Can My Dog Eat Tomatoes?
The answer's actually kind of complicated 🍅
When you’re slicing tomatoes for your sandwich, you might wonder if you can toss your dog the end pieces to snack on.
So, can dogs eat tomatoes safely?
Tomatoes are generally safe for dogs to eat in small quantities, but avoid feeding your dog unripe tomatoes, since they can be dangerous for pups.
We spoke with Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and veterinary consultant for Five Barks, to find out when your dog can and can’t eat tomatoes and what to watch out for.
Can dogs eat tomatoes safely?
Yes and no, depending on the individual tomato.
Dogs can eat ripe tomatoes and be totally fine — in fact, there are even some health benefits to giving your dog tomatoes.
“Ripe tomatoes are one of the many healthy fruits you can add to your dog’s dish as a treat,” Dr. Simon told The Dodo. “They are refreshing in summer and provide a sweet and satisfying crunch. They can be chopped up and fed raw or cooked.”
However, never give your pup unripe tomatoes, since tomatoes that haven’t fully ripened can be toxic to your dog.
“Owners are advised not to feed underripe tomatoes that are green,” Dr. Simon said. “If [you’re] unsure if the tomato you’re offering is fully ripe, put it aside.”
How are tomatoes good for dogs?
Ripe tomatoes are actually loaded with health benefits for your dog.
Packed with antioxidants and vitamins A and C, tomatoes can help support the immune system and keep your dog in shape.
They’re also high in fiber, which is great for your pup’s digestion, and a good option for weight management.
“They are low in calories and fat, so [they're] suitable for those looking to lose weight and who have underlying medical issues, such as pancreatitis,” Dr. Simon said.
How are tomatoes bad for dogs?
Tomatoes are really only bad for dogs if they’re underripe.
That’s because tomatoes are part of the nightshade family. Nightshade plants contain a poisonous chemical called solanine.
“Solanine can be toxic to dogs,” Dr. Simon said.
Tomatoes technically contain tomatine instead of solanine, which is essentially a less toxic version of that chemical. You’ll find concentrated amounts of tomatine in the green parts of a tomato, like underripe flesh stems and leaves.
“As well as being found in the green part of a tomato fruit, they are also contained within the leaves and stem,” Dr. Simon said. “These parts should never be fed.”
Signs of tomato poisoning in dogs
Dogs don’t develop tomato toxicity often, but if they eat enough underripe tomatoes, it’s definitely possible. So, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of tomato poisoning.
Symptoms of tomato toxicity include:
- Muscle tremors
- Loss of coordination
If you do notice any of these symptoms, bring your pup to the vet right away. And to keep him safe in the future, make sure the only tomatoes he has access to are the ones you give him directly.
“Toxicity most commonly occurs when a dog eats unripe tomatoes and vines from the garden,” Dr. Simon said. “While this is rare, it is important we minimize the risk by fencing off any tomato plants from our curious canines.”
So now you know that ripe tomatoes are perfectly safe — and even beneficial — to give your dog in moderation.
As long as you’re not giving him anything green or underripe, tomatoes will make a fun, juicy snack for your pup.