Can Dogs Have Tomatoes? 10 Facts Vets Want Dog Owners to Know
Puppy Owners Often Ask, “Can Dogs Have Tomatoes?” – Especially During Gardening Season
If you love to garden and you are nurturing some lovely tomato plants, you might be tempted to offer your pup a little taste. Is this safe?
It’s not as simple as yes or no. The answer is yes AND no!
Are Tomatoes Safe For Dogs?
“Ripe tomatoes in moderation are not toxic for dogs,” says Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, a veterinarian at BreedAdvisor.1 They can even be a healthy and tasty snack for a dog.
Tomatoes have a lot of benefits for dogs, as they are high in necessary nutrients like lycopene, beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C. They have minimal calories and are packed with fiber, which is great for digestion.
But moderation is key because tomatoes are a nightshade plant2, along with green potatoes and eggplant. Nightshade plants contain toxins that can be harmful to dogs in large quantities. The most toxic parts of the tomato plants are the leaves, stems, and vines.3 It’s rare for a dog to get sick from tomatoes, but it can happen, especially if your sweet pup got into the garden and ate a large number of unripe tomatoes.
The best rule of thumb with tomatoes is that red means go and green means stop. If you’re slicing up some delicious red tomatoes to have on that burger, it’s no problem to offer a piece to your canine friend.
When offering tomatoes to your dog, be sure to remove any stems and leaves. Wash the tomato well or consider removing the skin for extra safety.
A good rule to keep in mind for all treats, tomatoes included, is that no more than 10% of a dog’s daily caloric intake should be treats or human food. Food made specifically for dogs contains the vitamins and minerals dogs need for a healthy body and mind.
Whenever we introduce a new food to a dog, especially a puppy, offer it in small amounts and observe their behavior carefully to watch for food allergies or intolerances. Just like humans, dogs do develop food allergies. The most common symptom of food allergies in dogs is vomiting, but it also may show up in symptoms like coughing, sneezing, hives and itching.
Just like with humans, tomatoes can exacerbate acid reflux, so if your dog already struggles with this condition, consider skipping this treat and offer something a little less acidic.
If red tomatoes are OK, you may be wondering about tomato products like tomato sauce, soup, and ketchup! The short answer is MAYBE. But also, WHY?
Items made with tomatoes could potentially be acceptable for an occasional treat, but it will depend on the item. You’ll need to be the critical thinker in the human / canine relationship and read the label carefully.
Avoid products that have excess salt, garlic, or onions. These spices are not good for dogs and should be avoided.
Ketchup contains a lot of sugar which also is not good for Fido. If he happens to catch a drop or two of ketchup while enjoying a bite of your burger, it’s likely going to be no big deal. But avoid offering these foods on any regular basis. They don’t add any value to Fido’s diet and could cause more problems than they are worth.
The biggest risk tomatoes pose to our dogs is the unripened ones found in your backyard garden. As with all harmful things, it’s important to manage the space by blocking off access to things Fido should not have. Simple gates can keep your pup safe while he’s enjoying playtime outside and can give you peace of mind as well.
When giving advice to students of my online course, I always recommend taking the dog out for potty breaks on a leash and ensuring that your puppy is always supervised. It only takes one minute for a dog to get into that garden. Dogs don’t know what foods are harmful and they definitely don’t know that it’s human food and not intended for dogs.
If your dog is outside unattended and you think he might have ingested some green tomatoes, leaves, vines, or stems, watch for signs of tomato poisoning which include stomach upset, confusion, lethargy, or an abnormal heart rate.
Contact your vet right away if you feel that your dog has ingested green tomatoes. And if you have a young puppy, err on the side of caution and get him checked out!
Dogs love novelty and a new food can be just the ticket to helping them stay motivated, especially during training games and while learning impulse control, but know the human foods that are OK for dogs and which ones to skip.
Recap: 10 Facts to Know Before Giving Your Dog Tomatoes
- Ripe tomatoes are safe for dogs when fed in moderation.
- Do not allow your pup to eat green tomatoes or the leaves, stems, and vines of tomato plants as these can be toxic.
- Be sure to wash the tomato well and cut it into bite-sized pieces before giving it to your dog.
- Treats, including ripe tomatoes, should comprise no more than 10 percent of your puppy’s diet.
- Start with a small amount and watch your pup carefully for signs of food allergies or intolerance.
- Avoid giving your puppy tomato products that contain added sugar, salt, onion, garlic, and other spices that are harmful to your dog.
- It’s best to prevent accidental over-ingestion by blocking your puppy’s access to tomatoes and other garden plants by installing fences and gates.
- Don’t rely solely on fences and gates to keep your puppy safe outdoors. It only takes a second for curious puppies to get into places they shouldn’t if your puppy is not well supervised or on a leash.
- Know the signs of tomato poisoning which include stomach upset, confusion, lethargy, or an abnormal heart rate.
- If you suspect your puppy has accidentally eaten some green tomatoes, leaves, stems, or vines, contact your vet right away.
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About the trainer
After spending 20 years helping families with their dogs face to face as a professional dog trainer, Michele realized that so much of what she knows could be shared with families everywhere - in a way that actually works. People sometimes think their dog is just SUPER difficult because the advice they’ve gotten was incomplete, confusing or just wrong. So she set out to help. Michele loves training dogs because of the impact that it has on the families she gets to help. The peace and joy they get from being able to enjoy their dog LISTENING. Besides teaching classes, helping private clients and running seminars, Michele is also a foodie and fantasizes about being a food critic or secret shopper for restaurants. Talk to her about food and your instant best friends.