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Every dog owner knows how excited a pup gets at the sight of food, even if it’s human food. However, not all things we eat are safe for dogs, so it’s always best to do your research and check with your vet before you introduce a new product to your furry friend’s diet. If you are looking for a refreshing summer treat and wondering “Can dogs eat tomatoes?”, the answer isn’t as simple as you might think.
The bad news is that tomatoes are part of the nightshades family, which means they contain several substances that can be harmful to dogs, most importantly - solanine and tomatine. The good news is that a juicy, ripe tomato is safe for your dog to eat but always in moderation and only without the green bits because that’s where most of the potentially toxic substances are stored.
Are tomatoes healthy for dogs?
Yes, like all fruits and vegetables that dogs can eat, tomatoes are packed with fibres, beta-carotene, vitamins and antioxidants so they can definitely be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. Just make sure they are ripe and fresh!
Since tomatoes are a source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, they can be a great digestive aid for dogs. Plus, they are quite useful for keeping their blood sugar levels in check.
In terms of vitamins, there’s a whole lot the humble tomato can offer - from vitamin A and vitamin C to vitamin K. Good-quality tomatoes are packed with antioxidants making them an awesome immunity booster too.
Fresh ripe tomatoes, as well as cooked tomatoes and tomato pomace (made of the flesh, skin and seeds of tomatoes but without the liquid), are both safe for dogs and are often added to dog food due to their numerous health benefits.
When are tomatoes poisonous for dogs?
Tomatine and solanine are the two main culprits for tomatoes having such a bad reputation for being poisonous to dogs. Realistically, ripe tomatoes contain negligible amounts of these which is why they are considered safe to eat. Unripe tomatoes have a higher concentration of these substances, so eating too many of those could be harmful to your dog. However, the potential toxicity of green tomatoes is very low, so the risk of poisoning isn’t high even if your furry friend happens to gobble up one or two.
The real problem lies with tomato stems and tomato leaves. The green parts of the tomato are where solanine and tomatine are found in the highest concentration. This is why you should always remove the green bits before giving your pooch a tomato as a treat. Also, if you have a garden, make sure there are no tomato plants within reach of your dog to avoid accidental poisoning.
The chemicals used in gardening to help tomato plants grow can also be potentially harmful to dogs. This is why it’s important to wash the tomatoes well before you serve them to your dog.
How many tomatoes are too many?
Having mentioned that tomatoes are safe for dogs to eat in moderation, it’s only natural for you to ask how many tomatoes you can give your dog without making them sick. As with most questions regarding dog nutrition, this depends on the size of your dog and their specific dietary needs.
Generally speaking, in a nutritionally balanced diet, treats, even if they are healthy, shouldn’t make more than 10% of your dog’s daily food intake. You should stick to the 90/10 rule when it comes to tomatoes too. Don’t forget to vary the fruits and the vegetables that you feed your dog - it makes treats that little bit more fun!
What happens if a dog eats too many tomatoes?
Tomatoes have high levels of acidity, in addition to low levels of the potentially poisonous substance we mentioned earlier. This means that if your four-legged buddy eats too many tomatoes, it could lead to tomato poisoning. That being said, tomato poisoning in dogs is extremely rare though and it is usually caused by an excessive amount of tomatoes being consumed while still unripe or with all the leaves and stems attached.
To be on the safe side, watch out for the common symptoms of tomato poisoning. These include upset stomach, drowsiness, diarrhoea, vomiting, confusion and faster-than-normal heart rate. If you think your dog might be showing signs of tomato poisoning, call your vet for advice immediately.
In rare cases, dogs could also be allergic to tomatoes and if that's the case, eating even a little bit of tomato could lead to an allergic reaction. If your pooch shows any signs of an allergic reaction after eating tomatoes, including hives, sneezing, coughing, swelling or difficulty breathing, this could be a medical emergency and you should seek medical attention immediately.
To avoid any issues, make sure to introduce tomatoes to your dog’s diet cautiously and in small quantities at first. Observe how they react and pay attention to any possible symptoms before you decide to share any more tomatoes with your four-legged friend.
Do dogs even like tomatoes?
Good question! Although dogs can eat tomatoes, not all pups like them. Some dogs absolutely love the juicy texture of tomatoes and the sweet refreshing taste that comes with it but some will simply spit the tomatoes out and never look back. It’s a question of personal preference, really. So, whether your pooch loves or hates tomatoes is a question you can only answer by trying it out. If your vet has nothing against your four-legged friend eating a tomato, you can give your pooch a small slice or a perfectly ripe cherry tomato and see how they react. If they love it you may have found yourself a new and refreshing healthy treat to add to their diet!