Tomatoes are a popular sweet and juicy fruit. They are also a staple in every household and are used to cook a variety of dishes like stews, salsa, pasta sauce, soups, and curries.
But did you know that apart from their versatility, tomatoes are also very nutritious? They are a rich source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can protect you against various diseases. Now the big question is: can we share this healthy food with our dogs?
Continue reading to find out when you can feed tomatoes to your dog and when to avoid them completely.
Is it safe for dogs to eat tomatoes?
Dogs can safely eat red, fully ripe tomatoes in small quantities. However, you should avoid feeding the leaves, stems, and unripe green fruit of the tomato plant. They have solanine and tomatine, which can make our dogs sick if they eat too much.
Although it’s rare, these parts of the tomato plant can lead to tomatine poisoning, which is treatable but requires medical attention.
The mature red tomatoes are completely safe for your dog because the level of solanine and tomatine decreases to a safe amount as the fruit ripens.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes for Dogs
Below are the four health benefits of feeding red ripe tomatoes to your dogs.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Tomatoes are a rich source of many antioxidants, including lycopene, beta-carotene (which gets converted into vitamin A), and immune-boosting vitamin C. These antioxidants protect the dog’s body against the harmful effects of free radicals.
They also help reduce the risk of many chronic health conditions, like respiratory diseases, allergies, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, inflammation, and heart diseases.
2. Contains a Variety of Nutrients
Tomatoes provide many vitamins and minerals that are required for the proper growth and development of our dogs. They are especially rich in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system by increasing the number of antibodies that can fight against bacteria, toxins, and viruses.
It also contains beta-carotene, which gets converted to vitamin A inside the dog’s body. This vitamin has many important functions, as it promotes healthy vision, bone growth, and cell function.
When it comes to minerals, tomatoes contain high levels of potassium. It’s an essential mineral that supports bone growth, cognitive function, and healthy bones. It also helps support the regulation of cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Tomatoes are also rich in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These minerals help support various crucial functions in a dog’s body and their overall growth and wellness.
3. Provides Dietary Fiber
Tomatoes provide both soluble and insoluble fibers, which can help support your dog’s digestive health. These fibers are complex carbohydrates that do not get digested in the small intestine like most nutrients. Instead, they ferment in the large intestine to make fatty acids that help keep bad bacteria from growing too much.
Soluble fiber, in particular, helps support regular bowel movements for your dog by adding bulk and soaking up extra water in his stomach.
4. Can Provide Hydration
Tomatoes contain 95% water, which can help replenish your dog’s body on a hot summer day or after a play session. You can simply feed them a small slice of tomato to re-energize their body and promote hydration.
But please remember that you will still have to provide fresh drinking water to your dog to avoid dehydration, especially during the summer.
How to Feed Tomatoes to a Dog
It’s quite easy to feed a tomato to your dog. The important thing is to be mindful of the portion sizes. You should always consider tomatoes a treat and feed them as a supplement to a healthy, well-balanced meal.
Ideally, you should follow the 90/10 rule, which states that treats like a tomato shouldn’t exceed 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. But you can also consult with your veterinarian to determine the exact amount of tomato to feed your dog. They’ll advise you based on your dog’s health conditions and nutritional requirements.
Now let’s discuss the various ways in which you can feed tomatoes to your dog.
Raw or Cooked Tomatoes: Which One is Healthier for Your Dog
A raw and ripe tomato is perfectly safe for your dog. It’s also convenient, as you can simply buy these vegetables from the store, chop them up, and feed them to your dog as a treat.
Just make sure that you wash the tomatoes properly and remove the stems and leaves before feeding them to your pup. You should also chop raw tomatoes into bite-sized pieces to avoid any risk of choking or internal blockage.
Cooked tomatoes, on the other hand, are also safe and healthy for your dog. But while cooking, you should ensure that you don't add any additional ingredients or seasonings that might be harmful to your dog’s health.
