October 9, 2020

Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?

Risks, Benefits & Serving Size

Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

A popular question when caring for or feeding any animal is, "can they eat human food?". While some foods are perfectly safe for your pet, others are not. When feeding your canine friend, it is not generally recommended to feed any table scraps to them.

However, some foods are safe to feed to your dog as long as they are not given very often. Tomatoes are among these "every once in a while" foods. So if your pet gets a hold of some tomatoes, there shouldn't be any issues.

Just because tomatoes are safe for humans to eat doesn't mean they are safe for dogs, as dogs are very different. Keep reading to find out what exactly tomatoes can do for your dog and the potential risks of your pup eating them. 

Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?

Yes, dogs can eat tomatoes. Ripe tomatoes can be a healthy snack for your canine, although as a nightshade plant, the tomato stems, leaves, and unripe fruit contain solanine, which is a toxin. Also, make sure not to exceed the recommendations when feeding tomatoes to your dog to avoid any negative reactions.

Ripe tomatoes are nontoxic to dogs and can be fed to them every once in a while. Tomatoes can be extremely rich in beneficial nutrients that can be very good for your dog.

Small amounts of ripe tomatoes can make a nice, safe treat for your dog, but avoid feeding them unripe tomatoes, leaves, or stems as these can be dangerous if ingested.
- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Make sure that your dog is only consuming the actual product of tomato plants. This means that they should not consume the actual vegetation of the plant – no stem, leaves, flowers, or unripe tomatoes.

Tomatoes that are mature enough to be considered as "ripe" are very low in calories. They also have a high-fiber content, and fiber can be great for digestion.

Dogs, like humans, require a nutritional balance that is moderated. If a dog's dietary needs are not met correctly, harm can come to them.

If you are purchasing a dog food product with tomato, check the nutrition label to see exactly how much is in the item. While there are many benefits of tomatoes, always keep in mind that they should be fed in moderation to your pup.

Health Benefits: Are Tomatoes Good for Dogs?

Yes, tomatoes are generally good for dogs. But why is this?

Tomatoes consist of many nutrients, some of these being vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene. All of these can be extremely beneficial to canines.

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A is a fantastic nutrient for dogs. While it is commonly found in carrots, it can also be found in tomatoes! This vitamin will help with your pup's growth and development, as well as immune function!

cherry tomatoes on table

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is great for both humans and dogs. Vitamin C is also a necessary supplement for your dog's health. Part of the reason that this nutrient is so important is that it is an antioxidant.

Vitamin C tends to boost the immune systems as well. With this being said, it is a good idea for your dog to have the right amount of Vitamin C in them at all times. However, tomatoes may not be the best source of this.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a wonderful addition to your dog's diet. While it is not essential, it is helpful! This nutrient is commonly found in red-colored foods (like tomatoes, watermelon, and more). The great thing about lycopene is that it is an antioxidant.

Fiber 

Fiber can be extremely beneficial to dogs. Fiber helps with your dog's digestive system and can prevent any bad bacteria from overpopulating. Studies have also been done that claim that fiber may reduce canine colon cancer risks. Lastly, it can relieve and/or prevent dogs from unfavorable bowel issues, such as constipation or diarrhea.

Health Risks: Are Tomatoes Bad for Dogs?

While ripe tomatoes are safe for dogs when fed in moderation, there are a few health risks to ingesting them.

Again, do not let your dog consume any part of the plant itself or unripe tomatoes. Also, do not feed them too many or large amounts of ripe tomatoes.

Stems, Leaves, and Unripe Tomatoes are Dangerous

The stems and leaves of tomato plants ARE toxic to dogs. Therefore, if you are growing these plants or have them near any dogs – ensure that they are fenced off.

Unripe tomatoes are also toxic to dogs. The reason behind this toxicity is that stems, leaves, and unripe tomatoes contain high levels of solanine. Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants, and therefore their green parts contain solanine, which is dangerous to canines if consumed in large amounts.

Make sure that your dog is only receiving fully ripe tomatoes and that they don't chew on any leaves of stems.

