Most dogs love to eat whatever their people are eating – and I’m sure your friend is no different. But are all foods safe for your dog to eat?
What about fresh garden tomatoes and the many delicious items made mainly from tomatoes – including ketchup, tomato sauce and tomato soup?
Ripe, red tomatoes are perfectly safe for your dog to consume in moderation. Tomatoes are known for containing lycopene, an antioxidant that works against cancer, oxidative stress and other diseases in humans and our four-legged friends.
Tomatoes also contain healthy doses of vitamins A, C, B6 and B3, potassium, manganese, fiber and phosphorus – all of which aid in proper bone health for humans and dogs. But, do all these good things outweigh the bad?
While ripe, red tomatoes are harmless for most dogs, there are things to take caution about with this delicious plant. Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), along with tobacco, eggplant, potatoes and tomatillos.
These plants contain several dangerous alkaloids. Tomato plants, specifically, contain a chemical called alpha-tomatine, which is concentrated in the plant’s green portions, including their leaves, stems and vines.
The amount of tomatine in a tomato decreases as the fruit matures. So, the riper and redder the tomato, the safer it is for your dog.
Veterinarians agree that while your dog would need to ingest a massive quantity of tomato plants (including the green portions) for the toxin to cause problems, it’s probably best to refrain from offering it to your friend too much.
Even if your dog just eats the ripe, red part, tomatoes can still cause digestive upset to those dogs with sensitive stomachs. It’s best to keep your dog’s diet sensitivities in mind when thinking about letting him try a tomato.
Tomatoes are also known to cause inflammation in some humans and animals. So, if your dog has arthritis or another inflammatory response condition, it may be best to avoid tomatoes altogether.
If your dog manages to consume a large amount of the toxin-carrying green parts of red tomatoes and/or unripe green tomatoes, you need to become a faithful observant of his actions to see if a visit to the veterinarian is necessary.
Even though it’s very rare, a tomatine toxication can be fatal. Watch out for following symptoms:
While these signs are rare, and your dog should be in ok health if he eats a small amount, it’s a good idea to keep a watchful eye on your dog and keep your vet informed of any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms.
Take your dog to your vet immediately if he was able to get into your garden – or a neighbor’s – and ate a large quantity of plants.
And, it’s probably safest – for your dog and your tomatoes – to fence off your garden or keep your dog supervised on outdoor visits.
As mentioned above, unless your dog eats a large quantity of tomatoes, he’ll probably be ok and be very happy for the delicious treat. So, just one slice, and your furry friend will be in the clear.
However, if it’s the first time letting your dog get a taste of a tomato, watch out for any unusual symptoms to take note for next time. In general, the larger the dog, the more tomatoes he’ll be able to consume before showing any ill effects.
If you notice any gastrointestinal upset, you can feed your dog a bland diet of white rice and plain cooked meat (such as chicken or ground beef) over the next day until the GI symptoms dissipate.
Probably the most-used tomato-based kitchen staple is ketchup. From burgers and hot dogs, to french fries and hash browns, to even eggs – ketchup is the perfect condiment for many of us two-legged creatures.
If you love to put ketchup on everything, it’s a safe bet your dog will want some at some point. We know ketchup isn’t a health food, but is it harmful for your four-legged friend?
Technically, no, ketchup is not harmful to dogs. Since the toxins in tomatoes are found in the leaves and stems of ripened tomatoes and green, unripe tomatoes, most commercial ketchups are fine for dogs to eat.
But, even though most ketchups do not contain toxic substances to shy away from the occasional dollop, ketchup is generally not recommended for dog consumption because it’s nutritionally empty, highly processed, and full of questionable ingredients like sugar and salt.
You might think organic ketchup is a safer bet than the standard variety, but even those labels need to be checked for harmful add-ins.
After tomatoes, oftentimes the second ingredient of ketchup is some form of sugar, including high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. All this sugar can add up fast – which isn’t good for your dog’s overall health.