The best way to cook tomatoes for a dog is to boil and mash them to make a puree. It can be used as a food topper that you can serve with their kibble meal.
Many dogs don't often enjoy the taste of tomatoes, in that case, you can try some of the following ways of incorporating tomatoes into their diet:
- Freeze tomato puree in an ice cube for a cool treat
- Make a delicious tomato soup with dog-friendly ingredients
- Dehydrate tomato slices and serve them as a treat or food topper
- Make tomato juice and serve in a bowl or freeze it in ice cubes for later
Unhealthy Ways of Feeding Tomato to a Dog
Just because tomatoes are safe for your dog doesn’t mean they can eat every tomato-based food. For example, canned tomato sauce that contains other ingredients like onions and garlic isn't safe for a dog. Even tomato ketchup isn’t a healthy choice for your pup, as it contains a high amount of sugar.
You can however feed your dog canned tomato products such as whole, diced, crushed, paste, etc. that are made with only tomatoes and water.
The best way to check whether your dog can eat tomato-based products is by reading the ingredients of the product. As a general rule of thumb, if the product contains additional ingredients, seasoning, sugar, or preservatives, you should consider it unsafe for your dog.
Tomato in Commercial Dog Food
Some commercial dog foods contain tomato pomace as an ingredient. It’s actually the crushed-up seeds, skin, and pulp of a ripe and mature tomato.
Brands add this ingredient because tomatoes have a lot of fiber, which helps digestion, and antioxidants, which help reduce chronic inflammation.
If you are feeding your dog store-bought food that already contains tomato pomace, then you might not need to add tomatoes to their diet as a supplement. Your dog will reap the benefits of tomatoes through their regular meals.
Are there any dangers to feeding tomatoes to a dog?
A ripe red tomato is safe and healthy for your dog. The only thing you have to worry about is keeping them away from the leaves, stems, and green, unripe fruit of the tomato plant, as it might lead to tomatine poisoning.
When you’re bringing tomatoes into your home, make sure you safely remove and throw away the stem and leaves before storing them in the refrigerator or on the kitchen counter. It’ll ensure that the dog doesn’t accidentally eat the toxic parts of the tomato.
If your dog has eaten any toxic part of the tomato plant, look out for the following signs of tomatine poisoning:
- Excessive drooling
- Lack of coordination
- Upset stomach
- Abnormal heart rate
If you notice any of these symptoms of tomatine poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately. Remember that tomatine poisoning is treatable if you get the right medical treatment promptly.
A tomato can be a valuable part of your dog’s diet. It can support their digestive health and immune system and also help prevent the onset of various chronic health conditions.
You can simply feed them ripe red tomatoes in small quantities as a supplement to a healthy, well-balanced diet. You can also cook this vegetable to increase the level of antioxidants and serve it as a food topper with their kibble meal.
Before you feed your dog tomatoes, you can talk to your vet if you have any more questions.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding tomatoes to a dog:
1. Can a dog eat cherry tomatoes?
Yes, dogs can eat cherry tomatoes, but it is suggested that you cut them in half to avoid any risk of choking.
2. Can a dog eat tomato soup?
Yes, dogs can eat tomato soup that’s made with dog-friendly ingredients. You should, however, avoid feeding them tomato soup that you bought from a restaurant. It might contain onions, garlic, and other ingredients that are harmful to your dog.
3. Can a dog eat green tomatoes?
You should avoid feeding green, unripe tomatoes to your dog. It has solanine and tomatine, which can make your dog sick if they eat too much of it.
4. Can a dog have tomato juice?
Yes, dogs can have tomato juice made with dog-friendly ingredients. You can even freeze tomato juice in ice cubes for a refreshing summer treat.
5. Can a dog eat canned tomatoes?
It depends on the ingredients of the canned tomatoes. If the product contains seasoning or other ingredients like onions and garlic, it isn't safe for a dog. But if it's made with just tomatoes and water, you can serve it to your dog.