Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes? A Veterinarian Explains the Complicated Answer

Tomatoes are a summer staple. During this time of year, you can find them growing in just about any backyard garden. This fruit (yes, they are a fruit!) are easy for beginners to raise and have a plethora of uses in cooking. They're also great for summer salads, sandwiches, and more. Of course, whatever we're eating, our dogs are interested in too. If your pup is giving you the side eye while you munch on your salad, can you share one of your delicious tomatoes with him? And if your pup wanders into the garden to snack on tomatoes, should you be worried?

We already know that it's safe for dogs to eat other fruit like blackberries, bananas, and strawberries—but can dogs eat tomatoes?

can dogs eat tomatoes

Tomatoes are a little confusing, since they can be toxic in some situations but fine in others. If you're a concerned pet owner, here's everything you need to know about how this food will interact with your pooch.

Dr. Alex Schechter, DVM, tells that the answer depends.

"Dogs can eat ripe, fresh tomatoes in moderation in small amounts," he explains. "Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A and C, and they also contain lycopene, which is an antioxidant. However, the stems & leaves of the plant contain a substance called solanine, which can be toxic to dogs. Your pet should never ingest the leaves & stems of tomato plants and avoid offering the pet unripe green tomatoes as it leads to symptoms of tomatine poisoning."

To make it simple, only feed your dog fresh tomatoes in small amounts and monitor their reaction. If your pup has gastrointestinal issues, it might be best to avoid tomatoes altogether, because they can aggravate a sensitive stomach. However, with fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C, tomatoes can be a great addition to the average dog's diet. Just make sure they're ripe! Unripe tomatoes are off limits.

Tomatine Poisoning

can dogs eat tomatoes dog sitting with tomatoes

If your dog has consumed the green parts of a tomato plant, watch him carefully for signs of tomatine poisoning.

Clinical signs of too much tomatine include:

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) upset
  • Cardiac effects
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

The good news is that these symptoms are rare, and the prognosis for dogs with tomatine poisoning is generally good. Just make sure to take your pup to the vet if you notice any of those symptoms after eating green tomatoes.

Solanine, the other toxic component of the tomato plant, may cause some serious side effects if ingested in very large quantities. This compound is found in the heaviest concentrations in the stems and leaves of the plants. If you catch your dog snacking on tomato leaves and stems, make sure to get them to a vet asap!

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READ MORE: The Safest Way to Serve Potatoes to Dogs