Most dogs LOVE their snacks and it’s just so easy to want to give them a piece of whatever human food you are snacking on too. However, there are many foods that are safe and healthy for humans, but potentially harmful to your canine companion. One common food, the tomato, is often in question: Can dogs eat tomatoes safely?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
Dog food experts have arguments regarding the safety of serving tomatoes to dogs.
Well, as delicious as tomatoes are, is it actually a health threat to the dogs or are we over-reacting about this?
Let me, the veterinarian, explain my thoughts…
It’s always the best idea to double-check which foods your dog can and can not eat because many foods that are safe and healthy for humans are actually very harmful for your dog to eat, or even poisonous or deadly to them. Taste is never worth the risk of harming your pet.
That’s why I am so glad that you are here making an informed decision before feeding your dog tomatoes!
What Do Dogs Eat?
Some dogs are not picky at all about what they eat. They’ll eat whatever you offer them- they’re like vacuum cleaners sucking up anything you put in front of them and then some!
Some dogs are on the pickier side of things. Pickier pups can be harder to properly feed because they just won’t eat any food we give them. Try feeding a picky dog something like okra!
A common canine diet for pet dogs consists of a complete dry or wet feed and possibly some form of supplements in some specific cases (however, not all pet dogs need supplements).
Foraging can also be included in the diet if the dog is allowed to roam, or the dog is feral, and of course there are treats that are a part of many dog’s diets!
The diet of every dog breed will very when you are looking into a healthy and complete diet for your pup. So it is important to know when offering food to your dog, what constitutes a healthy choice, and what does not.
An improper diet could put your dog at risk of having problems properly digesting their food and absorbing nutrients correctly. And we don’t want that now do we???
So let’s talk specifically about kiwis, since that’s why you clicked over here today, and talk about how it could affect your dog’s overall health and well-being.
While many people think or consider tomatoes a vegetables, it’s actually a fruit.
More specifically, tomatoes are a type of berry which grows on a vine, AKA, the tomato plant and are a part of the same family as potatoes, chili peppers, and eggplants, the nightshade family.
The most common varieties of tomato are those that are commonly used for cooking and are large, red, and juicy.
However, you can get them in different colors (such as yellow, green, orange, and even purple!), sizes from grape and cherry tomatoes to giant beefsteak tomatoes, and funny shapes!
Let’s look a little deeper into what tomatoes are comprised of so that we can better decide if they should be a part of your dog’s diet.
Tomatoes can offer a range of important nutrients and health benefits to your friendly dog friend, such as:
- High water content (about 95% water) which is good for keeping well hydrated
- A good source of vitamins A, C and B6
- Rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which may help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals
- Low in fat
- Source of fiber (helps in digestion and reduces some GI issues)
- A good source of potassium (helps prevent hypokalemia in dogs, low potassium levels in the bloodstream)
Do Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
Most dogs will eat a tomato when offered one.
But just because dogs DO eat tomatoes does not necessarily mean that this is the best or safest choice for your pet.
Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes? Are They Safe?
There are some foods that us humans can eat that can be toxic to your dog and need to be avoided all together.
While the toxicity level in an actual ripe red tomato fruit itself is minimal, you shouldn’t give them too much because problems may arise as I will discuss further down in this article. [source]
So, long story short- Yes!
Adult dogs can have tomatoes, IF given to them safely, and I’ll cover that in just a bit.
You do not want to feed the wrong tomatoes or the wrong amount or frequency, potentially making your furry friend unintentionally sick.
Are Tomatoes Beneficial For Dogs?
The random lick of a piece of tomato or a small bite as a treat is totally fine – it should not harm a healthy dog.
However, there’s no need to offer it in large quantities, as this can cause some major health issues for your pup.
Basically, if your dog consumed a bit of ripe tomato, you don’t need to drive them straight to the vet to get their stomach looked over.
If they start showing any odd signs of being affected by this new food, contact your local veterinarian to get more information on what to do next.
So, yes there are some negative effects that can be seen with some dogs who consume tomatoes.
Some of the health benefits for dogs who consume tomato include:
- Good Fiber Content: Fiber is great to keep the digestive system flowing smoothly and also helps dogs feel satiated (feeling full for longer after eating).
