In Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes Shannon Cutts investigates the safety and potential risks of feeding this popular salad vegetable to our dogs
Feeding your Labrador tomatoes is a tricky business.
Although you might have heard they can have some health benefits, there are also some serious potential risks if you don’t do it right.
So let’s take a look at whether tomatoes are safe for dogs, whether they are bad or good for dogs, and which tomato containing products, if any, it’s okay to feed to your Lab.
Can dogs have tomatoes? The answer is slightly less simple than you might have hoped – “yes and no.”
As you will learn during our investigation here, some parts of the tomato plant are safe for dogs to eat. Other parts, however, can be very toxic.
And in certain rare cases, your dog may actually be allergic to tomatoes (hey, it happens to people too!).
But when your cute pup looks up at you with those adorable round liquid eyes just as you are biting into a delicious slice of pizza with fresh vine-ripe tomatoes, of course you want to share!
After reading this guide, you will be able to answer the question “Are tomatoes poisonous to dogs?” and decide whether or not to let your pooch have a sample.
Are tomatoes safe for dogs?
When it comes to tomatoes and dogs, it is very important which parts you feed your friend.
Some parts of the tomato plant are safe for dogs and some are not safe.
Here are the parts you should NOT EVER let your dog eat:
– Immature GREEN tomatoes
The reason your dog must not eat these parts of the tomato plant is because they contain high amounts of a toxic substance called tomatine.
The stems, leaves, roots and immature green tomatoes can each contain up to 5 percent concentration.
Five percent concentration is quite a lot!
Tomatine is a form of solanine, a poison common to all plants in the nightshade family, including tomatoes.
But what about ripe, red tomatoes? Don’t they contain solanine/tomatine too?
The answer is “yes,” but ripe, red tomatoes contain only trace amounts of tomatine.
This makes ripe tomatoes generally safe for dogs 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.
Of course, the big safety challenge here is if you decide you want to grow organic tomatoes in your backyard garden.
As you know, when it comes to tomatoes and dogs, if it looks off-limits to your pup, it is quite likely he will want to get into it straightaway!
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.
Are tomatoes good for dogs?
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 as a food source are actually quite nutrient-rich.
Reason being, tomatoes are low-calorie and high in fiber. They contain large amounts of the carotenoids lycopene and beta-carotene, which can fight off disease.
Tomatoes are also packed with anti-oxidant vitamins – specifically, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin C.
They have a lot to offer in the minerals department as well, packed as they are with folate, chromium and potassium.
What can tomatoes contribute to body function and health?
How about each of the following benefits:
- 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 & A: maintains healthy skin and supports faster wound healing.
As your dog’s owner, when it comes to tomatoes dogs health, you get to make the final call on whether you think the possible benefits outweigh the potential risks.
Are tomatoes bad for dogs?
The answer to this question is: “yes and no.”
We now know tomato plant leaves, stems, roots and immature green tomatoes are potentially toxic to dogs.
However, ripe, red, mature tomatoes have sufficient nutrient and health benefits that it may be worth offering your Labrador a ripe tomato treat now and again.
One thing you should do before letting your dog eat ripe tomatoes is to remove the skin or wash the tomato thoroughly with a vegetable wash solution.
This is especially important if the tomatoes are not organic. Organic produce is grown and processed without use of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, dyes, genetic engineering or synthetic agents of any kind.
If there is any part of a ripe, red tomato that may contain other unknown toxins, chemicals or poisons, it is the skin. This can even be the case with organic tomatoes, since the skin can pick up toxins circulating in the outside air.
Once you remove the skin of a ripe, red tomato, all things considered, your dog can generally enjoy tomatoes for dogs safely in moderation.
Can dogs be allergic to tomatoes?
The answer to this question is a simple “yes.” Tomato allergies in dogs are not common, but it can happen.
Unfortunately, there is no real way to know in advance whether your furry sidekick will be one of those rare dogs who are allergic to tomatoes.
The only way to know for sure is to feed your dog tomatoes and then wait about 30 minutes. If your dog has a tomato allergy, you will likely see some or all of these symptoms:
- Licking feet.
- Itching skin.
- Hot pink or red ear skin.
- Skin rashes.
- Growling stomach.
