Welcome to “Can My Dog Eat That?,” our new series that answers some obvious (and not-so-obvious) questions about what your dog can and can’t safely eat. Read on!
If your dog’s eyes are saying “Please throw that red, juicy, ball-looking food my way,” the good news is you can! Ripe tomatoes (either raw or cooked) are nontoxic and can be included on the list of snacks for your dog, as long as they’re eaten in moderation.
Like all new food, it’s a good idea to introduce your dog to tomatoes gradually to make sure they tolerate them well. Due to their acidity, tomatoes can cause an upset stomach if your dog eats too many. Dogs with sensitive stomachs may find the acidity of just one tomato too much for them. And while ripe tomatoes are safe for dogs, a lot of human foods that are tomato-based also contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs (e.g., garlic, onion, chives). So be sure to check the ingredient label before feeding your dog any tomato-based people food.
A Good Source of Antioxidants and Fiber
Tomatoes or tomato pomace (the skin, pulp and seeds) are often included in dog food formulas, like Taste of the Wild, Taste of the Wild PREY and Taste of the Wild with Ancient Grains, because they are a good source of nutrients. Tomatoes are a source of vitamin C and lycopene, which are important antioxidants. Free radicals are produced during normal metabolism and can damage molecules in your dog’s body that are essential for maintaining good health. Antioxidants help protect your dog from these damaging free radicals.
Tomato pomace is a good, balanced source of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as a source of vitamin C and lycopene. Dietary fiber helps support digestive health and firm stools. The tomato pomace fiber is fermented in your dog’s large intestine to produce short-chain fatty acids that are an energy source for intestinal cells. Dietary fiber also regulates colon pH and encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon.
Avoid Everything Else on the Tomato Plant
Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family of plants. Nightshades, which also include potatoes, peppers and eggplant, contain alkaloids that can be toxic in large amounts. The alkaloid solanine is used by nightshade plants as an insecticide while they’re growing. Tomato plants also contain the toxin tomatine, which is found in the green parts of the plant, in unripe (green) tomatoes and in the flowers.
Your dog could be at risk of tomatine poisoning if they ingest a large amount of green tomatoes or the tomato plant. However, it’s unlikely that your dog would actually eat enough to become seriously ill, and if they do, it usually isn’t fatal. If your dog has eaten a large amount of green tomatoes or the plant itself, contact your veterinarian so they can determine if treatment is needed.
A ripe tomato is a great snack choice for most dogs. Just make sure your dog doesn’t get into the vegetable patch and snack on the plants instead.
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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.