoned, cooked, or red raw tomatoes are safe for dogs to eat. However, if your pup has eaten large quantities of unripe green tomatoes, especially with their leaves and stem, it would be best to bring him to the vet immediately.
These parts of the tomato plant contain higher concentrations of the toxic substances solanine and tomatine. And when your dog ate a lot of these, he may suffer from solanine poisoning or tomatine poisoning.
Symptoms of tomato poisoning that you should watch out for include the following:
- Muscle weakness
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Lack of coordination or balance
Aside from an upset stomach, many dogs would also experience drowsiness, abnormal heart rate, confusion, and some dogs also exhibit allergic reactions. Common signs that you should watch out for include coughing, sneezing, difficulty of breathing, and swelling.
Additionally, the high fiber and sugar content from eating large quantities of tomatoes can also cause stomach upset, especially for dogs with a sensitive stomach.
In rare cases, an allergic reaction can lead to anaphylaxis, which can be fatal for dogs. Hence, if you suspect any of the signs mentioned, you should seek the guidance of an emergency vet right away.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Tomatoes or Tomato Sauce?
As mentioned earlier, cooked and even fresh tomatoes (ripe ones) are generally safe for dogs to eat in moderation.
However, it’s different when you are planning to serve cooked tomatoes or tomato sauce that has been seasoned with salt, spices, and other potentially harmful ingredients.
How to Safely Serve Tomatoes to Your Dog?
Tomatoes are rich in nutrients, and it would be a pity if dogs can’t experience these nutritional benefits.
So, it’s a good thing that we can share these nutrient-dense vegetables with them, as long as we also observe some safety precautions.
First, as pet lovers, we should know where the tomatoes came from so we can determine whether or not they have been exposed to herbicides or pesticides that can make our dog sick.
As mentioned earlier, you should also stay away from unripe tomatoes, as well as their green parts, such as the leaves and the stems.
So, if you have a tomato garden, it would be safer both for your dogs and your tomatoes to fence off your garden or to supervise your pup when he is playing in the tomato garden area.
Furthermore, if you are going to serve any tomato-based product to your pups such as a pasta sauce or soup, don’t forget to check the ingredients first.
Or to be sure, you can stick to cooked tomatoes that you prepared yourself, so you know exactly what is in the pet food.
Some dogs also have underlying health conditions such as gastrointestinal issues and acid reflux that can be aggravated by eating tomatoes.
Hence, it’s best to seek your vet’s advice before giving any human food to your canine companion to make sure that it’s safe for him.