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Can dogs eat tomatoes?

A brown lab sniffing at tomatoes on the vine
(Image credit: Getty)

If you’ve got a greedy dog who will nibble away at anything they can get their paws on, you might be wondering can dogs eat tomatoes? It’s not a straightforward yes or no answer in this case, with it all depending on the  type and ripeness of the tomatoes in question. 

The basic answer is that ripe tomatoes are fine to feed your dog as an occasional treat. Unripe tomatoes, and their leaves and vines however can cause problems, and as such should be avoided. Other foodstuffs, such as tinned tomatoes and tomato soup should also be kept out of your dog’s diet too.

It can be confusing to know what human food can dogs eat, with lots of the same tasty treats that we like to eat being perfectly safe for our canine buddies. Sometimes it’s easier to just stick to the best dog food, as well as choosing healthy dog treats which have been specifically formulated to enhance and enrich your dog’s diet.

Are tomatoes good for dogs?

Ripe tomatoes can be fed to dogs as an occasional snack or treat - though you may find that your dog isn’t particularly keen on them. It’s important not to feed your dog too many, as it can cause an upset tummy. 

It’s also crucial not to feed your dog unripe tomatoes, the leaves or the stalks, since toxic natural chemicals can be found here that could cause problems for your dog. 

If you’re growing a tomato plant at home, or in your garden, make sure to keep your canine companion away from it as best you can. 

Why are tomatoes bad for dogs?

Although ripe tomatoes can be used as a healthy snack (there are plenty of other alternatives, if you’d prefer to keep on the safe side), it’s the unripe tomatoes you need to watch out for. 

Natural chemicals including tomatine and solanine are found in unripe tomatoes, as well as the green leaves and stalk of the plant. In large quantities these can be harmful to your pet - so although a very small amount probably isn’t worth panicking about, it’s best to avoid them if at all possible.

Other tomato-based products, such as tomato soup, tinned tomatoes and sauces made from tomatoes should also be avoided. Here it’s not necessarily the tomatoes that will be the issue, but other ingredients, chemicals and preservatives that can be bad (such as sugar and salt), or even potentially toxic (such as onion or garlic) for your pooch. 

What to do if your dog eats tomatoes?

If your dog eats a ripe tomato there’s almost certainly nothing to worry about. If your dog eats a small amount of unripe tomato, or the stalks and leaves, it’s worth keeping an eye on them, but it’s unlikely to be considered an emergency. 

For those that have managed to scoff their way through a large quantity of unripe tomatoes or stalks, it’s worth putting in a call with your vet to get an opinion on whether they need to be brought in for treatment. 

Poisoning from tomatoes is very rare, but there are some symptoms to watch out for. The most common is likely to be an upset tummy and/or vomiting, but in some extreme cases you might also see seizures, weakness and tremors. If you see anything at all concerning, be in touch with your vet at the soonest possible opportunity. 

Conclusion 

There are lots of human foods which are perfectly safe for your dog to eat, and there are also a few which can be potentially toxic. Tomatoes sit somewhere in the middle. The most important thing to remember is that ripe tomatoes are fine as an occasional snack (if your dog enjoys them), and to keep them away from unripe tomatoes, vines and leaves - as well as tomato-based products such as soups and sauces.

Amy Davies is a freelance writer and photographer with over 15 years experience. She has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and has written about a huge variety of topics over the years. These days she mostly specialises in technology and pets, writing across a number of different titles including TechRadar, Stuff, Expert Reviews, T3, Digital Camera World, and of course PetsRadar. She lives in Cardiff with her dog, Lola, a rescue miniature dachshund.