Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
The Definitive Guide
We’ve all been there. Cooking, and suddenly a tomato rolls right off the kitchen table. Should you let your dog eat it? or more importantly, can dogs eat tomato?
Feeding your pup the wrong foods can cause indigestion at best, and a very dangerous trip to the vet at worst. Here’s what you should know about dogs eating tomatoes.
Can Your Dog Eat Tomato?
Sweet, juicy tomatoes are a summer staple in most homes, but should your dog eat them? Well, not really. Here’s the nitty-gritty:
Tomatoes have toxic components
The tomato plant contains a few alkaloid components that are harmful to certain animals, including dogs. These components are called ‘tomatine’ and ‘solanine’. The plant produces these substances as natural a defence against insects, diseases, and herbivores.
Both of these compounds can be found in any part of the plant, including the leaves, stem and, fruit. In insects and other pests, solanine causes muscular paralysis and sometimes death.
In dogs, solanine can also be toxic if consumed in large quantities. This is measured against your dog’s size: one tomato might not be enough to cause a reaction in a Great Dane, but a young chihuahua puppy might face serious effects.
Are tomatoes safe for dogs?
You might be wondering if dogs can eat tomato, since there’s lots of confusing information. The answer is: it depends on the frequency, the type of tomato, and your dog’s size.
As we already mentioned, tomatoes have 2 compounds that cause toxicity. However, young, green tomatoes are very high in solanine and will definitely cause your dog an upset stomach. In contrast, ripe tomatoes have lower amounts of this chemical and tend to be non-toxic to dogs when consumed sparingly.
This means your dog should never eat green tomatoes, but if they scarfed down a ripe one you shouldn’t worry too much. On the other hand, a younger or smaller dog has a higher chance of showing signs of intoxication than large or giant pups.
PRO TIP: Keep an eye out if you have a garden. Some dogs like to chew on leaves and eat the fruit off of plants. If your dog seems interested in your tomato plants, use some garden quilt or a cage to keep the plant protected. Not only will your tomatoes grow stronger, but they will also keep your dog safe!
Other toxic plants in the tomato family
Solanine is a toxic compound found in other vegetables genetically related to tomatoes. In general, keep your dog from eating plants from the nightshade family. This includes potatoes, peppers, eggplant and spices such as paprika. Other plant families also contain solanine, although in fewer quantities, like apples, huckleberries, cherries and beets.
How To Recognise If Your Dog Is Intoxicated
If you suspect that your dog eats tomato or tomato plant, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Don’t get too scared: Keep in mind that most cases of toxicity in dogs have a good prognosis for a full recovery. As mentioned above, the amount of the tomato plant ingested will determine the onset of toxicity symptoms.
If you think your dog ate a tomato but you’re unsure, here are some telling signs to look out for:
Symptoms of solanine toxicity in dogs
- Gastrointestinal upset. Including loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea
- Behaviour changes: this include confusion, weakness, drowsiness, loss of coordination
- Neural symptoms: your dog is walking weird, has dilated pupils, hyper-salivation, tremors or seizures
- Cardiac effects: abnormal heart rate. This means your dog is panting without reason.
PRO TIP: If your dog shows intoxication signs but you don’t know why, take them to the doctor ASAP Toxicity can be dangerous, particularly if you don’t know the exact cause.
Tomato, like other plants in the nightshade family, has significant amounts of solanine. While in general this isn’t a life-threatening compound, it might cause intoxication if eaten in large quantities or if you have a small dog.
Ripe tomatoes might be eaten on occasion, but they shouldn’t be part of your dog’s regular diet. On the other hand, green tomatoes are definitely banned for your dog.
If your dog does eat tomato, the most common sign will be gastrointestinal upset. In general, it shouldn’t go beyond a sore tummy, vomiting or diarrhea. But if your dog ate a green tomato, a bunch of tomato leaves or just seems off, call your vet as soon as possible.
Want to learn more about what types of food dogs can and can't eat? Check out our below guides:
Of course. Dogs, like people, don’t have the same reactions to toxic compounds. On top of the factors, we already mentioned like the ripeness of the tomato and the dog’s size, other factors can change your dog’s reaction to eating tomato.
In general, certain conditions may increase sensitivity to the effects of solanine, particularly digestive, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
Not any more than raw tomatoes! Solanine is a thermostable compound. This means that methods like boiling, cooking, and frying have minimal effects on solanine levels.
Of course, human dishes that contain tomatoes might be even worse for your dog’s health than a plain tomato. Sauces, soups and juices are higher in sugar, sodium and other ingredients that can be very harmful to dogs. Even if just a bite will generally be ok, it’s best not to give your dog prepared foods with tomatoes.
- Barceloux D. G. (2009). Potatoes, tomatoes, and solanine toxicity (Solanum tuberosum L., Solanum lycopersicum L.). Disease-a-month: DM, 55(6), 391–402. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.disamonth.2009.03.009
- Dalvi, R. R., & Bowie, W. C. (1983). Toxicology of solanine: an overview. Veterinary and human toxicology, 25(1), 13-15. https://europepmc.org/article/med/6338654
- Bissonnette, S., & Taylor, J. A. Common Household Foods that Should Not be Given to Dogs or Cats. https://selkirkvet.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Foods_that_Should_Not_Be_Given_to_Pets_2014.pdf
- Jadhav, S. J., Sharma, R. P., & Salunkhe, D. K. (1981). Naturally occurring toxic alkaloids in foods. CRC Critical reviews in toxicology, 9(1), 21-104. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10408448109059562?journalCode=itxc19