To-may-to, to-mah-to? It doesn’t matter how you pronounce tomato, this fruit has long been known to provide an array of great health benefits, in addition to being delicious. So many foods we encounter in our daily lives involves tomatoes. Just think – there’s ketchup, pizza, burgers, salsa, spaghetti and just plain tomato slices.
But as a dog owner, you may be asking – can dogs safely eat tomatoes? For a fruit we encounter and eat so often, it’s a fair question.
Yes, Dogs Can Eat Tomatoes
Dogs can safely eat tomatoes, but only in moderation. Veterinarians agree that tomatoes really aren’t bad for your dogs to consume. According to Dr. Marie DVM, there hasn’t been any reported cases of dogs suffering toxic effects from eating slices of tomatoes.
On the contrary, tomatoes provide amazing health benefits to both humans and dogs through its lycopene, tons of Vitamin C and a wide variety of antioxidants. However, there are potential side effects and health problems that may arise from eating tomatoes.
Health Benefits: Dogs and Tomatoes
In order to fully understand the benefits and side effects of the dog consumption of tomatoes, let’s break down the nutrition in these tasty fruits.
In a single medium-sized tomato (123 grams):
- Vitamin C – 28% Daily Value
- Vitamin A – 20% DV
- 3.2 grams of sugar
- 1.5 grams of dietary fiber
- 292 milligrams of Potassium (8% DV)
- Magnesium – 3% DV
- Vitamin B6 – 6% DV
Tomato Vitamins & Antioxidants
Tomatoes are often described as a treasure chest of antioxidants. Okay, I might have made that up, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true. They are packed with your conventional antioxidants such as Vitamin C, manganese and beta-carotene. Yes, the same beta-carotene that’s found in cantaloupes and mangoes, which helps your canine improve and sharpen their vision. A few slices of raw tomatoes for your aging dog might not be a bad idea every now and then.
Tomato Lycopene Improves Dog’s Health
Like other fruits with a reddish color, tomatoes contain a special phytochemical called Lycopene. Lycopene is a bright red carotene that promotes good health. Although research for the effects on dogs are still preliminary, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why that wouldn’t be the same case for our canine friends. This special carotene can help combat degenerative diseases and certain forms of cancer. Feel free to chop up a few slices for an older dog!
Other dog-safe vegetables that provide this Lycopene carotene include carrots! An alternative like Mangoes can provide Vitamin A to your dog, which also helps with enhancing their vision.
Strengthen Dog’s Bone Tissues
Your dog’s bone health can greatly benefit from occasional tomato slices. In recent studies, research shows that when tomatoes are completely removed from a human’s daily diet regimen for as little as a few weeks, the bone tissues of that human became much weaker. In theory, this would apply to dogs as well.
This great health benefit is likely due to the sizable amount of Vitamin K and calcium provided in tomatoes. Other fruits and vegetables with Vitamin K include: cucumbers, celery, avocado, broccoli and blueberries.
The occasional tomato slice would be a great idea for old, yet active dogs. Even if you have a young dog, it’s always a great idea to strengthen your dog’s bone tissue, especially for active dog breeds.
Tomatoes Improve a Dog’s Eye Vision
One of the top nutrients contained in tomatoes is Vitamin A. In a single medium-sized tomato, there is roughly 20% (of a human’s daily value) worth of the A vitamin. That means just five medium tomatoes will get you your recommended dose of Vitamin A for the day.
Vitamin A has long been known to help humans improve their eye vision. However, this benefit can also apply to your dog as well. This powerful antioxidant has also been known to help battle “night blindness,” which may be crucial for an outdoor dog.
This means that a few slices of tomatoes may greatly benefit an older dog. Tomatoes are especially great for an aging dog that wanders your backyard at night.
Tomatoes Promote a Healthy Dog Heart
Has anyone ever told you that tomatoes are healthy for your heart? Well, it’s true! Tomatoes are loaded with Potassium and a variety of B vitamins, making them healthy for your heart. These specific nutrients help in effectively reducing your dog’s cholesterol levels, while lowering blood pressure.
This means that including a bit of tomato in your dog’s diet can help in preventing heart attacks, strokes or any other illnesses and diseases related to their heart. Other fruits or vegetables that have a high dose of B6 vitamin and/or Potassium include: avocados, bananas, apples and oranges.
Side Effects: Tomatoes and Dogs
Now that we’ve established all the reasons that tomatoes can be wonderful snacks for your canine, there are certain side effects dog owners need to look out for.
Dangers of Tomatine and Solanine
Here’s the real danger of your dog consuming tomatoes. These fruits contain two substances called Alpha-tomatine and Solanine, which are toxic to dogs. This is why we stress that moderation is key in not turning tomatoes from a good to bad thing.
These two substances, especially Tomatine, can be dangerous for the dog’s heart. The good news is that it’ll have to take a huge amount of tomato to cause any damage to your dog’s heart. In addition, Tomatine is known to be poorly absorbed in the intestines, making it even more difficult to overdose on it.
