If you’re a tomato lover like myself, you probably buy tomatoes often. You’ve probably even heard someone tell you that you’ll turn red from eating too many tomatoes (which hasn’t happened to me yet). And since you enjoy tomatoes so much, you might be wondering: can dogs eat tomatoes? Is it okay to share my yummy snack with my canine companion? Or maybe, despite all your efforts, your dog messes with the tomato plant in your yard, and you’re concerned about your pooch biting off more than is safe.
No matter the reason, the answer about whether dogs can eat tomatoes isn’t all that simple, because they can…and also can’t.
What Part of the Tomato Can Dogs Eat?
It’s generally safe for dogs to eat raw, ripe tomatoes in moderate amounts. Unripe tomatoes, along with the stems and plant, contain a high level of solanine, a substance that is toxic to dogs. While ripe tomatoes also have some level of solanine, most of it is contained in the green parts of tomatoes. If a tomato is red, then it’s more than likely safe to feed your dog.
Keep in mind, though, that ripe tomatoes do still contain solanine, so they shouldn’t be fed to your dog in large amounts. Providing them as an occasional treat should be just fine.
What Part of the Tomato Can Dogs Not Eat?
As mentioned above, it’s mainly the green parts of tomatoes that dogs should avoid. The plant, leaves, stems, and unripe tomatoes contain the highest concentrations of solanine, so they pose the highest danger. That isn’t to say that raw, ripe tomatoes are completely safe, but they pose little risk to your dog if fed in moderation. If you have a garden containing tomato plants, it might also be best to fence off the garden so as to keep your dog from getting too curious and trying out the flavor of your plant or unripe tomatoes.
Are Tomatoes Healthy for Dogs?
Despite the solanine found in tomatoes, they do have some health benefits for dogs. Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, as well as other beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamin C. They’re also low in calories and contain antioxidants, which is a substance that can help prevent heart disease, cancer, and other health problems. Tomatoes are healthy for humans, as well, so if you’re going to feed them to your dog, you might as well eat some, too.
That is, unless you or your dog is allergic. As with all foods, dogs can be allergic to tomatoes. If you’re unsure about whether your dog has a tomato allergy, watch your pup closely after feeding any tomatoes. If you see any sign of an allergic reaction (swelling, coughing, difficulty breathing), contact your vet right away.
How Do I Know if My Dog Ate Too Many Tomatoes?
Sometimes, dogs get into things that they shouldn’t, like the trash, garden, or even the refrigerator. If your dog happens to find a way to eating too many tomatoes, you might be worried about tomato poisoning. Though it’s more likely with unripe, green tomatoes, there is still a danger if your dog eats too many ripe, red tomatoes. So, how do you know if your dog ate too many tomatoes?
Some signs include seizures, tremors, weak muscles, a loss of coordination, and stomach upset. If you see your dog exhibiting any of these signs, contact your vet. Though dogs usually recover from tomato poisoning, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It would also be helpful in ruling out any possible underlying conditions.
Tomatoes of a Different Color
So, dogs can eat ripe, red tomatoes, but what about the other tomatoes, like the yellow and orange tomatoes? Are those tomatoes as safe for dogs as the red tomatoes most of us are accustomed to? Can dogs eat ripe tomatoes that aren’t red?
In short, there’s not much of a difference between tomatoes with different colors, aside from the unripe, green tomatoes. Some differently-colored tomatoes contain higher or lower concentrations of vitamins, but in general, they’re basically the same.
So, when it comes to tomatoes of different colors, they should be fine for your dog, so long as they’re ripe and free of leaves and stems.
How Should I Feed Tomatoes to My Dog?
If you’re concerned about the health and safety of your dog (as we all are), you might be wondering about the best ways to feed tomatoes to your dog. I always start by washing my tomatoes under warm water. Washing your tomatoes helps get rid of any dirt or other unsavory substances that might be sticking to the skin of your tomato. Though this probably doesn’t need to be said, I also check to make sure that none of the tomatoes have begun to mold. If I do see any signs of mold, I throw those tomatoes out.
Since dogs can eat tomatoes in moderation, it would be best to cut up a tomato so that you can feed your dog a couple slices, instead of an entire tomato. You can also consider buying cherry or grape tomatoes, as they’re already small. They could be used as a bite-size snack for your dog. Since they’re round, however, it might be safest to cut the cherry or grape tomatoes in half. This might be especially helpful if your dog likes to catch treats in midair.
You could also mash or cut up the tomatoes to add to your dog’s food as an occasional treat. This might be most helpful for dogs that have difficult chewing or are missing some teeth, as the tomatoes would be a lot easier for them to eat. Also, for those dogs that don’t much care for treats (they do exist, I promise), they would probably appreciate some new flavor in their regular meals.
As you can see, feeding tomatoes to your dog isn’t all that simple, but dogs can eat ripe tomatoes. Just remember to feed your dog ripe tomatoes in moderation. Avoid feeding them the tomato plant, stems, or leaves, and if you have a tomato plant in your garden, consider fencing it off (if you haven’t already). Also, don’t feed your dog unripe, green tomatoes, as it’s the green parts of tomatoes that contain the most solanine and are thus the most toxic. Tomato poisoning isn’t common, since your dog would have to consume a lot of solanine to get sick, but it can still happen.
So long as you’re careful and diligent, however, sharing your tasty tomato snack with your dog should be no problem.