Most of us are tempted to share our human foods with our dogs. Unfortunately, this can sometimes cause problems as not all of the foods we eat are safe for our canine friends.
Dog owners tend to know about chocolate and raisins, but did you know that tomato plants can also be toxic to your furbaby?
The tomato belongs to a toxic family of flowering plants known as nightshade. Dogs are susceptible to poisoning if they eat the leaves or stems of a tomato plant or if they consume an unripened tomato. However, ripened tomatoes are perfectly safe as an occasional treat.
Learn more about tomatoes below to see how often you can feed them, how to keep your dog out of your vegetable garden, and more.
Table of Contents:
Are Tomatoes Toxic to Dogs?
Washed and ripened tomatoes are perfectly safe for healthy dogs to eat. You only need to ensure they’re completely ripe and remove the stem and leaves first.
Dogs with arthritis should not be fed tomatoes as they can worsen your dog’s symptoms.
Both full-size and cherry tomatoes can help with digestion and contain many nutrients including vitamins C and A, fiber, lycopene, and beta-carotene.
All of this means that tomatoes are good for digestion, eyesight, heart and brain health, and more!
However, we also have to think about the toxin that’s present in unripened tomatoes and other parts of the plant. This toxin is called solanine.
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Can Dogs Eat Tomato Plants?
The toxin solanine is present in high amounts in unripened tomatoes. It’s also present in the stems and leaves of the plant. Tomato plants are toxic to dogs. If your pup eats a tomato plant, contact your nearest emergency veterinarian or call the pet poison hotline at (855) 764-7661.
As tomatoes ripen, they have less solanine, making them safe for humans and dogs to eat.
It’s important to keep your dog out of your veggie garden and away from unripened tomatoes in the house. Store them up high or in the fridge to prevent your pup from getting into them—but luckily, these fruits aren’t too tempting to the average dog.
Keeping your dog out of your vegetable garden may be more challenging if they like to “help” by chewing your plants. I recommend supervising your dog around the garden as the cheapest solution.
Otherwise, installing fencing, netting, or row covers around the garden can help keep out pests as well as your pup.
Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes Cooked?
Dogs can safely eat cooked tomatoes so long as the above instructions are followed: ensure the tomato is fully ripe, wash before cooking, and remove the leaves and stem.
However, many tomato sauces and other cooked dishes, such as pasta or pizza, contain added seasoning that can be toxic to your dog. Be careful that your dish doesn’t include garlic, onion, or other toxic ingredients. For example, pepperoni is not safe for dogs.
When feeding dogs people food, it’s best to stick to pure ingredients, such as a small slice of ripened tomato from the fridge or from a salad you’ve made yourself, sans dressing.
Pure, plain tomato paste can also be okay to feed in small quantities and might make a good occasional kibble topper if your dog enjoys it.
What Happens if Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
If dogs eat small amounts of ripened tomatoes, nothing will happen. However, tomato poisoning can occur if they eat unripened tomatoes or tomato plants.
This is rare, in part because dogs don’t tend to like tomatoes enough to eat a bunch of them. However, it’s most common when a pup raids their person’s garden and eats large amounts of unripened fruit or whole plants.
Signs of poisoning include:
- Irregular heartbeat or other heart problems
- Stomach pain
- Muscle weakness
- Uncoordinated movements
If your dog shows signs of poisoning or eats a large quantity of tomato plant or unripened tomato, call your nearest emergency vet clinic right away. You can also call the pet poison hotline at (855) 764-7661.
Don’t wait for symptoms to arise if you know your dog has eaten the toxic parts of a tomato. Symptoms can be invisible, such as a change in heart rhythm. Seeking immediate treatment can prevent your dog from suffering long-term effects such as organ damage.
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Dogs with Health Conditions
Dogs with health conditions including arthritis and tomato allergies should not be fed tomatoes.
Foods from the nightshade family, including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant, can cause inflammation and lead to increased pain for dogs with arthritis.
Keep in mind that an estimated 20% of dogs have arthritis, and it can develop early in adulthood for them. Your pup might have arthritis and be undiagnosed, particularly if they’re a senior. It might be best to stay away from tomatoes or consult your veterinarian before feeding them to your dog.
Lastly, a very small number of dogs are allergic to tomatoes. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and hives. Depending on the severity, an allergic reaction warrants a trip to either your regular or emergency veterinarian.
How Often Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
Although tomatoes are good for dogs, moderation is key. They shouldn’t be eating whole tomatoes every day!
Instead, give them small slices of ripe tomato as a treat. Make sure you remove the leaves and stem before feeding.
Washing your tomatoes, and all fruits and vegetables, before feeding them to your dog is also important. They can contain pesticides on the outside that aren’t safe for canines or humans!
Also, be sure to keep your dog’s size in mind! Giant breeds like Saint Bernards can eat more tomato than a tiny Chihuahua, who should only be given one to two small pieces.
As long as you aren’t feeding tomatoes daily or feeding whole fruits, don’t worry too much about quantity. There’s even a chance your dog won’t eat them at all—mine have always spat them out!
Can Dogs Eat Ketchup?
Ketchup is generally safe if your dog gets ahold of it, but you shouldn’t feed it on purpose. This is because ketchup contains many additional ingredients including preservatives, salt, and sugar that aren’t healthy for your dog to eat.
Are there Other Veggies in the Nightshade Family?
Yes, there are many fruits and vegetables in the nightshade family. These include:
- Bell pepper
- Sweet pepper
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