Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?

Written by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
safe for pets
Dog Cooking Tomato

Story at-a-glance -

  • Tomatoes are loaded with beneficial components that both humans and pets can benefit from
  • Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which has been linked to the reduction of cancer and macular degeneration risk for humans
  • A 2010 study in the Journal of Veterinary Research found that lycopene may help trigger apoptosis in osteosarcoma cells in dogs undergoing treatment
  • Green tomatoes and parts of the tomato plant contain solanine, which may be harmful to animals when consumed

Tomatoes are well known for their distinct acidic yet sweet taste, providing numerous dishes with a delightful base. While humans can safely consume tomatoes, are dogs and cats able to enjoy them as well?

While a tomato’s identity as a fruit or a vegetable has been the cause of debate for a long time, there’s no question that they are well-loved by many people. Tomatoes bring a distinct sweet-sour taste to any dish, and leave a wide array of nutrients at your disposal.

But while tomatoes are a ubiquitous part of the human diet, you might find yourself wondering whether this fruit/vegetable can be part of your pet’s diet as well. The answer is that tomatoes are safe for your dogs and cats, as long as you only feed them the ripe ones. This will help you avoid any kind of toxicity that may arise from the solanine content of green tomatoes. Continue reading this article to learn more about feeding tomatoes to your pets.

Are Tomatoes Safe for Dogs?

Yes, tomatoes are generally safe for your dogs, and may actually be a good source of vitamins and minerals. However, it’s important to note that plants belonging to the nightshade family (such as tomatoes) contain solanine, a compound that may be harmful to your pets. The good news is that the solanine levels in the tomato plant are depleted upon ripening, which means that ripe tomatoes are safe to feed to your pets occasionally.1

If you suspect that your dog has scoured your garden and accidentally ingested tomato leaves and stems, you may observe a handful of alarming symptoms, including sudden lethargy, tremors, vomiting and diarrhea. If these occur, it would be best to immediately go to your veterinarian.2

Are Tomatoes Good for Dogs?

Tomatoes are loaded with components that are beneficial to both humans and pets. One of these is fiber, which is essential for the smooth function of the digestive system. Ensuring that your pets get optimal levels of fiber will guarantee better nutrient absorption, metabolism and bowel movements.3 In addition, tomatoes are a good source for the following nutrients:4

  • Potassium helps maintain cardiovascular health by regulating the electrical charges in the heart, nerves and muscles.5
  • Antioxidants aid in reducing oxidative damage in your pet’s body. Maintaining healthy antioxidant levels in your pet’s diet helps protect them from numerous health conditions that arise from free radicals.6
  • Choline helps improve brain and liver function by supporting carnitine absorption, which is responsible for providing energy for both organs.7

Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, which has been linked to the reduction of cancer and macular degeneration risk. In fact, a 2010 study in the Journal of Veterinary Research found that lycopene may help trigger apoptosis in osteosarcoma cells in dogs undergoing treatment.8 Lycopene content is increased when tomatoes are lightly cooked, but ripe tomatoes can be fed as treats to pets either raw or cooked.9

Can Cats Eat Tomatoes?

Like dogs, cats can eat tomatoes as long as they are ripe and destemmed. The solanine content found in unripe tomatoes and parts of the tomato plant may prove to be poisonous for your cats, though. If you have tomato plants in your backyard, you need to look out for the following symptoms in case your cats accidentally nibbled on some leaves or stems (not the fruit):10

However, this may happen in very rare instances, as cats aren’t prone to eating unpalatable parts of the tomato plant.

Try These Tomato Recipes for Your Dogs

If you’re looking for ways to successfully integrate tomatoes into your dog’s diet, here are a few recipes you can start with:

Tomato Ice Cube Dog Treats

Ingredients:

Handful of mini tomatoes

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 tablespoon gelatin

Procedures:

  1. Wash the tomatoes. Puree them in the mixer for 10 seconds.
  2. Pour the hot water into a bowl and gradually stir in the gelatin.
  3. Stir in the pureed tomatoes into the bowl.
  4. Carefully pour in the tomato puree into ice cube trays.
  5. Put the ice cube trays in the freezer for an hour.

(Recipe from Hello Nature)11

Tomato-Carrot Soup for Dogs

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

15 ounces diced organic tomatoes

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 4 to 5 slices

1 quart water or vegetable broth (no onions)

3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 by 2-inch sticks

12 grape-sized tomatoes, halved

10 fresh basil leaves

Dash of Himalayan salt

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Procedures:

  1. Add tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and water to a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and let simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft.
  2. Using a handheld blender or a food processor, puree the soup until it becomes smooth.
  3. Stir in the coconut oil and basil.
  4. Let cool. Serve 1/8 cup for every ten pounds of dog.

(Recipe from Shockingly Delicious)12

Give Your Pets Tomatoes Today

Providing pets with the best possible diet should be one of our goals, as pet parents, especially as pets’ nutrient intake is entirely dependent on the food they are given. If you’re trying to optimize your pet’s diet to provide the nutrients they need, consider adding tomatoes to their diet as an easy-to-feed treat. Not only are they loaded with vitamins and minerals, but they also provide dogs with a healthy dose of lycopene, a compound that has been linked to a decreased risk of cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Tomatoes

Q: Are tomatoes safe for dogs?

A: Tomatoes are safe for dogs as long as you give them the ripe fruits. Green tomatoes and parts of the tomato plant contain solanine, which may be harmful to animals when consumed.

Q: Can dogs eat cherry tomatoes?

A: Yes, dogs can eat cherry tomatoes, but make sure you only feed them the ripe ones. This will protect them from accidentally ingesting solanine.

Q: Are dogs allergic to tomatoes?

A: While there’s no information on whether tomatoes produce allergens that specifically affect dogs, the solanine found in stems, leaves and unripe fruit may be poisonous for pets.