With their regal red appearance and sweet aroma, tomatoes can be an appealing snack to a hungry dog — or one looking to destroy the family garden. And while you’d probably be pretty angry if your dog ate the last tomato off the vine, you’d also want to know if a trip to the veterinarian was in order. So can dogs eat tomatoes?

No need to panic; tomatoes are generally a safe snack for dogs — with a few minor considerations.

Are tomatoes bad for dogs?

Tomatoes can be delicious, but as a member of the nightshade family, they also contain bitter toxins used defensively by some plants to discourage predators. These toxins can be found in large concentrations in the stems, leaves and in the flesh before a tomato ripens. These substances can be toxic to dogs and can cause an allergic reaction, gastrointestinal or GI upset, hypersalivation, a slow heart rate, muscle weakness and even neurological problems. Fortunately, the ripening process neutralizes most of the harmful alkaloids in the edible part of the tomato fruit.

Verdict: Ripe tomatoes are generally not bad for dogs, but avoid the stems and leaves of the plant.

The health benefits of tomatoes

The benefits of ripe tomatoes for humans are pretty impressive: They’re low in calories, high in fiber, and bursting with body-building nutrients like beta carotene, vitamins A and C, folate and potassium, all of which have numerous benefits, from regulating blood pressure to preventing cancer. Plus, they’re full of lycopene, which not only makes tomatoes look pretty, but can do wonders for heart and bone health. Unfortunately, scientific literature is lacking evidence for these health claims in pets. Generally, when wondering if dogs can eat tomatoes, if your pet is eating a complete and balanced pet food, then feeding tomatoes is not necessary.

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Can dogs eat tomato sauce?

Please note that these health benefits do not translate to tomato sauce. Red sauces typically have a whole bunch of additional ingredients, like garlic and onion, that may taste great but can be toxic to your dog (see our pet poison guide) — so keep the spaghetti out of your dog’s dish.

Verdict: Don't let your dog eat tomato sauce.

While we recommend keeping those tomato plants protected from your dog, it’s good to know that this attractive fruit isn’t going to do any real damage. Just keep an eye on the green parts, make sure tomatoes are nice and ripe and when you’re supervising your pet in the garden, don’t let your dog bite off more than he can chew — or swallow. It is also a good idea to consult with your veterinarian immediately if your dog eats tomatoes as they best know your pet’s health status and can make the best recommendations for your pet.

Jun 20, 2018

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