- Water Content: A high water content fruit means that your dog is more likely to stay well-hydrated. Every little bit helps!
- Low Fat: Again, if you are looking for lower-fat options to serve your overweight dog, tomatoes may be a good add-on option. However, don’t forget that tomato does have quite a bit of sugar, which can derail a certain weight-loss programs that your pet may be on.
- Inflammation/Antioxidants: Multiple studies show that tomatoes are a great source of anti-inflammatory compounds (like Lycopene) that help in fighting against inflammation.
- Vitamins and Minerals: A tomato contains vitamin A, C, and B6 as well as a multitude of important minerals. For instance, vitamin C helps your canine companion stay safe and adequately protected from diseases and strengthens their immune system. I go on all day with how important and essential vitamins and minerals are for your pet!
- Diabetes/Blood Sugar: Tomatoes may help with glucose levels and glucose metabolism in the bloodstream.
Can Tomatoes Be Harmful to Dogs?
Before we can decide whether tomatoes are safe to feed our dogs, we need to first understand some of the risks involved if we do feed our dogs the fruit.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t have any concerns with feeding your dog tomatoes, because there are a few key things to keep in mind.
These are three of the factors to keep in mind:
Harmful Reason #1: Loose Stool/Diarrhea
Too much fiber or acid can mean hypermotile, or increased movement, of one’s digestive tract.
Some dogs are more sensitive to additional fiber in their diets, so they are more likely to have loose stool and in some cases, full-blown diarrhea.
Other dogs will not be impacted by any additional fiber in their diets.
Now, I have not seen this last scenario with my own eyes, I have had many people tell me that that was their experience.
Harmful Reason #2: Allergic Reaction to Tomatoes
A dog can develop an intolerance or an allergy to any food, so there is always the possibility that your dog is allergic to tomatoes.
If you suspect your dog is allergic to tomatoes do NOT feed it to your dog.
If your dog is allergic to tomatoes and accidentally ingests it, go to your nearest animal emergency room immediately.
When this happens, the attack sets off a hypersensitivity reaction and can result in any of the following symptoms:
Common symptoms of adverse/allergic reaction to food:
- Itching/Increased grooming
Can Baby and Juvenile Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
Compared to their adult counterparts, baby dogs have much more sensitive gastrointestinal systems.
Avoid feeding baby dogs any kinds of fruits and vegetables until they reach 12 weeks of age to allow their stomachs to mature with them.
Then, when ready to introduce them to juicy fruits, take it very slowly, waiting at least 24 hours to observe any potential adverse side effects, before moving on and trying more of the same fruity snack or a different tasty treat.
Remember – baby and young, and juvenile dogs have more sensitive digestive systems!
Wait 24 hours to see their reaction.
If everything is fine, you can move to the next treat.
Is The Rest Of The Tomato Plant Safe To Eat?
The green parts of the tomato plant – the leaves, stems, flowers, and green fruit contain a alkaloid chemical known as solanine which can produce a substance called tomatidine when digested in the dog’s GI tract.
The more ripe that a tomato gets, the more that this toxin is metabolized out of the fruit.
That’s why it is safest to feed your dog the red, juicy fruit, but should never be offered the leaves, flower, stem, or green, unripened fruit.
This toxin has the potential to cause health issues in your dog if ingested. Some of the signs that your dog may be showing solanine/tomatidine toxicity symptoms include:
- muscle weakness
- muscle fasciculations (tremors or quivering)
- Excessive drooling
- Digestive upset
- Cardiac (heart) issues
- Ataxia (coordination / movement issues)
Medical & Health Concerns of Feeding Tomatoes to Dogs:
- Pesticides: Tomatoes should always be washed to make sure they are free of any pesticides or chemicals that could be harmful to dogs.
- Parasites: Tomatoes should be checked over for parasites that can lead to potential parasite problems with your dog
- Overly Ripened: Avoid rotten fruits that can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset.
- Processed Tomato Products: Canned or cooked tomatoes are full of sugar, can contain chemicals, and are higher in acidity if cooked, so avoid feeding any type of tomato product besides ripe and clean tomatoes to your dogs.
- High Sugar Content: Tomatoes are also high in sugar. Too much sugar is bad for dogs and can lead to digestive problems such as upset stomachs and diarrhea.
