Tomatoes are one of the most versatile foods out there - they make everything from sandwiches to salads to sauces better. It would definitely make your dog happy to eat one, too. So what's the deal - 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).
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 tomatoes, 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.
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.
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.
You should also avoid feeding your dog tomato-based foods like tomato sauce, as many of those will contain other ingredients like onions that should be kept away from dogs.
SO CAN DOGS EAT TOMATOES?
Dogs 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.