Are Tomatoes Toxic or Good for Dogs? The Definitive Answer

A tasty treat or a silent killer?

Are Tomatoes OK for dogs? Our vet team answers

Have you ever asked yourself “Can Dogs have Tomatoes?” Is this fruit (even though people call it a vegetable) harmful to dogs?

You can feed your dog, let’s call him Chester, other human food items besides just dog food to keep him healthy. There is an assortment of treats that will keep him interested and with a good, varied diet. Tomatoes are one of the favorite fruits among us humans and pets alike.

But, I’m sure you’ve come here to find a quick answer so here it goes… 

Are Tomatoes Good for Dogs? – Yes, but only ripened

Let’s see what are the most important benefits and the proper way to feed this awesome fruit to your pet.

Ready for a Little Story First?

Some dogs love tomatoes, and some dogs won’t go near them. I had a mixed terrier breed named Chancey. He looked a lot like a white Benjie, except he weighed about 50 pounds. Sometimes he would sneak food when he thought no one was looking at some dogs do. One day, he wiggled a burger with cheese off the table and snuck away with it.

Read More: Can I give cheese to my dog?

By the time I realized it was gone, he had already stuffed it into his mouth. I watched him roll and chew the hamburger around in his mouth and swallow. Then he flicked his tongue and out popped the tomato onto the rug without a mark on it. It even had the seeds. How he ate around it without swallowing, I haven’t a clue. But he wasn’t a tomato lover at all!

dog looking in box with tomatoes

But, some dogs are, and if they eat this herbaceous plant when the fruit is green or if the foliage is eaten, it can cause tomatine poisoning. This plant contains solanine which is in the stem, leaves and the green tomatoes. Solanine can be harmful if eaten in large quantities by dogs. As the fruit matures and becomes red though, the solanine level drops. So, when it’s ripe, it can be considered non-toxic and can be fed in moderation to your furry friend.

What are the health benefits of tomatoes?

After reading all the scary stuff, there are excellent health benefits for your four-legged friend if he does eat tomatoes the correct way. Lycopene is an important antioxidant which is of the ripe red fruit. It helps to fight cancer and oxidative stress. This summer staple also contains Vitamin B6, B3 and A which helps to fill in the lack of vitamins in the pet food you may feeding him.

Also, this herbaceous fruit has manganese, fibers, potassium, and phosphorus which are other healthy things. By your dog eating these, it will boost bone tissue too. While Chester can eat a nice healthy red tomato, you should talk to your vet about how many he can eat safely.

Recommended Read: Top 5 Health Benefits of Carrots

Husky puppy waiting for his tomato treats

Frequent Questions and Answers

Some questions which you might have are answered below:

  • What if my pet eats pieces of the tomato plant; what are tomatine poisoning signs?
    The signs of tomatine poisoning are an upset stomach and diarrhea, loss of coordination and signs of muscle weakness. There can also be tremors and seizures, drooling, behavioral changes as well as itching.
  • What’s in the plants that cause these problems in dogs?
    The leaves and green fruit contain tomatine and solanine, and each can have a toxic effect on dogs. Tomatine doesn’t digest well in a dog’s intestines. Chester would have to eat quite a few tomatoes though. The tomato plant also has a little of Atropine on the stems and leaves. This will cause Atropine poisoning if consumed in large amounts. This would show up as arrhythmias and tremors in your pet.
  • What should I do if my pet is showing symptoms of tomatine poisoning?
    If your canine companion starts to show any of the symptoms after eating tomatoes or the plants, then you should call and take your pet to the vet immediately. If you don’t get your fur baby to a vet in time, it could be fatal, however, the chances of it being is very slight.
retriever puppy gets vet examination
  • What about plants in my garden? If you have these growing these in your garden, you should keep Chester away from them. You could either supervise your pooch every time he goes out or fence in your produce so that he can’t get into them.
Dog sniffing green tomato plants

The best way to feed your dog tomatoes

So, what would be the best way to feed this wonderful fruit to your pet? First, if you’re not raising them yourself, the next best step is to buy them at the local farmers market. The reason is that it is usually riper. The tomatine will be at its lowest level. So, if you buy them unripe or green, then you’ll have to wait until they ripen.

You may want to cook the tomatoes a little, so the risks decrease, but the antioxidants and vitamins will still be there. You also need to consider how large Chester is and what he weighs before you decide how many he should eat. If you do see some side effects, like the ones mentioned above, stop immediately and consult a vet.

pug puppy licking ripe cherry tomato

If you feed your pet the right way you will give him a healthy treat, but you need to consider some of the points above. If you have any questions about feeding them to your furry companion, consult your vet and see what your vet thinks about it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Have you fed your dog tomatoes? If so, what did your pet think of the treat?

can I give my dog tomatoes?