Here, it is also worth mentioning that the symptoms of a tomato allergy will look different than the symptoms of tomato poisoning.
If your dog has tomato (tomatine) poisoning, the ASPCA warns that 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.
It goes without saying that if your dog displays any of these symptoms, you should rush him to a veterinary urgent care clinic right away!
How much tomato can dogs eat?
When it comes to Labradors, “where there’s a will, there’s a way” seems to be the standard species motto.
In other words, spend any amount of quality time in canine lover circles, and you are bound to hear a story or two about “that time my pup got into my tomato garden and ate….”
You are also likely to hear that the pup in question survived her adventures. Thankfully, modern veterinary medicine has more than a few miracles up its sleeve.
While there is no hard and fast rule regarding how many ripe, red tomatoes a dog should be permitted to eat, one good rule of thumb is to feed a smaller dog fewer tomatoes.
Also, if your dog is trying ripe, red tomatoes for the first time, only offer a slice or two until you know for sure how he will respond.
One large or two smaller red, ripe tomatoes fed as a weekly treat will give your dog the benefit of all the nutrients in tomatoes without exposing him to any potential issues from the tomatine.
Can dogs eat cherry tomatoes?
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, although you may want to feed a lesser quantity of a larger tomato.
Are tomato plants poisonous to dogs?
The answer here is unequivocally “yes.”
Stems, leaves, roots and immature green tomatoes are all poisonous to dogs.
Green tomatoes and dogs
You should never feed green tomatoes to your dog. They contain up to 5 percent tomatine and are highly toxic to dogs.
If your dog inadvertently gets into your garden and eats green tomatoes, it is best to seek veterinary care right away. If your regular vet is not available, take your dog to an urgent care or poison control vet clinic ASAP.
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.
You can let your Lab 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 dogs eat tomato sauce?
Eating cooked tomatoes has actually been shown to aid in absorption of their nutrients, especially lycopene, which offers a potential smorgasboard of potent health benefits.
However, take care when feeding cooked tomatoes in any situation where you don’t know whether ONLY ripe, red, mature tomatoes have been used to make the tomato sauce.
Also, be sure you know what other ingredients may have been added to the tomatoes before allowing your dog to try some.
For example, two common complementary ingredients in tomato-based dishes, onions and garlic, can be toxic to dogs.
Can dogs eat tomato soup?
The main reason why you may not want to let your dog eat tomato soup is because of the other ingredients that may be added to the soup, such as sodium, flavorings, spices, onions, garlic or dairy.
These additional ingredients may be harmful or toxic to your dog.
Can dogs 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 should I do if my dog eats tomatoes?
If your dog eats ripe, red, mature tomatoes, just watch her for the next hour to make sure she doesn’t exhibit any signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction or tomatine poisoning.
If your dog eats immature green tomatoes but only a trace amount (like a thin slice), watch her for the next hour to see if she shows any signs of tomatine poisoning. With only minor ingestion, some dogs may show symptoms and other dogs may be just fine.
If your dog eats a larger quantity of immature green tomatoes, it is best to contact your vet right away to make an urgent care appointment just in case.
If your regular vet is not available for any reason, make plans take your dog to an urgent care vet clinic ASAP if symptoms develop.
Can dogs eat tomatoes?
Dogs can eat tomatoes in a few specific scenarios. However you will need to weigh up the potential risks with the possible benefits.
Never feed your dog green tomatoes, or a tomato based product which may have other ingredients that could disagree with him.
In the vast majority of cases, offering your dog the occasional ripe, red, mature tomato treat will potentially enhance her overall health. But in a small minority of cases, however, allergic reaction is a possible risk.
Ultimately, she is your dog, and it is your call!
- Hall, H., M.D., “Killer Tomatoes and Poisonous Potatoes?,” Science-Based Medicine, 2012.
- Szalay, J., “Tomatoes: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts,” Live Science, 2016.
- Basko, I, DVM, “Ask Dr. B – Are Tomatoes Toxic To Pets?,” Holistic Vet, 2013.
- Raines, E., DVM, “Are Tomatoes Toxic to Dogs,” Vet Info, 2011.
- Paredes, R., “Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes? Read This Before You’re Red In The Face,” Dog Pack, 2016.