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Can dogs eat tomatoes?

While some foods are clearly toxic to dogs and should not be eaten, there are other foods such as tomatoes that are a little more difficult to categorize.

A dog paws a tomato plant

You see, tomatoes can be given to dogs as a treat but there are some risks involved that need to be understood. The plant itself contains a couple of harmful components like solanine that is found in the stem and leaves of the tomato plant. In large quantities, solanine can be harmful to dogs. Thankfully, it’s usually concentrated in the green parts of the tomato plant so as long as the tomato is ripe and the green parts are removed, tomatoes are generally safe for your dog to eat.

The toxins in tomato plants tend to cause GI (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) and neurological signs (drowsiness, mydriasis/dilated pupils, respiratory depression, ataxia, hyperthermia).

  • This is less of an issue with ingesting fruit itself, although GI upset if the dog overindulges.
  • Takes a pretty significant exposure to cause more than GI upset.
  • Consult your veterinarian if you dog is on a special diet before offering any new treats.
  • Along this same line only one new treat should be offered at a time, preferably separated by 1-2 weeks so if your dog develops any negative side effects it is easier to determine what it is caused by.

So can dogs eat tomatoes? The short answer is yes, as long as they are ripe and fed in moderation. To make things a little clearer, here’s some further information regarding the risks, how to moderate tomato consumption and some delicious recipes to try out.

Common symptoms of tomatine poisoning

If you suspect that your dog has eaten the green parts of a tomato plant, then here are a couple of the most common symptoms to look out for:

  • Lethargy (weakness, fatigue)
  • Tremors over the body
  • Vomiting or diarrhea, usually a few hours after ingesting solanine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures

Thankfully, many of these symptoms are rare and tomatine poisoning usually isn’t fatal for your dog. However, it’s still a good idea to get in touch with your local vet should you suspect your dog is suffering from one or more of these conditions. A visit like this is almost always covered by your pet insurance.

Moderating tomato consumption

As with most treats, tomatoes should be consumed in moderation. However, it’s also important to keep your dog away from the green parts of the tomato plant, so here are a couple of useful tips to keep in mind.

  • Keep gardening areas fenced off. If you grow tomatoes in your garden then make sure the area is fenced off and your dog stays clear from it. This is because dogs are prone to eating the tomatoes that aren’t fully ripe yet and they may ingest too much solanine which can lead to tomatine poisoning.

  • Prepare tomatoes properly. Ensure that every tomato you feed to your dog has all of the green parts removed. When adding tomatoes to a recipe, make sure you slice the tomatoes to make them easier to eat and so there’s less chance of accidentally leaving some of the green parts.

  • Feed in moderation. Make sure you don’t feed your dog too many tomatoes. Once they grow accustomed to it, they might leap into your grocery basket and potentially eat the green parts of the tomato plant that haven’t been removed yet. While nutritious and delicious, make sure you control your dog’s appetite.

Tomato recipes for your dog

Here are a couple of our favorite ideas for tomato-related treats that you can make and feed your dog.

Dog-friendly pizzas

Dogs love pizzas just as much as humans, so here’s a recipe for a dog-friendly pizza that you can eat yourself and also feed to your dog. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of Flour
  • 1 teaspoon of assorted Italian herbs (parsley, basil, oregano)
  • 1 cup water or unsalted meat broth (chicken, beef)
  • 1 large egg
  • Tomato sauce for base
  • Toppings (various vegetables, meats)

First, preheat your oven to 400ºF/200ºC. Next, mix the flour and herbs in a large bowl. Next, whisk an egg in a separate bowl while adding the water or broth. Make a well in the dry ingredients then add the wet ingredients. Combine then get ready to knead. Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it out with a pin or with your hands until it’s smooth and round. Place onto a well-oiled baking tray then press it down. Add the tomato sauce base then spread toppings over it. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust has formed and the cheese has browned. Your pizza is now ready to serve! Just wait for it to cool a little then slice it bite-sized pieces for your dog to enjoy.

Cheesy tomato dog biscuits

If your dog just loves dog treats and biscuits, then this homemade variety will win their hearts! You’re going to need:

  • 1 ¾ cup of flour (use whole wheat if possible)
  • ⅓ cup of low-fat or non-fat milk
  • One large egg
  • 5 tablespoons of butter
  • A can of tomato paste
  • ½ cup of assorted cheese (mozzarella is a great choice!)
  • 2 teaspoons of your favourite Italian herbs (mix parsley, oregano and basil)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF/180ºC and place baking paper over a baking tray. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to combine everything. Knead the dough into a large ball and roll it onto a floured surface until the biscuits are around ¼ of an inch thick. Cut with a cookie cutter into your favourite shape and poke holes into each biscuit. Bake for 10 minutes, cool, then place them in the fridge for storage.

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A dog and cat snuggle

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