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Are tomatoes the new poison apple for dogs?

The high acidity and sugar content in tomatoes make it difficult for some dogs to digest, causing problems like acid reflux, or overproduction of acids in the stomach.

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Tomatoes can lead to other rough stomach issues like diarrhea. Not to mention the toxicity that can occur. That’s no fun for anyone! But don’t give in to all the hype because tomatoes aren’t completely scary.

This guide will take you through everything you never knew you wanted to know about tomatoes and the dogs that want to eat them.

Can Dogs Have Tomatoes?

Can dogs have tomatoesYes Indeed, dogs can have tomatoes! They must be ripe tomatoes though because ripe tomatoes are non-toxic and safe for dogs to eat. In moderation of course.

Giving dogs a couple of pieces of a ripe tomato on occasion is safe and it’s also a healthy treat. Tomatoes have nutrients that are good for dogs.

But whether your pup can have tomatoes, or not, depends on their individual needs, health, and diet. Some dogs have a sensitive stomach or are prone to food allergies.

You know your dog the best but if you’re unsure about feeding them an occasional tomato, then it’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion from your veterinarian.

When Are Tomatoes Ok For Dogs?

Tomatoes are ok for dogs to eat when a few steps are followed to ensure dogs’ safety. Tomatoes are ok for dogs to eat under certain conditions including:

When tomatoes are ripe

Dogs may eat bright, red, and ripe tomatoes only.

When fed in moderation

Dogs must eat tomatoes in moderation because of their high acidity which can cause an upset stomach. Dogs may eat a few pieces of ripe tomato once or twice a week. If it’s for the first time though you can start with a smaller amount to make sure they aren’t allergic.

When the leaves, stem, and vine is removed

Tomatoes are ok for dogs to eat when the green plant parts are completely removed. The green parts are highly toxic in large amounts. A tomato is only safe for dogs to eat when the tomato is not green in color, in addition to removing all green parts.

After the tomato is rinsed and washed

Organic tomatoes may be best. But if you feed your dog non-organic tomatoes be sure to wash them well to rinse away any harmful pesticides.

When the skin of the tomato has been pre-sliced or even peeled away

Cutting the skin before giving a tomato to your dog makes it easier for your dog to bite into it. Dogs may not appreciate the texture of tomato skin too, so peeling it may make the tomato more palatable.

Under supervision

Always stay with your dog when presenting them with a new food item. It’s simply a good habit to watch for possible food allergies or negative reactions and monitor in case a new food doesn’t sit well.

In small portions

You can add a few finely chopped pieces of red ripe tomatoes directly to your dog’s food. While moderation is important, small portions at any given time are important too. Feeding your dog a tomato in bite-sized portions only a couple of times a week ensures your dog doesn’t end up with an upset stomach from consuming too much at once.

Are Tomatoes Bad For Dogs?

Are tomatoes bad for dogsYou already know that green tomatoes should not be given to dogs to eat because they contain toxins. We’ll talk more about these toxins below. But as tomatoes ripen and turn bright red they simultaneously lose most of this toxic chemistry.

For the most part, dogs benefit from a tomato’s vitamin-packed deliciousness.

But tomatoes aren’t an exclusive source offering up these nutrients and it emphasizes the idea that tomatoes are nice as an occasional treat for dogs, not to be treated as a vitamin-rich dog runny nose treatment.

However, dogs may still benefit from a tomato’s nutrients on occasion which includes:

  • Fiber: supports digestion
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Potassium
  • Folate: tissue growth & cell function
  • Lycopene

Tomatoes are not bad for dogs. But some dogs may be sensitive to the things which make a tomato so tasty, so they may not be good for every dog. Additionally, tomatoes contain characteristics and ingredients that are bad for most dogs when consumed in excess, including:

  1. High acidity levels
  2. Malic acid
  3. Citric acid
  4. Sugar

Acidity

Tomatoes are known to be very acidic. Some tomato varieties contain lots of sugar while others contain more acidity, primarily malic acid and citric acid. And with so many tomato varieties to suit individual tastes it can get confusing.

Tomatoes contain citric acid and malic acid. Over Consuming citric acid is quite dangerous for dogs because in large doses it can cause problems like acid reflux or heartburn.