Negative Reactions

Symptoms of poisoning after consuming the plants or unripe tomatoes can be tremors, coordination loss, weakness in muscles, an upset stomach, and cardiac issues.

Most of these negative reactions are rare. However, it is crucial to keep an eye on any dog that may have consumed something that they shouldn't have.

There is also a potential for your pet to have an allergic reaction to tomatoes (as this can happen with exposure to anything new). Watch for symptoms such as hives, swelling, coughing, or signs of troubled breathing.

If your pet ingests any unwanted pieces of tomato or tomato plant or shows signs of a bad reaction, contact your vet immediately. It is always best to consult a qualified veterinarian before (and after, if necessary) purposely giving an animal any new items that you are unsure of.

Too Much Tomato is Possible 

Although tomatoes have a significant amount of health benefits, too many can be dangerous. With almost every animal, too much of something can be harmful. With tomatoes, it is because of all of the nutrients in them.

Dogs require certain levels of different nutrients in their body. If they consume too many, a visit to your local veterinarian may be in your future.

However, this trip can be avoided if you give your dog tomatoes in moderation and look up what nutrition levels are right for your dog (breed, size, weight, etc.).

Feeding Guidelines: Tomatoes for Dogs

  • Tomatoes should always be ripe before serving.
  • Before serving any to your dog, you need to make sure that there are no unwanted pieces on the tomato.
  • All stems and leaves should be removed, and the dog should not have access to these pieces.

Ripe tomatoes can be served to your dog in many ways. They can be added to their regular food or even served to them as treats!

Many fruits and vegetables can make a nice healthy treat for your pet, but treats, in general, should make up no more than 10% of their diet.
- Dr. Leoni McKinlay, DVM

No matter how you decide to give tomatoes to your pet, make sure that it is a small amount. Also, make sure that they are not being fed this "treat" very frequently. Too much of a serving or too many tomatoes, in general, is not safe for a dog.

Nutrition Facts

The water content of tomatoes is 95%. Although it can be a great hydrating treat on a hot day, feeding your dog too much of this watery fruit can cause stomach upsets. The remaining 5% consists of carbohydrates and fiber.

A 100 grams of tomato contains approximately:

  • Calories: 18
  • Water: 95%
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Sugar: 2.6 grams
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

As you can see, tomatoes are low sugar and low-fat food and, therefore, a healthy treat for your dog.

Tomatoes can be very good for dogs, as they have many benefits. If you plan on adding them to a dog's diet – just ensure that this is not the only source of certain nutrients, as there are foods out there that can be fed in normal amounts and meet their health needs.

Bottom line: Can Dogs Have Tomatoes?

Overall, any dog that consumes a ripe tomato should be fine, as ripe tomatoes can be good for them. Many dog foods actually have traces of tomato or tomato products in them.

Do not fear if you witness a dog snatch a piece of ripe tomato off a plant or dig it out of the trash. As long as the tomato was matured, they should be okay.

If your dog has eaten the stems and leaves of tomato plants or unripe tomatoes, you should keep an eye on them for the rest of the day. If you notice anything strange about the dog, go to a qualified veterinarian. If they did not get ahold of too much, the chances of a negative reaction are low.

If you decide to let a dog eat tomatoes, just ensure that they are ripe and have no access to the stem or leaves. When feeding them tomatoes, they should not receive an overabundance of this vegetable.

Vet's Comment

Small amounts of ripe tomatoes can make a nice, safe treat for your dog, but avoid feeding them unripe tomatoes, leaves, or stems as these can be dangerous if ingested. Most dogs love it when you share a few pieces of ripe tomato from your salad with them.

Many fruits and vegetables can make a nice healthy treat for your pet, but treats, in general, should make up no more than 10% of their diet.

Some dogs have very sensitive stomachs or food allergies, and these dogs should stick with their regular diet to avoid gastrointestinal upset. Ask your vet if you are unsure if you should try tomatoes with your dog.

- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Leonie McKinlay

DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay has always had a special fondness for animals and knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Calgary and then her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Since graduation, Dr. McKinlay has been working at the same small animal practice, caring for dogs and cats.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your dog's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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