By Destin Benoit
Last Updated July 28, 2021

Human foods can be a tricky subject when it comes to knowing what you can and can’t feed your dog. Dog parents often worry that they might make their dog sick if they let their pooch eat something off of their plate. It can also be a worry when they find out that their dog has snatched something off of the counter.

As pet lovers, our dog’s health is always at the forefront of our minds. So, let us help you and put your mind at ease by telling you all about the ins and outs of feeding tomatoes to your dog.

Can Dogs Have Tomatoes?

A couple of slices of tomatoes can be good for dogs. “But how are tomatoes good for pups?” We hear you ask. Well, there’s plenty of misinformation out there that says you shouldn’t ever feed your dogs tomatoes, but that isn’t quite true. Lots of households grow tomatoes during the spring and summer months, and they can be a nice treat for dogs. It’s unripened tomatoes that are the issue.

tomato

Should I Feed My Dog Ripe Tomatoes?

Many dogs like various “human” foods, and there’s no doubt that your dog will try to eat tomatoes if given the chance. This amazing food has plenty of health benefits that might be able to give your dog a boost in their day-to-day life.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes for Dogs

Tomatoes contain a chemical called lycopene. Lycopene is what gives ripe tomatoes their red color, and it can be found throughout the skin of any fruit on a tomato plant. But lycopene isn’t a bad thing, quite the opposite, in fact! This phytochemical is a powerful nutrient that can protect your dog from the inside out. Feeding your dog tomatoes has plenty of advantages:

Benefits of Lycopene

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Improves cognition
  • Promotes good skin and vision
  • Great for muscle health
  • Promotes strong bones

The tomato fruit also contains beta carotene, which is another compound that helps give a ripe tomato its red tone. This compound can be found in vegetables and fruit that have yellow, orange, or red coloring. Beta carotene contains vitamin A, which can improve eyesight, among other great benefits.

The vitamin C in tomatoes is another excellent boost for your pup. This particular vitamin can support a dog’s immune system, raise their energy levels, and help dogs that suffer from reoccurring UTIs.

Are Tomatoes Bad for Dogs?

Some dogs love tomatoes, but not all dogs will be able to handle as much tomato as others, or they may even be intolerant to it. A dog that has a sensitive stomach should only be fed a very small amount of tomato when you first introduce the fruit to your dog. This way, you can be sure that you can monitor your dog for any adverse effects the fruit may have on them.

Tomatoes are a part of the nightshade family, along with potatoes. Though some dog foods contain tomatoes and dogs can eat tomatoes, it is possible for a dog to get tomato poisoning if they eat green tomatoes.

Is My Dog Allergic to Tomatoes?

Your dog could be allergic or intolerant to tomatoes. Like humans, not all dogs’ stomachs are built the same. Watch out for these signs if you’re worried about an allergic reaction:

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Hives

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, take your dog to a vet immediately.

In addition, wait until the fruit ripens before feeding it to your dog. Only the ripe ones are suitable for consumption, whether that be a human or a dog eating it. The good news is that your dog can enjoy tomatoes in many of the same ways you can, as long as you’re careful and watch what they eat.

The reason we’re cautioning you against leaving your dog alone with unripe tomatoes is because of a certain chemical that can be found in them.

Toxicity in Tomato Plants

Unripe tomatoes, and any green parts of the tomato plants that you may have in your garden, can be toxic to dogs. This includes the stems and leaves, as well as the vines around the fruit. All of these green areas contain a toxin by the name of solanine. Solanine poisoning occurs when large amounts of the toxin have been ingested. Your dog won’t be hurt by a small amount, by if they manage to eat a substantial amount of tomato plant or unripe tomato, a trip to an emergency vet is certainly a good call.

As well as solanine, tomatine can be found in the plant’s stems and leaves.

Signs of Solanine and Tomatine Poisoning

  • Upset stomach
  • Cardiac effects (a rapid heart rate, for example)
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

How Do I Tell if a Tomato is Ripe?

Red tomatoes that have a deep color and look plump and juicy are a good indication that the fruit is ready to be eaten. Survey your tomato garden for tomatoes that still have green parts and avoid picking those until they are completely red.

Dogs can only eat ripe tomatoes. Most dogs cannot tolerate large quantities of tomatoes, and considering the possible toxins, it’s not worth trying to feed too much of the fruit to your dog.

fresh tomatoes

Ways to Feed Tomato to Your Dog

In moderation, your dog can consume fresh tomatoes in a few different ways. Some pet food brands even include raw tomatoes as an ingredient because of all the amazing advantages that ripe fruit can have.

Obviously, feeding your dog a ripe tomato is one quick and easy way to give their diet a boost, but it’s kind of boring and you’ll likely avoid feeding them an entire tomato, which then creates waste. Cooked tomatoes are easy too, but you need to be careful about what you’re adding into your dog’s diet.

Red Sauce for Pasta

If you happen to make your own pasta sauce that has simple ingredients, you may be able to spare a small bowl of it for your dog. This should be an occasional treat because sauces can be pretty heavy and your recipe could contain foods that your dog shouldn’t be eating every day. Do some quick research to find out whether any of your standard sauce ingredients shouldn’t be fed to dogs.

As a quick example, you could let dogs eat a simple tomato sauce made of ripe tomato and olive oil.

Do not feed your dog canned or pre-made sauces. Many of these contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, including garlic, onions, and more. Also, too much salt can be very harmful to your dog, too.

Sun-dried Tomatoes

These smaller, oily tomatoes can be fed to your dog as long as the substance they are coated in doesn’t contain any ingredients toxic to dogs. Luckily, most sun-dried tomatoes are smothered in olive oil, which is fine for dogs.

Only feed your dog a small amount of these. One every three days is plenty.

Sources:

  1. Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes? – AKC
  2. Are Tomatoes Poisonous for Dogs? – PetMD
A former Special Forces Canine Handler, Destin Benoit has extensive knowledge and experience with military canine training. He has worked with multiple military dogs in the most stressful places and situations in the world. Currently, Destin is a SOC Canine Handler, aiding in the protection of US diplomats abroad.

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