We all have this inherent desire to give our pets leftover food and treats coming off our tables. While there is quite a long list of human foods that we simply shouldn’t give to our pet dogs primarily for their contents, there are those that can be freely given but with caution. Tomatoes, when given in moderation as well as having a good understanding of the risks involved, can provide pooches with a variety of nutrients that dogs can truly benefit from. The key is always in moderation. So, can dogs eat tomatoes? Sure, they can!
The Nutrients in Tomatoes
A large piece of ripe, red, and raw tomato typically contains 12 percent protein, 9 percent fat, and 79 percent carbohydrates. You wouldn’t really believe that tomatoes for dogs contain proteins and fats since they are considered vegetables and we have this notion that vegetables and fruits are more carbohydrates. But that is not exactly the case with tomatoes. Surprisingly, it contains 18 amino acids that can help in the building of tissues of dogs, especially the younger ones. Its 9 percent fat content is more on the monounsaturated types of fat. It’s very low in cholesterol and saturated fat, too. Tomatoes are well-regarded for the following nutrients.
- Alpha tocopherols
These are well-known for improving the canine immune system while also helping in the enhancement of macronutrient metabolism. This is especially important among younger dogs as their immune system may not yet fully mature. It is equally effective among hounds that are always outdoors.
Known as vitamin B1, thiamine is important in promoting a more optimally functioning central nervous system while also aiding in better cardiovascular health in dogs. Its effects on the central nervous system can play a role in the prevention of canine dementia. Thiamine also has antioxidant properties.
Vitamin B3 or niacin is important for optimum canine skin health, optimum range of motion of the joints, and in enhanced brain functioning.
- Vitamin B6
This vitamin is essential for maintaining healthier blood vessels while also supporting optimum brain functioning. It is especially useful in the management of anemia in dogs to help improve the delivery of oxygen to the tissues.
You can look at phosphorus as the natural partner of calcium when it comes to the maintenance of strong bones. Together, they make sure that your dog’s bones including teeth are as strong as optimally possible to allow pooches to be as active as they can be.
This trace mineral is important in the synthesis of collagen, a protein that makes up a variety of connective tissue in the dog’s body including the skin and joints. It also plays an important role in the maintenance of the proper functioning of nerve cells as well as in the production of red blood cells.
- Vitamin A
This vitamin is not only excellent for canine vision, but also for enhancing its immune system and the optimum growth of bones. It is also a potent antioxidant which all dogs need.
- Vitamin C
Known for its immune system-enhancing properties, vitamin C is best regarded for its role in the formation of collagen. Without vitamin C, the dog’s body will have difficulty synthesizing collagen, an important substance of connective tissues.
Why Tomatoes Can Be Dangerous in Dogs
While tomatoes for dogs can bring a host of benefits courtesy of the many nutrients that it brings to your dog’s food bowl, it can be quite dangerous, too.
There is actually a controversy whether the toxic substance found in tomatoes is alpha-tomatine or solanine. Both substances are actually glycoalkaloids that are found in the leaves, stems, and, to a lesser extent, the fruit itself. Some experts say that solanine, which is naturally found in potatoes, can also be found in tomatoes which have been shown to be exceptionally toxic when ingested in large amounts. However, recent evidence suggests that, because of the almost indistinguishable chemical structure of both solanine and tomatine, it is quite easy to think that they are one and the same. For all intents and purposes, this should be resolved once and for all. For the record, it is alpha-tomatine that is the glycoalkaloid that is present in tomatoes and that solanine is exclusively found in potatoes.
So why is alpha-tomatine dangerous? Technically, tomatine has antifungal, insecticidal, and antimicrobial properties which make it quite beneficial, to say the least. However, when ingested in unusually large amounts, it can produce the following manifestations.
- Abdominal pain
What we would like to point out is that the toxic effects of alpha-tomatine are significantly lesser in severity compared to solanine toxicity. Additionally, since the toxicity is dose-dependent, your dog will have to consume a whole basket of plump, ripe, red tomatoes for it to experience these reactions. If your pooch decides to chow down on immature, green tomatoes or even eat the leaves, stems, or even the roots of tomatoes, then there is a much higher likelihood of tomatine toxicity than if they were to consume the fruit itself. The reason is simple. Tomato fruit contains less concentrations of tomatine than the leaves, stems, and roots of the vegetable. As the tomato ripens and turns red, the amount of tomatine decreases.
Of course there are other sources of risks in tomatoes. For example, seeds can cause intestinal blockage especially when ingested by puppies. So can puppies eat tomatoes? Sure they can. Just don’t give the seeds and give only in moderation.
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Moderation is Key
Like all human foods that we give to our dogs, tomatoes should always be given in moderation. They are rich in vitamins and minerals that can help make your dog and puppy a lot healthier. However, caution should always be exercised when giving the fruit. Give only the ripe, red ones and steer clear off the stems, leaves, and roots of the plant. These vegetables for dogs can also make for excellent treats; just remember the 10 percent rule. Are tomatoes good for dogs? In moderation, yes; too much and you’ll find out that it can bring a handful of inconveniences as well.