As pup parents, there are certain edible no-no’s that are more commonly known than others. (For example, chocolate, grapes and xylitol.) But one semi-elusive food you might still wonder about is tomatoes. Tomatoes are healthy for humans, but can dogs eat tomatoes? Let’s find out.
“There is nothing better than a fresh, juicy, red Jersey tomato,” Dr. Lands says. “Whether you purchase it in a grocery store or grow it in your backyard, these fruits are safe for dogs to eat as a snack.”
So, what are the points to remember when thinking, “Can dogs eat tomatoes?” Let’s examine a few here.
Tomatoes are safe for dogs if they’re fresh but — as with feeding your dog any kind of human food — there are risks. First, Dr. Lands advises washing the tomato, or any fruit, before serving it to your dog.
“Before eating any fruit, I highly recommend washing it off with water and cutting it into bite-size pieces for your pup,” Dr. Lands says.
Tomatoes, which are considered part of the nightshade family of vegetables, contain two risky components: solanine and tomatine. Unfortunately, solanine and tomatine won’t be washed off after running the tomato under water, so there’s more information that you need to know when thinking, “Can dogs eat tomatoes?”
Solanine is found in the green part of the tomato plant — the stem and leaves primarily. In large amounts, solanine is detrimental to dogs. When feeding your dogs tomatoes, they should be ripe, served devoid of any green parts and chopped into chewable bites.
“The green portions of the plant contain tomatine and solanine, two toxins that can have serious effects on your dog,” Dr. Lands adds.
However, because solanine is located in the green parts of the tomato plant, feeding your dog a ripe, red tomato is fine. As long as doggo is eating ripe tomatoes as an occasional treat (not all the time), then ingesting tomatoes is perfectly safe for your pupper.
As Dr. Lands mentions above, a very important thing to remember when thinking, “Can dogs eat tomatoes?” is that the stems and leaves of the tomato plant — any part of the tomato that is not ripe or is green, for that matter — cannot be fed to dogs. Why? The stem and leaves both contain tomatine and solanine, which are two components that are toxic to dogs.
“Dogs cannot eat any part of the tomato plant that is green, including the stem, leaves and immature tomatoes,” Dr. Lands explains. “Tomatine is a glycoalkaloid that, if ingested, may lead to vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Solanine, the other toxic component of the tomato plant, may cause some serious side effects if ingested in very large quantities.”
The next question after asking, “Can dogs eat tomatoes?” is — “What should you do if your dog does eat the toxic parts of tomatoes?” If your dog ingests the stem, leaves or a green tomato that is not yet ripe, the following symptoms may occur.
“Dogs may show signs of drowsiness, depression, confusion or weakness,” Dr. Lands explains. “They may also develop a slow heart rate or dilated pupils. If your dog ingested a tomato plant and is suffering from any of these symptoms, please call a veterinarian.”
You may have noticed Fido’s head perking up a little extra on Pasta Sundays. If that’s the case, you might be wondering, “Can dogs eat tomatoes in the form of tomato sauce?”
“Dogs can eat tomatoes in sauce and can even have the sauce over a nice bowl of linguini,” Dr. Lands says. “With that being said, many of the ingredients in pasta sauce are toxic to dogs.”
So, what does that mean? Serving your pup a dog bowl of plain linguine, covered in mostly plain tomato sauce is fine and safe. However, dogs should not ingest any kind of seasonings, including onion or garlic.
While linguine with a bit of butter or seasoning-free tomato sauce is okay, any kind of red tomato sauce that is heavily seasoned is a risk to feed your dog.
As mentioned above, feeding your dog sauce with any kind of seasoning is not a veterinarian-recommended idea. However, salt and pepper in low doses are acceptable.
“Avoid all onions and garlic, as these are toxins and potentially deadly if ingested in high amounts,” Dr. Lands explains. “Spices and seasonings such as salt and pepper are safe as long as you control the portion size.”
In conclusion, the final answer to, “Can dogs eat tomatoes?” is that plain, ripe tomatoes are safe for your dog if prepared correctly without the leaves or stems. In the event that your dog ingests the green part of a tomato plant or you believe that your dog is exhibiting symptoms that indicate she has ingested a toxic amount of tomatoes, then contact your veterinarian immediately.
Thumbnail: Photography © M_a_y_a | E+ / Getty Images.