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September 25, 2020 4 min read

Tomatoes are one of the most versatile foods out there - they make everything from sandwiches to salads to sauces better. There are also a huge number of varieties that are grown in different conditions and turn out to be of varying sizes, textures and tastes.

Whether you're eating a tomato by itself (we like ours with a little salt on them), having some caprese or chowing down on a margherita pizza, you might find a pair of eyes (or a few pairs of eyes, depending on your house) looking up at you wondering if a bite is coming their way. Before you hand some over, let's take a look at the important question - can dogs eat tomatoes?

CAN DOGS EAT TOMATOES?

For the most part, yes - dogs can eat tomatoes. With that said, however, it's important to understand the risks associated with them to make sure you feed them to your dog safely. It's also important to note that as with most foods, some dogs may be allergic to tomatoes, so if your dog is experiencing digestive problems after eating them, it's a good idea to stop feeding them to him and see if those issues go away.

There are lots of varieties of tomatoes, from Beefeater to Cherry to Roma. While each is a little different, for the most part they're all about the same when it comes to giving them to your dog. While they have different flavor profiles and appearances, they all have roughly the same nutritional value and carry the same risks, so you don't have to get any particular variety for your pup (unless he's an extremely picky eater).

can dogs eat tomatoes

ARE TOMATOES GOOD FOR DOGS?

Tomatoes are rich with nutrients that are good for dogs. They have high amounts of lycopene, which helps dogs grow strong bones and reduces the risk of heart disease. They also have both vitamin A and vitamin C, which are antioxidants. Finally, they are high in both potassium and beta-carotene, both of which are good for your pup.

RISKS OF GIVING TOMATOES TO DOGS

Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family of vegetables (along with peppers, potatoes and eggplant). This means that they product a compound called solanine, which is harmful to dogs, particularly in large quantities. That's the bad news; the good news is that in tomatoes solanine is concentrated in the leaves and stem, so it's definitely avoidable. The other thing to watch out for is unripe tomatoes, which contain relatively high amounts of solanine. 

If a dog does ingest too much solanine, he will suffer from tomatine poisoning, so if he eats a stem or some leaves, keep an eye out for the signs. These include gastrointestinal issues, muscle weakness, loss of coordination, tremors and seizures. If you notice any of these or have any other concerns, call your vet right away. While the prognosis for tomatine poisoning is usually good, these symptoms can also be indicators of other, more serious problems, so it's best to leave the diagnosis up to a professional.

And on a somewhat lighter note, when you give your dog tomatoes there is always the risk that juice goes flying everywhere, so we recommend not giving your pup any while you're wearing white!

HOW TO PREPARE TOMATOES FOR DOGS

There's no need to do much to prepare tomatoes for dogs. If you'd like, you're welcome to cook them (as long as you don't use salt or anything else that'll turn them into an unhealthy snack), but they're perfectly fine raw as well. It is best to cut a tomato up before giving it to your dog, just to make sure she doesn't get a whole tomato stuck in her throat. And of course

If you buy your tomatoes from the store, you should make sure to give them a wash before you feed them to your dog (or eat them yourself), as they may have been sprayed with pesticides when they were grown.

That said, one thing that you should definitely keep away from your dog is canned tomatoes - they're extremely high in sodium, which isn't good for dogs. It can lead to dehydration and other more serious conditions in large enough quantities, so stay away. 

What about other tomato-based foods? Can dogs eat tomato sauce? That one depends, but the answer is probably no. First of all, tomato sauce may contain other ingredients like onion that dogs shouldn't have at all. Second of all, if you have store-bought tomato sauce, it's probably high in sodium as well. The exception is if you've made your own tomato sauce at home with fresh tomatoes and nothing else that's bad for dogs, but for the most part it's best to stay away from tomato sauce at all.

And can dogs eat tomato soup? Again, it depends but generally best to stay away. Soups almost always have added salt (and sometimes sugar). Can dogs eat ketchup? Same thing - ketchup has lots of added sugar that makes it a bad choice for pups.

The last question we hear with some regularity is can dogs eat tomato juice? If you're making your own - that is, just pureeing tomatoes and adding nothing else, then it's totally fine. If, on the other hand, you're buying it from a store, it's also going to have the sorts of additives we've talked about that make it unfit for a dog.

SO CAN DOGS EAT TOMATOES?

Yes, dogs can definitely have tomatoes, provided you pick the right ones and prepare them correctly. They can eat mature tomatoes that have had their leaves and rinds removed - just remember, as long as there's no green in sight, tomatoes make a wonderful snack.

And while tomatoes are good, most things that are tomato-based aren't - soups, juices and ketchup are all going to have significant amount of added salt, sugar and other things that are harmful to your dog's health, so they should be kept away. If you're going to feed tomatoes to your dog, keep them plain. It's okay if they're raw or cooked, as long as they don't have any salt, oil or other problematic things added to them.