Tomatoes are technically a fruit, but are used as vegetables and are a star ingredient in sandwiches, sauces, salads, and soups. If you like sharing food with your pooch, you’re probably wondering whether tomatoes are safe for dogs.
So, can dogs eat tomatoes? Plain and ripe tomatoes are perfectly fine for dogs to eat. However, green parts of the tomato plant and unripe tomatoes contain toxic substances which are dangerous when consumed in large amounts. Still, small amounts of ripe tomatoes are completely safe and healthy for dogs to eat.
In this article, we’ll go over all advantages and disadvantages of tomatoes for dogs. Continue reading to learn how to safely serve tomatoes to your dog.
Are Tomatoes Good for Dogs?
Ripe tomatoes are perfectly safe for dogs to eat and can offer numerous health benefits. Tomatoes are full of valuable nutrients that are great for dogs when consumed moderately.
Red tomatoes are low in calories, but full of dietary fiber which supports good digestion and proper nutrient absorption. Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamins A, C, B6, and they also contain minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and folate.
Bear in mind, parts of the tomato plant, including stem and leaves, and unripe tomatoes can be harmful to dogs. So, if you decide to let your dog eat tomatoes, make sure to give him only plain and ripe tomatoes without any green parts.
Benefits of Tomatoes for Dogs
Delicious and nutritious tomatoes are a great source of vitamins and minerals your dog needs to stay healthy. When consumed in appropriate amounts, tomatoes can offer the following health benefits to your dog:
1. Stronger Immune System
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that promotes healing and is necessary for tissue repair. When consumed regularly, vitamin C may strengthen your dog’s immune system and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
2. Better Eyesight
Ripe tomatoes are a great source of vitamin A, which is also a strong antioxidant. Vitamin A is involved in immune function, cellular communication, and vision reproduction.
3. Supports Healthy Digestion
Tomatoes are rich in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber which is necessary for proper digestion. The fiber found in whole tomatoes can regulate your dog’s bowel movement and treat diarrhea or constipation (source).
4. Promote Heart Health
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a plant protein that has antioxidant properties, but also acts as a pigment that gives fruits red color. Lycopene’s powerful antioxidant properties may protect your dog’s body against chronic diseases and some types of cancer.
This antioxidant also promotes heart health and diminishes the risk of heart disease by reducing bad cholesterol levels, and increasing good cholesterol.
Side Effect of Tomatoes for Dogs
While ripe tomatoes are safe for dogs to eat in small amounts, the green parts of a tomato plant may be harmful to dogs. Generally, dogs love tomatoes, but eating large quantities of this fruit can cause problems.
Potential side effects of feeding tomatoes to dogs are:
1. Stomach Upset
Although ripe tomatoes are nontoxic to dogs, they are highly acidic. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or acid reflux, eating tomatoes may result in stomach upset.
A dog with an upset stomach might experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and gas. To be on the safe side, don’t feed tomatoes or other acidic foods to your dog if he has a sensitive stomach.
2. Potential Poisoning
Tomatoes contain two potentially toxic compounds – tomatine and solanine. When consumed in large amounts these substances can be very harmful to dogs.
The green parts of tomato, including stems, leaves, and unripe green tomatoes contain the greatest concentration of a substance called solanine. However, it’s highly unlikely that your dog will manage to eat enough tomato greenery to get seriously ill.
Potential poisoning can be an issue only if you have a tomato garden with unripe tomatoes that are within your dog’s reach. If this is the case, you should keep a close eye on your dog while he is in the garden or keep him away from it.
What Are the Signs of Tomato Poisoning in Dogs?
If by any chance your dog manages to consume some green parts of a tomato plant or unripe tomatoes, call your vet for advice. The most common signs of tomato poisoning are:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Abnormal heart rate
Luckily, most of these symptoms are rare since dogs usually don’t consume enough tomato greenery to cause serious harm. However, if you think that your dog has eaten a large amount of tomato plant or if he is experiencing any of these symptoms, call your vet right away.
How Much Tomatoes Can a Dog Eat?
Talk with your vet before you start feeding any human foods, including tomatoes to your dog. If your vet gives you the all-clear, he will also tell you how much tomatoes your dog can eat based on his individual nutritional needs.
Keep in mind, you should feed tomatoes to your dog in moderation as an occasional treat. Since treats should make no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calorie intake, you’ll easily figure out how much tomatoes your dog can eat (source).
How to Feed Tomatoes to Your Dog?
There are many ways you can serve tomatoes to your dog. To be on the safe side, choose only ripe tomatoes that have the leaves and stems removed and wash them thoroughly.
Popular ways to feed tomatoes to dogs are:
- Offer fresh, unseasoned slices of tomato to your dog
- Mash a fresh tomato and mix it with your dog’s food
- Make a homemade tomato sauce and mix it with your dog’s food
- Make homemade tomato dog treats with flour, parsley, and cheese
Nutrient-rich and delicious tomatoes can be a great treat for your dog and offer variety to his diet. When fed in moderation as treats, tomatoes are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants dogs need to stay healthy.
If you decide to feed tomatoes to your dog, always serve plain, ripe, and red tomatoes that don’t have stems or leaves. Remember, the green parts of the tomato plant and unripe tomatoes contain toxins that are harmful to dogs when consumed in large amounts.