Can dogs eat tomatoes?
Our canine friends love to take a tasty morsel from their owners. Whether that be healthy or not, your dog only cares that you are eating it an he wants it! Now should dogs eat tomatoes? In limited amount some fresh red tomato will do your dog no harm.
It is important not to allow consumption of any leaves, stems or unripe green tomatoes, these contain Solanine which is harmful to your dog.
Now whether you are meal is chicken, beef, sausages, fruit or vegetables, he cares not and just wants to join in with the eating and finish it! It is never a good practise to routinely feed from the table as there will be many occasions that your foods could be toxic to the dog. If leftovers are snaffled or stolen as a matter of course this could leave your pet at risk. But what about tomatoes?
Tomatoes are related to peppers and aubergine.
Tomatoes belong to the group of vegetables and fruits that we call Nightshades. The Latin name for the group is Solanaceae which gives rise to the name of a substance called Solanine, present in the leaves stems and tomatoes when they are green and unripe.
Other fruits in the same group are peppers and aubergine (which are known as eggplant in the US). The potato is a vegetable in the Nightshade family. Nightshades contain compounds called alkaloids, Solanine being the particular one present in potatoes.
Tomatine is the alkaloid present in the green parts of the tomato plant. When consumed in a large volume it gives rise to Tomatine poisoning.
This compound in the tomato plant works as an insecticide while the plant is growing and developing, warning off bugs and parasites. Eating too much of this compound will make you feel unwell and as a result we do not eat the leaves and stems or unripe tomatoes. Solanine is present in potatoes that are turning green, ruining their taste and making them unsuitable to eat.
Only give your dog red tomatoes
Red and ripe tomatoes are therefore the only way for your dog to consume tomatoes and as ever in limited amounts. This may all sound scary however tomatoes are now thought of as being very nutritious, containing lycopene, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and macular degeneration.
The following are the major, and sometimes serious symptoms of poisoning by Solanine or Tomatine:
- Sickness, vomiting or diarrhoea
- Abnormal heart rate
- Bad coordination
- Muscle weakening
- Spasms or tremors
Obviously contact your vet at the first sign of any symptoms and particularly if you think your pet has consumed products, foods or substances unsuitable for them. Tomatine poisoning is the milder of the two and common sense should prevail when letting your dog have access to these plants. Lasting effects are unlikely particularly if recognised but call your vet regardless.
Keep access to the plants restricted in your home and garden if you are a keen gardener who grows tomatoes. There is always a chance that if tomatoes are a familiar food to your dog then it might harvest some directly from the growing plants and maybe chomp on stem and leaves in the process.
What about tinned tomatoes?
It is highly likely that tinned tomatoes, passata and sauces will contain one or more of the following:
- Flavour enhancers
All of the above are either harmful like garlic and onions, unneeded, or should be restricted to a small amount and monitored closely in your dog' diet. So avoid feeding tomato based products or tinned tomatoes and probably cooked tomatoes or dishes as well. Always monitor your dog's food, chew and snack intake, keeping them safe and avoiding stomach upsets.