Acid reflux is when gastric fluid gets regurgitated into a dog’s esophagus. Acid reflux can be potentially serious but it may be as simple as changing a dog’s diet.

Symptoms of acid reflux in dogs may include:

  • Spitting up
  • Vomiting
  • Excess salivation
  • Eating avoidance
  • Drooling
  • Fever

The high acidity in tomatoes can be bad for dogs when consumed in large quantities as highly acidic foods may lead to gastrointestinal issues.

Dogs can present with serious side effects from highly acidic foods so for dogs that already suffer from gastroenteritis, it’s best to avoid feeding them tomatoes altogether.

Gastroenteritis already includes symptoms that are pretty severe like:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in feces
  • Explosive bowels
  • Nausea

So, avoiding gastroenteritis symptom triggers is the best idea.

Sugar content

Gum disease is prevalent in canines so it probably doesn’t surprise you that eating sugary foods can make it worse. Some tomato varieties are indeed high in sugar.

But is it surprising that the acidity in tomatoes may potentially irritate a dog’s gums more than the tomato’s sugar content? Yep. Acidity is good at wearing gums down while simultaneously promoting tooth decay.

So, in case you’ve ever wondered what animal has the cleanest mouth, it isn’t a dog.

If your dog has a periodontal disease that you’re trying to manage then it may be best to skip tomatoes or at least you might consult with a veterinarian beforehand.

Another option is to feed your dog a tomato that has a characteristically less-acidic flavor profile.

Finally, tomatoes or tomato products may be bad for dogs because they contain potentially harmful add-ons such as:

  1. Additives
  2. Preservatives
  3. Pesticides

When Tomatoes Are Poisonous Or Toxic To Dogs

All the green foliage connected to tomatoes like the stem, leaves, and vine contain toxins that can make dogs sick. The toxic chemicals found inside green tomatoes and it’s plant foliage are called:

  1. Solanine
  2. Tomatine

Solanine and Tomatine are toxins found in the tomato plant. The toxins found in green tomatoes work as a protective deterrent on behalf of the tomato fruit, defending against anything which tries to eat it.

Solanine and Tomatine work to discourage a hungry forager by making the unripe fruit taste bitter in addition to making the unripe tomato poisonous to eat.

Although, for severe toxicity to occur a dog would need to consume a lot of green tomatoes or its foliage.

Tomato toxicity is quite rare but a dog may still become ill if they consume the poisonous parts of a tomato plant.

Although dogs may not get seriously ill they could still experience uncomfortable symptoms if they ingest a green tomato or its leaves, stem, or vine. Symptoms of tomato poisoning may include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Confusion

Tomatoes are part of a group of plants called Nightshades. Nightshades contain solanine and therefore like tomatoes, should be carefully given to dogs. Foods in the nightshade family include:

  • Potatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Sweet peppers
  • Hot peppers
  • Paprika

In addition to preventing dogs from ingesting the green parts of an unripened tomato, dogs should not be fed tomatoes when a tomato is bruised. Solanine responds to bruises as stressors. Bruising promotes the production of more Solanine intended to strengthen a tomato’s defenses.

Solanine can be toxic when dogs or humans ingest enough of it although toxic thresholds are an approximation. Toxicity also depends on how much solanine is in the ingested plant or food item.

  • Adults–between 200 mg and 400 mg of solanine can cause toxicity.
  • Kids–between 20 mg and 40 mg can cause toxicity.
  • Dogs–when total green parts consumed ranges from 0.1% to 1% of total body weight toxicity may occur.

Severe cases of Solanine poisoning can cause symptoms such as:

  • Paralysis
  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypothermia

But in dogs and humans, an episode of serious poisoning is not likely to happen. Serious illness from green tomatoes is very rare but avoid giving green tomatoes or green tomato plants parts to dogs to prevent unnecessary risk.

Can Dogs Eat Cherry Tomatoes?

Can dogs eat cherry tomatoesCherry tomatoes are a regular tomatoes mini-me. Cherry tomatoes are super juicy, perfectly round, and very flavorful with that sweet tomato flavor kick.

