Ripe tomatoes are safe to share with your dog, but unripe tomatoes and tomato plants are toxic to pets. Follow these simple rules to keep your dog safe!

By Sarah Gerrity
August 24, 2020
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Credit: Leoniek Van Der Vliet / EyeEm / mlorenzphotography / Getty / Emma Darvick

When it comes to feeding your dog, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Dogs definitely should stay away from some foods. So you might wonder: Can dogs eat tomatoes?

The answer is complicated. Tomatoes are one of the more mystifying foods when it comes to toxins. Under some circumstances, they’re poisonous, but in other instances they’re perfectly fine. Tina Wismer, DVM, MS, DABVT, DABT, and senior director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, gave us all the details about tomatoes as snacks for dogs.

While fully ripe tomatoes are nontoxic to dogs, the tomato plants and any unripe tomatoes are toxic to most pets. “For instance,” Wismer says, “[the tomato] plant and small green tomatoes contain tomatine, which can cause vomiting, weakness, and even heart issues. But as the fruit grows, the level of tomatine decreases dramatically, so ripe tomatoes make for safe, nontoxic treats.” 

When it comes down to it, you’ll want to keep your pet away from your tomato garden, but if they sneak a ripe one as a snack, they’ll be perfectly fine.

If your dog happens to eat green tomatoes or part of a tomato plant, keep a close eye on him for tomatine poisoning symptoms. Call your veterinarian if you see symptoms.

 Tomatine poisoning symptoms include:

  • Gastrointestinal issues (upset stomach, diarrhea)
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremors or seizures

How Much Tomato Can My Dog Eat?

Ripe tomatoes are a healthy snack to share with your pup. But as with all treats, Wismer advises pet parents to keep tomatoes as just that: a treat. Share ripe tomatoes in moderation with your dog as a fun snack or even bake some into homemade treats for your furry friend.

If you’ve never fed your dog tomatoes before, it’s especially important to start with a few small pieces. Keep a close eye on your furry friend for the next few hours to make sure the tomatoes agree with her system before sharing more.

What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Tomatoes?

Tomatoes are highly nutritious for our canine friends. You might even see “tomato pomace” listed as an ingredient in your pet’s everyday kibble. Tomato pomace is the high-fiber combination of the skin, pulp, and crushed seeds of ripe tomato fruit. It helps improve digestion for your pup.

Additionally, the lycopene in tomatoes helps strengthen your dog’s bones and keeps the cardiac system strong. Beyond that, tomatoes are packed with antioxidants, including immune-boosting vitamin C and vision-enhancing vitamin A. 

Sharing tomatoes with your dog requires some extra TLC. By following the recommended guidance, you can ensure your pup enjoys a ripe tomato just as much as you do. 

If you have any concerns about tomatoes or other foods you want to share with your pet, reach out to your vet. She can help you design the best nutritional plan for your pup!