Can dogs eat tomatoes? Is there a difference between tomato varieties? And what are the potential health benefits of these shiny red fruits?
Whether you’ve got a tomato patch in your garden or like to keep a supply of fresh tomatoes in the fridge, you might be wondering whether your pup can enjoy a few. In this tomato-filled article, we’ve got all the juicy details on this juicy fruit!
Can dogs eat tomatoes?
In terms of toxicity, tomatoes are safe for dogs. The fruit itself is non-toxic and doesn’t pose any immediate or lingering health risks for your dog.
This can be shocking to anyone who knows that the tomato plant is in the same family as nightshade, a plant that is deadly for dogs when ingested. But, while the tomato and nightshade plant are distant cousins, your pupper isn’t at risk of poisoning from the shiny red tomato.
Can dogs eat tomatoes before they’re ripe?
This is where things get tricky. While ripe tomatoes are safe for dogs to eat, unripe green tomatoes are not. In fact, any green part of the tomato plant, including the stalk, leaves, and unripe fruit can pose a toxicity danger for dogs.
That’s because these parts of the tomato plant are high in two potentially toxic chemical compounds: tomatine and solanine. These compounds are also toxic to many mammals, but the risk of toxicity is low, since the parts of the plant with the highest concentration are also the least edible.
As long as your dog is only eating the ripe tomato fruit, they won’t be at risk for toxicity from tomatine or solanine. Even if they do get their chompers on a tomato stalk, they probably won’t ingest enough to get sick. Still, it’s a good idea to recognise the signs that a dog has ingested too much of the dangerous parts of a tomato plant:
- Rapid heart rate or breathing
- Confusion or distress
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s important to get in touch with a vet as soon as possible.
Tomatoes are generally safe for dogs, but are they a healthy snack?
One way to answer “Can dogs eat tomatoes” is whether or not the plant is toxic. But just because a dog isn’t likely to get sick from a certain ingredient doesn’t mean that they should be considered a healthy snack. So what’s the final say on tomatoes?
In the case of tomatoes, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Acidity. What we love about tomatoes—that they add a delicious zing to our meals—can also be a risk for our pups. Too much acid in their diet could lead to stomach upset, which will likely result in diarrhoea.
- Other ingredients in tomato products. Tomato juice, pasta sauce, and other tomato-based products are often filled with ingredients that you don’t want to give your dog. Extra salt, sugar, or preservatives can take away from their overall healthy diet. So, if you’re going to give your pup tomatoes, make sure they’re eating just the fresh fruit.
- Tomato allergies. It’s rare, but some dogs can be allergic to tomatoes. Tomato allergies can induce anaphylaxis, which will require immediate medical attention.
What are the health benefits?
Okay, so as long as your dog is eating ripe tomatoes in moderation, there aren’t too many significant health risks or drawbacks. Now, how about the health benefits? Are there any reasons why we might want to incorporate tomatoes into our dogs’ treat repertoire?
For one thing, tomatoes are low in sugar. Unlike some fruits, like bananas, you can feed your dog bites of tomato without worrying about high sugar content.
Also, tomatoes are high in antioxidants, particularly an antioxidant called lycopene. In humans, lycopene has been linked to lower risk of cancer and heart disease. So, it makes sense that some dog foods might incorporate this healthy ingredient in their food, as well.
Tomatoes are also high in Vitamin A, C, and K, with a good dose of potassium, too. These vitamins and minerals are great for your dog’s skin, cell regeneration, vision, and immune system.
Finally, there’s the benefit of dietary fibre from tomatoes. Fibre is important for your dog’s digestive system and tomatoes offer a good source of both soluble and insoluble fibres.
How to feed dogs tomatoes safely
Finding the right amount of tomatoes to feed your dog will depend on your pup’s unique system. To help find the right balance, we can offer up some pieces of advice for feeding your dog tomatoes safely:
- Be mindful of sensitive stomachs. If your pupper has had stomach sensitivity in the past, tomatoes could trigger their digestive issues. You might throw out the idea of tomatoes altogether and opt for other dog-friendly vegetables with less acidity.
- Start small. If you’re not sure how your dog will react to tomatoes, give them just a little bit. This will give you a good sense of how their system will react to the extra acid; if they experience some stomach upset, find a different healthy treat to share with your dog.
- If your pup turns their snout up at fresh tomatoes, they might still enjoy it in their food bowl. Not all dogs enjoy the texture of tomatoes by themselves, but they can still benefit from the extra vitamins, minerals and fibre. Instead of trying to get them to eat fresh tomatoes, you might incorporate tomatoes into their meals. Alternatively, you could opt for a healthy, balanced dog meal plan that has tomatoes as an ingredient.
- Keep your pup away from the tomato garden. For the doggos who do go wild about tomatoes, you might need to keep their snouts out of the tomato garden. Remember that too much grazing can cause problems, so keep an eye on Fido when there are delicious tomato vines within reach.
- Exercise is an important part of digestion, too! If you really want Fido to benefit from the digestive properties of high-fibre foods, make sure they’re getting plenty of exercise. Walking is a great way to jumpstart your dog’s digestive process, which will help your dog reap the benefits of tomatoes. If you’re not home to give your pup as much exercise and playtime as they would life, a trusted Dog Sitter will be happy to help out!
Will you try giving your pup tomatoes?
Do you think your pup will drool over cherry tomatoes? Try to sneak a whole heirloom tomato when you’re not looking? Now that we know that the answer to “Can dogs eat tomatoes?” is yes, you can see how your dog will react to this dog-friendly fruit!