First of all, let's clarify one thing. Is tomato a fruit? or a vegetable?
Tomatoes are considered as fruits botanically; and they are considered vegetables from nutritional aspects and their culinary uses.
Tomato is an everyday element of our daily diet. Tomatoes are everywhere. Apart from being used as a common cooking ingredient, tomatoes are also used as the base ingredient for the production of various commercial products like tomato paste, ketchup, purée, etc.
Now, let's come to the point. Can dogs eat tomatoes? Is tomato safe for dogs?
If we talk about whether dogs can eat tomatoes or not, simply said, raw and ripe tomatoes are generally safe for dogs. But there still remain some serious troubles with green tomatoes and other green components of the tomato plant.
Before jumping right into the conclusion, first, let's have a quick look at some facts about tomatoes.
Tomatoes are considered very healthy and nutrient-dense. Being lower in calories, tomato is a good source of simple carbohydrates, fibers, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. According to ERS, if we consider tomatoes as vegetables, tomatoes are the second most commonly consumed vegetable in the United States of America.
They are rich in antioxidant elements. Some other nutritional contents of tomatoes are
🍅 Beta carotene
🍅 Chlorogenic acid
Because of these, tomatoes offer several health benefits including
Tomatoes have been around as a commonly used ingredient in cooking and also producing tomato ketchup, tomato paste, and other condiments. In the kitchen, tomatoes are often used as the main ingredient of salads, homemade condiments, soups, and even various kinds of juices.
Fresh, raw, and ripe tomatoes are never harmful to dogs. It is okay if your dog has eaten a tomato or two. Dogs can also eat cooked tomatoes and if the preparation does not contain an excessive amount of salt or other additives.
The problem arises when it comes to "unripened tomatoes".
If you are aware of nightshade vegetables and fruits, you may already know that tomatoes are among one of them.
As a result, green tomatoes and other green parts of the tomato plant generally contain two elements that are quite harmful to our dogs: solanine and tomatine.
In large amounts, these two components are quite risky for your dogs and may pose significant health threats. But the bright side is, as the green tomatoes ripen, the solanine and tomatine gradually decrease in amount. So ripe tomatoes are generally safe for dogs can eat tomatoes in a moderate amount without any significant risk.
If you think your dog has somehow eaten the green parrots of the tomato plant or green tomatoes, then there remains a possibility of poisoning.
In that case, you should consult your vet about what to do. In addition to that, you may observe your dog for the following symptoms.
If your dog shows interest in tomatoes or likes them to eat, you will probably find that your dog is also interested in other tomato-based products like ketchup. So, you may be wondering if tomato-based products are okay for your dog or not. Here, tomato is not the main problem. Rather, the seasonings and added ingredients cause the actual problem.
As we have already covered, condiments like tomato ketchup usually contain various types of additives to enhance their flavors and taste, but many of those chemicals may be harmful to your dog. Other than additives, tomato ketchup also contain a considerably high amount of salt and sometimes sugar as well. Both of these are quite harmful to your dog. So, even if you are planning to feed your dog a little amount of tomato-based products, you must check for the ingredients beforehand. Just make sure that there are no harmful ingredients that may cause any troubles for your dog.
A problem may arise when you have a garden where you grow tomatoes. Your dog may reach out to the garden and may eat green tomatoes or other green parts of the plants by mistake when you are not around. In that case, the unripened tomatoes as well as other green parts of the plants still contain solanine and tomatine, which are toxic for your dog. So, you must keep your gardening area safe by fencing it off. Keep an eye that your dog doesn't go to the garden where you grow tomatoes. Even when the tomatoes are ripened fully and are completely red, still there will be the green parts of the plant which are potentially harmful to your dog as you already know. So, you need to be extra careful if you grow tomatoes in your home garden.
If you are planning to feed your dog ripe tomatoes, you should keep some things in mind before you give it to them for the first time. Some dogs may have allergies to certain food or elements. When you're giving your dog tomato the first time, you should start with one or two slices and wait to see whether your dog shows any symptom or faces any difficulties while eating them for the first time. Then, if you do not notice any irregularities, you may give the rest of the tomato.
It is true that there is no particular limit on how many tomatoes a dog can eat at a time. Still, you should limit the amount to 1 or 2 tomatoes at a time just as an occasional treat, not as a regular meal. One or two tomatoes can be a great source of some extra nutrition from time to time for your dog. Just to remind you once again, do not add any extra salt or seasonings to your tomatoes when you're giving them to your dog.
Other than that, you should make sure that you wash the tomatoes properly before giving them to your dog and you may cut the tomatoes in small pieces so that your dog can easily eat them. And also make sure that there are no other green elements from the tomato or tomato plant present when you're giving tomatoes for your dog. Because the two harmful elements are only present in the green parts of tomato plants.
For this reason, you have to ensure that your dog can never eat any green part of the tomato plant like stems and leaves of the plant and immature tomatoes as well.
Tomato ketchup and other tomato-based processed products are not safe for dogs because of the high amount of added seasonings and flavor enhancers like salt, sugar, and other sweeteners. These additives can potentially harm your dog's health. However, a very small amount of these tomato-based products may not harm your dog. But, make sure to keep your dog from ingesting a high amount of any of these processed products.
Fresh, raw, and ripened tomatoes that do not contain any seasoning and additives are safe for dogs. But unripened or green tomatoes can be harmful to dogs because green tomatoes and other green parts of tomato plants contain tomatine and solanine in higher amounts. Still, your dog has to eat a large amount of green parts to be affected by tomatine poisoning. But, for digestive problems or gastrointestinal problems, a smaller amount of green tomatoes or leaves or stems are enough to cause health troubles.
While ripened tomatoes are not dangerous for dogs, unripened green tomatoes and other green parts of the tomato plant can make a dog sick and eventually lead to tomatine poisoning if your dog eats a large amount of them. In that case, you must consult your vet to make sure your dog gets the proper diagnosis and treatment. Anyway, a little amount of green parts of the tomato plants including unripened tomatoes can cause some digestive problems of gastrointestinal problems.
Tomato poisoning requires your dog to eat much large amount of green parts of the tomato plant or green tomatoes. But, in the case of puppies, a smaller amount can also cause that problem. The symptoms you should look for include:
Unusual heart rate,
If you are sure that your dog has eaten a reasonably high amount of green parts of the tomato plant, then you should not wait for the symptoms. Rather, you should contact your vet as soon as possible.