Although these substances are found throughout the whole fruit, they are highly concentrated in the stem, vine and the leaves. The actual tomato contains very little of both Tomatine and Solanine. The key to always cut out the parts that aren’t the tomato itself before serving them to your dog.
Atropine Side Effects in Dogs
Besides Tomatine and Solanine, the substance called Atropine can lead to health problems and adverse symptoms in dogs when consumed in a large amount. Atropine is only located in the stems and leaves of tomatoes, and even then, there are very small traces of it.
If your dog accidentally consumes a large amount of atropine, it could lead to side effects such as dysphagia, dry mouth, constipation, vomiting, drowsiness, tremors and other serious side effects on the dog’s central nervous system. Avoid at all cost.
Tomatoes Can Make Arthritis Worse
If your dog suffers from arthritic problems, tomatoes are not a suitable fruit for them to consume. Tomatoes affect the consumption and absorption of calcium, which will lead to worsening symptoms of arthritis or similar symptoms. If you are unsure if your older dog is suffering from these symptoms, consult with a veterinarian before deciding whether to feed them tomatoes. Note: This is also true for humans as well.
On the other hand, there are other fruits and vegetables that may help with arthritis. These foods include cucumbers, celery, pineapples, broccoli and cherries. However, if you do plan to use external human foods to treat arthritis in your dog, I would suggest consulting with a vet first. Every dog is unique and there is no way to tell how one dog would react to certain foods.
Stomach Pains and Indigestion
There is a chance that your dog may not be able to digest tomatoes as well as you’d like. This will most likely lead to mild stomach pains, but nothing too serious. However, if your dog accidentally ate a small amount of the greens of the tomato, this scenario is much more likely. In the end, the stomach pain might induce vomiting. But after that, the toxins should be out and they’ll be okay.
How Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
Tomato Feeding Tips For Dogs
The preparation of tomatoes for your dog is quite simple. The first and foremost thing is to make sure the tomato is red and ripe. When tomatoes are unripe, they will have a shade of green and tend to be much harder than their ripped counterparts. Unripe tomatoes contain much more Tomatine and Solanine, which we’ve discussed can lead some serious adverse side effects if consumed in large quantity.
Tomato Preparation For Dogs
Always dispose of the stems, tomato leaves and anything else that isn’t the tomato itself. Never feed a tomato to a dog as a whole no matter how big your dog may be.
Cut the tomato into smaller slices to avoid any blockage in your dog’s intestinal tract. The last thing you’d want if for them to get constipation from eating a whole tomato.
Wash the tomatoes thoroughly before feeding them to your dog, even if they are organic. There could still be residue pesticide and/or other bacteria that may harm your dog. Your dog’s stomach will be able to handle the bacteria fairly well. However, it’s the pesticide that may do the most damage to your dog.
Like with all other fruits and vegetables, always start off with a few slices if this is their first time eating tomatoes. Keep an eye out for any behavioral changes (lack of energy, extra thirsty, etc.) or stool changes (diarrhea, constipation, etc.) for at least 24 hours after feeding them.
If there is no allergic reaction or changes in stool habits and behavior, you can safely give them more tomatoes over time. Just keep in mind that tomatoes should not be a daily thing you feed your dog.
Can Puppies Eat Tomatoes?
Yes, it is safe for puppies to eat tomatoes. However, it is not generally recommended that you feed puppies a serving of tomatoes. Tomatoes are strong human foods that may not digest well in a puppy’s stomach.
The stomach of a young dog is generally much more sensitive and weaker than the stomach of an adult dog. This fact makes them more prone to experiencing negative side effects and the potential risks associated with dogs and tomatoes.
If after reading this guide and you still want to feed your puppy some servings of tomatoes, I would strongly suggest talking to your vet. Your veterinarian will know best, but will most likely make the same recommendation as me.
Tomato Herb Dog Treat Recipe
These are the perfect savory treats for your dog to enjoy! Who said healthy can’t also taste good? These dog treats contain all the nutrients of a tomato in the form of a savory dog treat. Cook these in less than an hour and your dog will you love for this. This dog treat recipe is courtesy of Doggy Dessert Chef.
- 6 ounce of tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
- ½ tspn of dried basil
- 5 ounce of evaporated milk (canned)
- ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups of whole wheat flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
- Using a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.
- Knead the dough into a ball and roll onto a surface with sprinkled flour (prevent sticking) to roughly ¼ inch thick.
- Use a cookie cutter or knife to cut the shape of your dog treat.
- Using a fork, pork each dog biscuit to prevent bubbles from forming.
- Put on a sprayed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden.
- Let the biscuits cool down in the refrigerate and let your dogs enjoy!
Note: Make sure the tomato paste is pure tomato paste that doesn’t include anything extra like onions, garlic or spices. Some of those ingredients can actually be toxic for your dog.
The Smart Canine is an informational website and cannot claim to provide professional advice. Although we have thoroughly researched on tomato consumption and dogs, you should treat this as supplemental knowledge. We cannot guarantee your dog will receive certain side effects or health benefits from eating tomatoes. If you have any issues and concerns, please consult with your veterinarian.