The awesome news? Yes, dogs can eat cherry tomatoes just like they can eat regular-sized tomatoes–ripe, separated from their green foliage, and in moderation. But because cherry tomatoes are a little different from other tomatoes there are a few exceptions.

Are cherry tomatoes too acidic for dogs?

The acidity levels in cherry tomatoes are pretty close to the acidity levels in other types of tomatoes. As you recall, tomatoes generally contain high levels of acidity, so too many cherry tomatoes in a dog’s diet can lead to acid reflux or digestive issues.

Moreover, some dogs may want to steer clear of cherry tomatoes due to the high amount of citric acid especially dogs with health conditions such as:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Bladder stones
Tomatoes contain oxalates, or oxalic acid, a compound that is naturally occurring in many plants making tomatoes bad for dogs with kidney problems.

Dogs with kidney issues have a higher risk of forming calcium oxalate stones–they can occur when oxalic acid binds together with calcium in the urine.

Calcium oxalate bladder stones are the most common type to occur in dogs and are potentially life-threatening as they may cause urinary blockage.

Are cherry tomatoes too sugary for dogs?

A more significant difference between cherry tomatoes and other varieties of tomatoes is in the levels of sugar they contain.

Cherry tomatoes have a higher sugar content than regular-sized tomatoes and it’s what gives the smaller tomatoes their delicious taste.

But, too much sugar may cause dogs to get an upset stomach like diarrhea.

In other cases, dogs may want to skip snacking on tomatoes altogether. For instance, dogs that suffer from diabetes are better off skipping foods with high sugar content.

Can dogs eat cherry tomatoes whole?

It might feel natural to throw a cherry tomato to your dog while you snack on a few yourself but it’s better to be cautious about feeding dogs whole tomatoes.

It might seem overly cautious because cherry tomatoes are tiny compared to some of the larger ones. But cutting a cherry tomato in half before giving it to your dog can prevent getting something stuck in dog’s throat.

By cutting cherry tomatoes in half for dogs, you can prevent potential intestinal blockage. It’s especially important to cut tomatoes into smaller bite-sized pieces for small dogs, but still important for larger dogs as well.

Small tomatoes may mask the need for portion control

Cherry tomatoes are small and too easy to feed to your dog and go overboard and a dog coughing when excited is dangerous. Always portion out the recommended amount considered safe to feed dogs to avoid unnecessary bad reactions.

Can Dogs Eat Tomato Sauce?

Can dogs eat tomato sauceDogs can eat tomato sauce as long as the sauce contains only tomatoes and nothing else in the ingredients but this is rarely the case with store-bought tomato sauce or restaurant tomato sauce.

It’s important to read the label as some ingredients typically found in tomato sauces or saucy tomato soups contain garlic and onions.

Garlic and onions are highly toxic to dogs.

Additionally, tomato sauces are often high in sodium and typically, as is the case with ketchup for instance, loaded with sugar. Tomato sauces that are best to avoid feeding dogs include:

  • Canned tomato sauces and soups
  • Ketchup
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Pizza sauce

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Tomatoes?

Can dogs eat cooked tomatoesBlanched or pureed tomatoes are fine to feed dogs as long as extra ingredients are not included. Ingredients to avoid include salt, oil, pepper, garlic, onion. In other words, tomatoes must be plain before they are fed to dogs, cooked or otherwise.

Potential harm using non-stick cookware

It might be worth mentioning that in cooking tomatoes or other types of food for your dog to be mindful of the type of cookware used in preparing it. While the information is mixed, some studies suggest that non-stick cookware may cause serious harm to pet health (human health, too).

Teflon, the brand name used for the chemical polytetrafluoroethylene, is what is commonly used to coat non-stick kitchen cookware like non-stick pans.

Exposure to Teflon chemicals in small doses is common but higher doses can cause serious health problems like liver, testicle, mammary gland, and pancreas tumors in lab animals.

If you regularly prepare food for your dog on the stove then it may just be a good idea to avoid any potential harm potentially caused by Teflon exposure by using ceramic cookware as an alternative to non-stick pans.

Or you can make a yummy frozen tomato treat for your dog that doesn’t require any cooking at all! After all, how much watermelon can a dog eat every summer?.