- Weight Problems: Too many sugary treats can lead to issues such as obesity, dental problems, and diabetes in dogs.
- Solanine/Tomatidine Toxicity: As discussed earlier in this article, the green parts of the tomato plant is toxic to dogs. The ingestion of the plant, leaves, flowers, stems and/or vines can manifest as diarrhea, bloat, and stomach pain in your dog.
- Puppies: Puppies have a more sensitive digestive system than adults do, and therefore you shouldn’t give your hoppy pet any fruits or vegetables until they reach around 12 weeks of age.
Can Dogs Eat Cherry Tomatoes?
The good news is that cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, and other tomato varieties are safe for dogs to eat!
Just remember to feed them to your dog in moderation and none of the green parts of the plant.
I will discuss how to feed these types of tomatoes to your dog in the next section below.
Can Dogs Have Tomato Juice?
No way. Many of these products contain chemicals or preservatives, spices, and increased sugar content, compared to a fresh, ripe tomato.
Can Dogs Eat Tomato Paste or Tomato Sauce?
Again, no way. Many of these types of products contain chemicals or preservatives, yummy spices, and increased sugar content, compared to a fresh, ripe tomato.
Can Dogs Eat Tomato Soup?
Nope, nope, nope. Again,many of these products can contain chemicals or preservatives, spices, and the possibility of an increased sugar content, compared to a fresh, ripe tomato.
How To Feed Tomatoes To A Dog:
First step to focus in on is the serving size that you are giving your fur baby.
Depending on your dog’s size, the average tomato portion should be about the size of one cherry tomato and should only be fed about 1-2 times per week, definitely not on a daily schedule.
Remember that tomatoes should be limited to a special treat only because of potential digestive and other assorted health problems.
Moderation is key here!
- 1 ripe tomato
- cutting board
- kitchen knife
- food-safe storage container
- Remove the tomato stem, leaves, and/or vine from the tomato fruit as they can be poisonous.
- Wash the fruit thoroughly to get rid of any chemical, pesticides, or pests.
- Cut the tomato in slices and then into bite-sized pieces.
- Prepare an amount equivalent to the size of a cherry tomato to give to your dog, keeping in mind not to feed any dogs with health issues or those are not full grown.
- Place any leftover tomato you may wish to keep in an airtight food-safe storage container in the fridge until ready to use.
Consult with your local veterinarian before adding or switching up your pet's diet. If your pet shows signs of adverse reaction to their diet, contact your vet immediately.
Here are my recommended steps when feeding tomatoes to dogs:
- Remove the tomato stem, leaves, and/or vine from the tomato fruit as they are poisonous to your pet.
- Wash the fruit thoroughly to get rid of any chemical, pesticides, or pests.
- Cut the tomato in slices and then into bite-sized pieces.
- Prepare an amount equivalent to the size of a cherry tomato to give to your dog, keeping in mind not to feed any dogs with health issues or whom are not full grown.
Keep the following in mind when serving food to your dog:
And remember that dogs need more than a bowl or plate of tomatoes – they need a complete and balanced diet.
Whichever complete food you choose for your dog, it needs to have the AAFCO label indicating the diet is complete and balanced for your dog’s life stage.
AAFCO approved foods have gone through testing and compliance to make sure that the diet is safe and healthy for your pet.
Dogs already get everything that they need from their kibble or canned food.
What to do If Your Dog Eats Tomato Accidentally:
If it is just a lick or two of tomato, just watch them for the rest of the day just in case, for any signs of adverse reaction.
If you are concerned with this small amount, of course, contact your veterinarian right away. Most dogs can tolerate a small amount of tomato on occasion and do just fine.
If it is a large amount of tomatoes, contact your veterinarian right away to discuss details and what to do next.
It is extremely likely that your vet will request that you bring your dog in immediately to get evaluated if they have consumed a large amount of tomato, an unripened tomato, or a rotten tomato. We vets want to help and we will best help if we are notified right away.
Trust me, us vets are happy to help!
Dogs can have small pieces of ripe, clean tomato in moderation.
Too much tomato can cause a number of health problems for your dog.
Do not feed young, growing dogs or dogs with underlying health conditions tomatoes even as a treat.
If you have concerns regarding feeding your dog tomatoes, contact your local veterinarian beforehand.