Yes, dogs can eat tomatoes, but only if they are ripe. Unripe tomatoes could be hazardous to your dog's health. Also, other parts of the plant may be toxic, so make sure you only feed the fruit of the plant, and remove all leaves and stems.
Ripe Tomatoes Can Be Beneficial
Tomatoes can be beneficial to your dog's health. Tomatoes include a lot of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. When the liquid is removed from the pulp, leaving only the fibrous components of the fruit, it has more fiber than whole tomatoes. Fiber promotes healthy digestion and keeps your dog's blood sugar levels in check. Tomatoes are also high in antioxidants and vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which means they include a few compounds that are toxic to some animals, such as solanine. Tomato plants produce some solaine, as well as a similar chemical called tomatine, which is less toxic than solanine. In significant amounts, these compounds can be toxic to dogs, and the highest quantities of these chemicals are present in the stem and leaves of tomato plants.
How Much Tomato Your Dog Can Safely Consume
Most dogs can safely consume a few slices of a raw, mature, ripe tomato in moderation. The flesh of the tomato is an excellent source of vital vitamins and minerals, and some dog diets incorporate it as an ingredient.
Dogs with kidney problems or arthritis should avoid tomatoes. Tomatoes do include oxalates, which are a type of organic acid present in plants and aren't recommended for dogs that have kidney problems. Tomatoes should be avoided by dogs with arthritis, as foods from the nightshade family have been known to aggravate arthritis symptoms.
Tomato Poisoning Symptoms
It is unusual for a dog to consume leaves and stems from a tomato plant, but it doees happen, especially if a dog is eating raw tomatoes directly off the plant. Tomato poisoning symptoms include the following, which are only likely to occur in dogs who consume the entire plant, a large number of plants, or immature fruit:
- Coordination Problems
- Irregular heartbeat
How to Prepare Tomatoes for Dogs
If your veterinarian says your dog can eat tomatoes, choose ripe, red tomatoes with the leaves, vines, and stems removed.
Rinse the tomato thoroughly, especially if it isn't organic, as non-organic produce contains pesticides and herbicides that can make your dog sick. Serve the tomatoes to your pet raw, without any salt or other additives.
Check the ingredient list of any tomato-based product you offer your dog, such as soup or sauce, for potentially dangerous additives. It is always preferable to use fresh tomatoes that have been prepared at home.
If you have tomato plants, make sure your pet can't get to them and eat any unripe tomatoes or plant green bits. If you're going to keep a tomato plant indoors, make sure it's in a pot that's not touching the ground. If you're planting tomatoes in your garden or yard, set up a fence around them.
If your dog still manages to get to the tomato plants, consult with your veterinarian. Keep an eye out for the signs listed above and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.
Consult With Your Veterinarian
If your dog has any medical issues, or if you are concerned or have questions about feeding your dog tomatoes, make an appointment with your veterinarian. If you would feel more comfortable speaking to a holistic veterinarian, you can find one with the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association directory. Overall, tomatoes are safe for healthy dogs as long as they are ripe, red, and do not contain any green portions of the plant.