Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
Can I Feed My Dog Tomatoes?
As dogs are omnivores, you may be wondering if it’s OK to feed them the occasional fruit or vegetable snack, especially as we all know how nutritious they can be for us humans. You may be tempted to throw pooch a bit of your fruit or vegetable from the table while you eat, but it is widely known that many human foods are not safe for dogs, so it may be worth checking first.
So can dogs eat tomatoes? Are tomatoes safe for dogs to eat, and do they make a tasty treat?
What’s in a Tomato?
Let’s start by having a look at what tomatoes contain:
- Carbohydrate – a source of energy
- Fibre – aids in digestion
- Beta-carotene – turned into vitamin A in the body, good for eye health
- B Vitamins – essential in nervous system and the blood
- Vitamin C – less essential for dogs as their bodies can make vitamin C
- Vitamin E – good for skin and hair
- Vitamin K – essential for normal blood clotting and proteins
- Minerals including calcium and magnesium – bone health, muscle and heart function
- Lycopene – a carotenoid (part of a group of phytochemical compounds) – this is what makes tomatoes red. Research is showing it may be beneficial in heart health
This makes tomatoes a delicious and nutrient rich food, but what about for your dog?
Are tomatoes safe for dogs to eat?
Unfortunately, there is not a clear-cut answer to this question.
Alongside all those health benefits, tomatoes contain a chemical called tomatine, which is contained in the stems and leaves of tomato plants but also in the fruit. Unripe green tomatoes contain more tomatine than ripe red tomatoes.
Therefore, ripe red tomatoes are generally considered as safe for dogs to eat. You may even notice that tomato is included in some dog foods, as are other vegetables.
But – it is those unripe fruit and other parts of the tomato plant that are toxic to dogs.
Tomatoes are in the nightshade family of plants (‘Solanaceae’), which contain the same type of potentially lethal chemicals.
Do tomatoes make a healthy treat for dogs?
Given that ripe red tomatoes are considered safe, you may wish to feed them to your dog.
All treats should be given in moderation, because a complete dog food will be giving your dog everything he needs to stay healthy, and treats are only extras.
It’s not recommended to try tomatoes if your dog has a sensitive stomach, and too many may cause stomach upset for any dog.
If you grow tomatoes at home, or are thinking of doing so, it may be worth fencing them off from your dog. If he becomes partial to those unripe tomatoes, or ingests the root, leaves or stems, there’s a rare chance he could suffer tomatine poisoning. Look out for:
- Weakness/going off balance
- Stomach Upset
- Heart rate irregularities such as slowed heart rate
Can my dog eat other foods containing tomatoes?
I’m thinking here about things like cooked tomato sauces, ketchup, canned tomatoes, and so on.
As a rule, if the product has been made using ripe, red tomatoes, then it will probably be safe.
However, something like a tomato pasta sauce could well contain other harmful foods, especially onion and garlic. So check, check, check.
The other problem with giving things like tomato ketchup for example, is they contain added sugar. Which makes them less healthy than a simple, raw tomato.
It may be worth staying on the safe side and only offering raw, ripe tomatoes to your dog as an occasional snack if he is really keen on them!
So in summary: Tomatoes are sitting on the fence a bit when it comes to the question ‘can dogs eat tomatoes’, due to the fact that the plants and unripe tomatoes are actually quite poisonous!
But a ripe red tomato can potentially be a tasty and healthy dog treat when small amounts are occasionally given.
If you want to know what other fruits and vegetables are safe for your dogs, do check out our other articles ‘what fruits are safe for dogs to eat’, and more.