IngredientsAmountPrepare
Grape tomatoes and a mixerHandfulWash tomatoes, puree for ten seconds
Hot waterOne half-cupPour hot water into a bowl
GelatinOne half-tablespoonStir gelatin into the hot water slowly taking care that it doesn’t clump
Silicone ice cube trayYou can find these at most craft stores in various shapesPour mixture into a tray then place into the freezer for one hour or until frozen.

Can Dogs Have Grape Tomatoes?

Can dogs have grape tomatoesBecause there are a variety of tomato types, it follows that there are a variety of flavor profiles to choose from. Some tomatoes are more acidic while others are packed with sugar.

Where does that leave grape tomatoes? Grape tomatoes are generally smaller than cherry tomatoes and have a flavor profile that’s:

  • Crisp
  • Meaty
  • Sweet
  • Tangy

In other words, grape tomatoes have a similar acidity to sugar ratio as cherry tomatoes although they are not as juicy.

Grape tomatoes are a bit firmer so while they are smaller than cherry tomatoes they still pose a choking risk for dogs.

Small dogs in particular have a higher risk of choking on grape tomatoes which may lead to intestinal blockage so yes, it’s best to cut up grape tomatoes as well.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Tomatoes?

Can dogs eat raw tomatoesYes! Raw tomatoes are the best way for dogs to eat tomatoes. As long as tomatoes are red and ripe then raw tomatoes are perfectly safe and may be fed to dogs.

But high acidity can be problematic.

Thankfully, there are a couple of things that can help prevent dogs becoming sick due to the acidity in tomatoes, including:

  1. Feed tomatoes to dogs in small portions and in moderation.
  2. Feed dogs tomatoes that are naturally lower in acidity.

You can guess the approximate level of acidity in a tomato by the way it tastes, its balance between sugary and acidic flavors. There are specific flavor profiles you can taste that can help you determine how acidic a tomato is for your dog.

So, after considering your dog’s ability to handle acidic foods and assessing your dog’s gum health, you may want to consider making an assessment of the specific tomato and its level of acidity and sugar content.

Flavor ProfileTomato VarietyCompositionTypical Color
SweetRoma, tomatoes on the vine,High sugar/ low acidityRed and pink
TangyStupiceLow sugar/ high acidityRed
Sweet & TartCherry, Grape, HeirloomHigh sugar/ high acidityMay vary in color
TartGreen tomatoesLow sugar/ high acidityPale green
BalancedBeefsteak, Carmelloequal sugar/acidityClassic red
Mild-BalancedGolden JubileeLow sugar/ low acidityPale yellow or green

Sweetness

When a tomato has a sweet flavor it usually indicates that the tomato is high in sugar but low in acidity.

Blandness

A bland-tasting tomato typically reveals a tomato that is low in both sugar and acid.

Richness and flavor (tastes very “tomatoey”)

Of course, this is largely subjective but in general, when a tomato is just really ripe and tasty it could indicate a tomato that is high in sugar and high in acidity.

Ensure that a tomato’s level of acidity stays at a balanced minimum is possible to do if you grow tomatoes in your own garden. You can control the level of acidity in your garden tomatoes by doing things like:

  1. Keeping tomatoes in the shade
  2. Avoid leaving tomatoes directly in the sun
  3. Growing tomatoes at lower temperatures

Can Dogs Eat Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

It’s fine to feed dogs sundried tomatoes as long as you ensure that they are finely chopped. You may feed your dog sundried tomatoes directly from the jar! But unless your veterinarian approves otherwise, maintain no more than feeding your dog sundried tomatoes not more than every three days at max.

Sun-dried tomatoes are traditionally red plum tomato varieties that are dried or dehydrated and sometimes added to other flavors. Ascorbic acid is typically added to sundried tomatoes as a preservative.

Also, you’ll want to take the same precautions as you do with any other store-bought tomato product by reading the label on a jar of sundried tomatoes to avoid harmful ingredients like garlic or onions, before feeding any to your dog.

Outro

Dogs can enjoy most varieties of tomatoes from raw to cooked, to sun-dried.

As long as they’re ripe-red and don’t include anything poisonous, tomatoes are a delicious treat for people and pups.