Tomatoes are an integral part of our food intake. Whether broiled, stewed, fried, eaten raw, or used as an ingredient in the products we buy, tomatoes are virtually everywhere! Tomatoes are one of the most prevalent ingredients in cooked foods, so if you’re used to giving your dog scrap food, you might be wondering about the answer to this question: can dogs eat tomatoes?
To answer you directly, it’s a yes and no. Plain ripe tomatoes, without their stems and leaves, are not dangerous to dogs if eaten in moderation. Tomatoes belong to the Nightshade family of plants, which contain chemical substances like tomatine and solanine. These substances are harmful to dogs when consumed in extreme amounts.
Unripe tomatoes, however, are considered unsafe and should be avoided. If you have tomato plants at home, make sure to fence them so they won’t be accessible to your furry friends.
Dogs eat all kinds of things and if you are not cautious, your buddy’s health might be in trouble.
Today, we will seek to shed some light regarding the issue of tomatoes as a health hazard for dogs. Let’s check whether tomatoes are truly beneficial or detrimental to your dog’s health.
Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
Tomatoes, with the scientific name Solanum Lycopersicum, are known to be a nutritious source of vitamins and nutrients if consumed in appropriate quantities. They are not just beneficial for humans, but for dogs as well. This is why dog food manufacturers include tomatoes (in the form of tomato pomace) as a component of their products.
There hasn’t been any reported case on dogs suffering from the toxic effects of tomatoes.[Source]
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that primarily fights off harmful free radicals, reducing the risk of heart disease. An average-sized tomato has a low-calorie content (around 18 calories) and high fiber level (1.5 grams), which greatly aids in digestion.
Other vitamins and minerals in tomatoes include the following:
- Beta-carotene and Vitamin A – essential for the immune system, vision, reproduction, and proper organ function.
- Vitamin C – important in the growth and rejuvenation of tissues.
- Folate – also known as vitamin B9, folate is critical in tissue and cell growth.
- Potassium – essential for regulating cholesterol, controlling blood pressure, and preventing heart diseases.
- Vitamin K – a principal vitamin for bone health and blood clotting.
How Is It Bad for Dogs?
Unripe tomatoes and green parts of tomato plants like the stems, leaves, and stalks, contain two toxic compounds: tomatine and solanine, toxins that could be harmful at high levels. This means that a few bites on unripe tomatoes and a couple of leaves won’t pose serious health issues to canines.
If you want to prevent your dogs from eating large amounts, make sure to situate your plants far from your dog’s reach or put some barriers. As the tomato ripens, its tomatine levels decrease, making ripe tomatoes safer.
Products containing tomatoes like juices, soups, and sauces, could be unhealthy for dogs, especially if they carry sugar, salt, and other artificial ingredients. To control the tomato content of food, you can make your tomato-based products.
A deadly condition called anaphylaxis is also possible but in super rare cases. If you notice alarming signs or symptoms, stop giving your dog tomatoes immediately. Or if the symptoms persist, contact your vet.
[Related Article: Can Dogs Have Blueberries Or Other Berries?]
What Are the Clinical Signs of Tomato Poisoning?
If your four-legged friend has consumed some green parts of the tomato plant, observe for some signs of tomatine poisoning. According to the American Kennel Club, the clinical signs include the following:
- Uncontrollable heartbeat
- Loss of coordination
- Hypersalivation (excessive drooling)
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms are rare, but they are also treatable. Any symptoms you notice above can warrant a visit with the vet. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, the vet might administer fluid therapy, which helps to flush out toxins and treat dehydration.
Another treatment is gastric lavage, which involves putting a tube through the dog’s stomach to flush out toxins.
How Do You Give Tomatoes Safely?
Now, you know that tomatoes can be safely given if you understand the associated risks.
Be careful of the source
Make sure you know the background of the plantation where you will be picking your tomatoes. Avoid sources that have been applied with fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides as they can cause your dogs to become sick.
Choose the ripe ones
Before giving tomatoes to your lovely pet, pick the bright red ones, while removing the stems, vines, and leaves. How do you know a ripe tomato fruit? First, the tomato’s skin should be glossy, and its redness must be deep and bright.
Again, the reason for choosing ripe tomatoes is the fact that their tomatine or solanine levels are significantly lower.
Clean the tomato
After picking the tomato from the source, it’s important to rinse it well to ensure safe consumption. Using your hands, rub the tomato’s sides. Don’t use chemicals like soaps, detergents, or bleach to wash them, as their flavor could be poisonous.
Don’t add unnecessary additives
Many foods can be eaten by dogs, but additives like salt, garlic, and onions are harmful to them. These ingredients can give your dog an upset stomach. For example, garlic contains thiosulfate, which may be safe for humans but highly toxic to dogs.
Everything about onions is also toxic, from its leaves, flesh, and juice. No matter what type of rigorous food processing or cooking you do, your dogs must be kept away from them.
Read the labels
If you want to give your dog tomato-based products like tomato sauce or ketchup, read the list of ingredients on the label. If there are unsafe ingredients, steer clear of them.
A common ingredient of tomato ketchup is fructose corn syrup. This is not toxic but it’s not recommended for your dog because of its high sugar content. This means that regularly consuming products with this ingredient can increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.
Know your dog’s stomach
If your dog has gastroenteritis or stomach-related issues, better not give tomatoes as it could aggravate them.
Give in small amounts
Don’t give a fully-loaded meal of tomatoes to your dog, but provide incrementally and observe if your dog manifests signs of allergies. If none, then it’s okay for your dog as a snack.
Avoid canned tomatoes
Canned tomatoes contain high levels of sodium, which can lead to your dog’s dehydration or worse, salt poisoning.
How Many Tomatoes Can You Give To Your Dog?
There’s no fixed rule on how many tomatoes can be given to our dogs but as the common notion goes, too much of everything is bad. It would be a great idea to create a diet plan for your dog so you can gauge the level of nutrition given to them at a given period.
With a calendared diet scheme, you can identify which meals or snacks can be infused with tomatoes. If there aren’t any harmful ingredients, you can either add one or two finely chopped tomato pieces to your dog’s food.
But first, you need to consider the tomato fruit’s size and ripeness. To check your dog’s allergies versus tomatoes, observe the first time they eat it.
[Related Article: Why Are My Dogs Eyes Red Like A Tomato?]
We all want our dogs to stay healthy and fit, so we feed them with nutritious food as much as possible. If we include tomatoes into their diet, we have to do it in the right quantity and the right manner.
Always bear in mind the tomato’s color before giving it to your dog – bright red.
Yes, tomatoes are packed with healthy nutrients but still, they are not the perfect food for your dog’s balanced diet. Give them to your dog as occasional treats, and not as regular food.