Your garden variety tomatoes contain a range of nutrients that are good for dogs. But tomatoes also contain a chemical called tomatine, which is toxic to your dog in high concentrations. Tomatine levels are lower in ripe tomatoes, and smaller varieties. Your dog can eat morsels of ripe cherry tomatoes, but tomatine levels are dangerously high in the roots and green parts of your tomato plant.
Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
While the jury is still out in some circles regarding whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables (as of 1883, the Supreme Court has sided with the vegetable advocates), no nutrition expert will deny that tomatoes are actually nutrient-rich. But that doesn’t mean they come in a form your dog can eat.
Are Tomatoes Good For Your Dog?
Your typical cherry, beefsteak or grape tomato is low in calories and high in fiber. They contain large amounts of the carotenoids lycopene and beta-carotene, which can help you fight off diseases.
Tomatoes are packed with minerals anti-oxidant vitamins – specifically, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin C, folate, chromium and potassium.
Some positive effects of the nutrients in tomatoes include:
- Lycopene: reduces risk of heart disease and stroke, promotes strong, healthy bones, aids in cancer prevention.
- Beta-carotene: wards off metabolic syndrome and improves cognition.
- Vitamin C: improves immune response and reduces risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Potassium: promotes healthy blood pressure, nerves and muscles.
- Vitamin A: aids in good eyesight.
- Fiber: ensures healthy digestion.
- Vitamins C and A: maintains healthy skin and supports wound healing.
But your dog doesn’t need an extra portion of these nutrients, even discounting the other harmful parts. Your dog gets everything he needs from his complete kibble, raw or wet food diet.
When Are Tomatoes Bad For Your Dog?
The stems, leaves, and roots, and immature green tomatoes can each contain up to 5 percent concentration of tomatine. Five percent concentration is a lot!
This can pose a challenge if you’re growing tomatoes in your backyard. You know well that if something looks off-limits, your dog will make a beeline for it! So if you decide to grow organic tomatoes, be sure you install a pooch-proof perimeter fence or place your potted tomato plants well out of reach of your dog.
Signs Of Tomato Poisoning In Dogs
If your dog has tomato (tomatine) poisoning, these are the symptoms you are likely to see:
- Tremors or convulsions
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of coordination
- Severe gastrointestinal distress
- Cardiac distress
- Dilated pupils
- Behavioral changes
Symptoms of a tomato allergy will look different than the symptoms of tomato poisoning. If your dog has a tomato allergy, you will see some or all of these symptoms:
- Licking feet
- Itching skin
- Hot pink or red ear skin
- Skin rashes
- Growling stomach
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Tomatoes?
If your dog gets into your garden and eats green tomatoes, contact your veterinarian or your local poison control vet clinic. Ingesting trace amounts of green tomatoes can be okay, but still observe your pup for a while to be on the safe side.
If your dog eats ripe, red, mature tomatoes, you can watch her for the next hour to make sure she doesn’t exhibit any signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction or tomatine poisoning.
Can Your Dog Eat Ripe Tomatoes?
Ripe, red tomatoes contain only trace amounts of tomatine. This makes ripe tomatoes generally safe for your dog to eat every so often as a treat. However, just to be safe, you probably don’t want to feed even ripe, red tomatoes to a young dog, since puppy immune systems are still developing during the first year of life.
Can Dogs Eat Cherry Tomatoes?
These small, sweet fruits are a popular favorite with humans. So long as the tomato treat is ripe and red in color, no variety of tomato is off-limits. You can safely feed cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes and other varietals. However, you may want to feed a lesser quantity of a larger tomato.
What About Grape Tomatoes?
The same goes for grape tomatoes. Another popular snack favorite, it’s tempting to toss a grape tomato to your pup while you’re enjoying them yourself. Just remember to make sure it is fully ripe, and only give them in moderation. It’s worth noting that grapes themselves are dangerous for your dog — but grape tomatoes are not actually related to grapes!
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Tomatoes?
Cooked tomatoes deliver the potent anti-oxidant lycopene in a form the body is more easily able to absorb, which is one benefit of eating cooked rather than raw ripe, red tomatoes. So can your dog have tomatoes that are cooked?
You can let your dog eat pure, ripe, red cooked tomatoes occasionally as a treat. However, be SURE that no green or less mature ripe tomatoes were added during the cooking process, as these can be toxic to your dog. Also be sure the cooked tomatoes do not contain any additional ingredients, such as sodium, spices or additives that may be harmful to your dog.
Can Your Dog Eat Canned Tomatoes?
In the case of canned tomatoes, so long as the tomatoes used are sourced from ripe, red, mature tomatoes only, they should be safe for your dog to eat. But it is also a good idea to check the ingredients list first. Here, you are checking to be sure no additional ingredients, such as sodium or preservatives, have been added to the canned tomatoes. If you see these additives, it is best not to feed the canned tomatoes to your dog.
What About Cherry Tomatoes in Soup?
The main reason not to let your dog eat tomato soup is because other ingredients may have been added to the soup, such as sodium, flavorings, spices, onions, garlic or dairy. These additional ingredients may be harmful or toxic to your dog. If you’re not sure about any of the ingredients, it is best to avoid giving it to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Tomato Sauce?
Eating cooked tomatoes has actually been shown to aid in absorption of their nutrients, especially lycopene, which offers a potential range of potent health benefits. However, take care to only give your dog cooked tomatoes or tomato sauce when you know only ripe, red, mature tomatoes were used.
Also, be sure you know what other ingredients may have been added to the sauce before allowing your dog to try some. For example, two common complementary ingredients in tomato-based dishes, onions and garlic, can be toxic to your dog.
Can Dogs Have Tomato Juice?
Again, it’s important to look at the potential additives in tomato juice to make sure that there isn’t anything that could be harmful to your pup. If the tomato juice is made from pure, ripe tomatoes, then it should be safe in small quantities for your dog. However, it’s unlikely that a dog would want to drink much tomato juice. A tongue-lap or two will probably be enough for him!
Can Dogs Eat Cherry Tomatoes as a Paste?
Similarly to tomato sauce listed above, the concern is what may have been added to the paste. If it is just pure tomato paste from ripe tomatoes, such as in a designed-for-dogs pizza recipe, it should be safe in moderation.
Can Dogs Eat Sun-Dried Tomatoes?
Once again, the concern is not so much about the tomatoes themselves, since sun-dried tomatoes are usually made from ripe tomatoes. But they are also often sold packed in oil or with other additives, such as garlic and other seasonings, that may be detrimental to your dog’s health. If you make sun-dried tomatoes at home, they are likely to be made from ripe, peeled, organic tomatoes — and they should be fine for your pup.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website