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Dog owners know that it’s not a question of if your dog will snatch up a piece of dropped food, but when. We can’t always be fast enough to catch them in the act. Learning what’s safe for your pooch to snack on is one way to put your mind at ease.
Can dogs eat tomatoes? The truth about this versatile vegetable gets a little complicated.
Short answer: yes, dogs can eat tomatoes. Unlike chocolate or garlic1,2 , tomatoes are not immediately toxic for dogs. As with all things, the key is moderation. Dogs can eat a small amount of tomato as a snack, but only when they are ripe and red.
However, too much tomato can lead to serious health problems.
Tomatoes can be a healthy snack for humans and dogs alike.2 They pack tons of fiber, which aids in digestion, as well as minerals and vitamins including:
● Vitamin C
● Vitamin K
● Vitamin B9
Tomatoes also have lots of antioxidants, substances that can protect against cellular damage.3 Dogs can be exposed to many more toxins than humans, so antioxidants can be just as important for their diet.
This is all good news for tomato-loving dogs. But there’s a catch: tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family. The green parts of nightshades contain solanine and tomatine, two toxins that can be dangerous to dogs if ingested in large quantities. If your dog is going to enjoy the occasional tomato snack, make sure they don’t eat any leaves or stems. Remember to avoid green, unripe tomatoes as well.2
Tomatine poisoning is what happens when too much tomatine is ingested. Red, ripe tomatoes only contain trace amounts of the toxin, so your dog would need to eat a lot of them before it becomes a problem. Keep in mind that, for smaller dogs, the threshold for dangerous amounts of tomatine is lower. Make sure to adjust the snack size accordingly!
If you’re worried about your dog eating too many tomatoes, keep an eye out for these symptoms:2
● Dilated pupils
● Loss of appetite
● Loss of coordination
● Muscle weakness
● Cardiac symptoms like irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia
The good news is that tomatine poisoning is rarely fatal in dogs.2 Most make a full recovery. If you notice any of the above symptoms, speak to your vet. They can do a full exam to determine if your dog has been poisoned. They may induce vomiting or keep them overnight for monitoring. Emergency costs for dogs can quickly add up, so do your best to keep your dog from eating too many tomatoes.
If the only exposure your dog will have to tomatoes is from your fridge, then it should be easy to moderate how much they eat. Just try not to let too many get away from you while cooking.
If you grow tomatoes, whether in a garden or indoors, take steps to make them hard for your dog to reach. Install a garden fence or keep indoor plants out of reach.
Tomatoes should be an occasional treat. Start small, giving your dog just one or two small pieces of ripe, red tomato, then monitor their reaction. They’re unlikely to be affected by tomatine in such small quantities, but some dogs may have an allergic reaction. Contact your vet if you observe difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, or hives.2 Even if your dog isn’t allergic, too much tomato could upset their stomach due to the vegetable’s acidity.
Nutritionally speaking, cherry tomatoes aren’t any different from larger tomatoes like beefsteak.4 In fact, their small size can make them a better snack for your dog. Just make sure to take the same precautions we’ve already covered: red, ripe, with no leafy bits.
Fresh, red, ripe tomatoes are usually safe, but that doesn’t mean your dog can have any and all tomato-based foods. Tomato-based sauces often contain less healthy ingredients, including sugar, garlic, and onion.
When served red, ripe, and in moderation, tomatoes can be a safe and nutritious snack for your dog. So, the next time you get overzealous with your salad, no need to panic if a stray tomato finds its way into your dog’s mouth. Just keep an eye on your dog’s reaction and contact your vet if the worst does happen.
Still worried? A MetLife insurance policy for your dog1 could help cover unexpected vet bills. Find out if it's worth getting pet insurance for your pup.
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
1Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
2Burke, A., (2022), “Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?”, American Kennel Club
3Marsden, S., (N.D.), ”Antioxidants”, VCA Animal Hospitals
4 Rivers, B. (N.D.), “Can Dogs Eat Cherry Tomatoes?”, The Healthy Dog Co.