Is it ok to feed dogs tomatoes? While I’m cooking or working on food prep, I’ve been known, every now and then, to “drop” little tidbits for my dogs. There are lots of human foods that can make healthy snacks, in moderation, for dogs! Ever since he was a pup, one food my now 14-year-old papillon, Kitsune, has enjoyed has been tomatoes. Every time I slice tomatoes, Kitsune comes running into the kitchen to eagerly await his snackrifice. I’ve never known another dog to love tomatoes as much as he does! So by now, you may be wondering, are tomatoes dog safe?
Only Ripe Tomatoes are Dog Safe
Ripe red tomatoes are safe, in moderation, for dogs. However, unripe, green tomatoes and all parts of a tomato plant, besides the ripe fruit, should be kept away from dogs. Tomato plants are a member of the nightshade family. Like other nightshades, the plant produces a chemical, called solanine, that is toxic to dogs (as well as to people!) in large quantities. Luckily, when tomato fruit ripens the amount of solanine is dramatically decreased. Solanine levels in ripe tomatoes are low enough that they are no longer considered to be dangerous to consume.
Besides green, unripe tomatoes, solanine in toxic levels is also found in tomato leaves, stems, and roots. If you grow your own tomatoes, it’s important to make sure your dogs don’t nipple on any part of tomato plants or eat dropped, unripe fruit.
Signs of Solanine Poisoning in Dogs
How quickly, and intensely, a dog is impacted by solanine poisoning can depend on a number of factors, such as the size and general health of the dog, as well as how much solanine he or she was exposed to. In small amounts, solanine can cause GI upset but no other, major symptoms. In larger quantities, however, more serious side effects could include the following:
- More intense GI symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Lack of coordination
- Cardiac issues (abnormal heart rate)
Luckily, with swift treatment, most dogs recover well from solanine poisoning. Treatment normally consists of supportive therapy, such as administering fluids to keep your dog hydrated and medications to manage any heart irregularities.
Tomato Allergies & Other Issues
Although this is rare, dogs can also be allergic to tomatoes. Signs to look out for include GI upset, hives, coughing, swelling, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms after trying a new food, contact your vet.
Like in people, tomatoes can cause some dogs to experience excess stomach acid. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, or a health concern such as acid reflux, it’s best to avoid acidic foods such as tomatoes.
Are There Any Benefits to Feeding Dogs Ripe Tomatoes?
Like many other fresh produce, tomatoes are low in calories but high in fiber. This can make them a good alterative to high calorie treats, especially for dogs who are trying to watch their weight. Tomatoes also also a source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and antioxidants. Lycopene, the antioxidant responsible for making ripe tomatoes red, has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer in humans.
How to Feed Tomatoes to Your Dog
I’ve always just offered Kitsune, my tomato fiend, small pieces of fresh, ripe tomatoes. When it comes to dogs and tomatoes, fresh is best! Canned tomatoes, or tomatoes that have been made into soups or sauces, will contain a lot of other ingredients, such as sugars and salts, that are best avoided for our canine companions.
Comment below! Do your dogs like tomatoes? I’ve always thought it was funny how excited my Kitsune gets over them!