Too much sugar for dogs can lead to all the same health problems us humans have – obesity, diabetes, heart issues.
But that doesn’t mean the sugar-free varieties are safe! In fact, they can be even worse for your dog. Xylitol, a popular artificial sweetener, causes a major insulin release in dogs, which can cause low blood sugar, kidney damage, vomiting and/or weakness.
Some ketchup varieties also include flavorings and spices, including onion powder, cinnamon, garlic, allspice and extra salt – all of which are not good for your furry friend.
Dogs especially have a low salt tolerance. Also called hypernatremia, salt poisoning can cause permanent organ damage and even death. Salt poisoning symptoms can include loss of appetite, stumbling, diarrhea, vomiting, extreme thirst, excessive urination, swelling, kidney problems, seizures, low energy.
It’s also best to stay away from flavored ketchups that are spicy, because these may contain toxic ingredients as well.
Ketchup packets from fast-food restaurants can pose an even greater danger. These are loaded with even more chemical preservatives than the store-bought variety, and your dog might be tempted to even eat the entire packet – plastic and all! Be sure to keep any of these packets out of your dog’s reach.
You can take into consideration your dog’s size – the larger the dog, the more they’re probably able to tolerate the sugar, salt, and additional ingredients and flavors – but less or none is always better.
Unfortunately, you won’t know whether your dog is allergic to any of the ingredients in ketchup unless he actually consumes some, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. If your dog eats just a little ketchup, keep an eye out for any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms. If she ate a lot, a trip to the vet may be necessary.
And, always, remember that this condiment staple is junk food and should be treated as such.
Tomato sauce is perfect on pizza, pasta and breadsticks and is a popular pantry staple. But is it safe for your canine friend?
Like ketchup, tomato sauce isn’t necessarily toxic, but it can include ingredients that are not safe for dogs. Garlic, onion, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, red pepper and sugar are often used to flavor tomato sauce, so it’s best to consider each ingredient on the label.
Garlic and onion are the most concerning, since they can be toxic to dogs – especially for small dogs or eaten in large quantities.
Onions and garlic, of the same plant family, contain thiosulphate, which can destroy a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia or death. If ingested, immediate symptoms might include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and weakness.
Other symptoms can take a few days to show up, including lethargy, pale gums and weight loss. If these appear, take your dog to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Sugar, salt and crushed red pepper are less-concerning ingredients, but should still be taken into consideration. As mentioned above, dogs are sensitive to sodium and too much can lead to sodium poisoning.
And too much sugar isn’t good for anyone – two or four legs – and can lead to obesity and heart problems. As with ketchup, it’s even worse for dogs to have the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can be highly toxic. Even small amounts can be lethal.
The crushed red pepper is also one to watch for, mainly because it’s spiciness can cause an upset stomach for your dog.
Again, as with ketchup, if your dog ingests some tomato sauce with toxic ingredients, it might not be a dire situation. Toxicity levels are dependent on the size of your dog and the amount consumed.
Large dogs are not likely to develop any serious side effects from eating a little bit of tomato sauce, while smaller dogs – especially under 10 pounds – may become sick from even a small amount.
If your dog has consumed a large quantity for his size, it would be best to contact your veterinarian to see what symptoms to watch out for or have them be seen.
Typically, there is nothing in tomato soup that is toxic for your dog. While some varieties may include garlic and onions, the amount is probably not enough to cause too much worry.
Some tomato soups – especially those straight from your your bowl – may include cheese and/or cream. While dairy itself isn’t typically harmful to dogs, some dogs are lactose intolerant, so eating cheese can cause an upset tummy.
With any of these added ingredients, as mentioned before, keep in mind the size of your dog, how much soup she consumed, and any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite and lethargy.
Let your veterinarian know if these symptoms persist or if your dog experiences sticky and pale gums, a fever, blood in his stool or vomit, and a swollen abdomen.
We love our dogs and want to give them everything their hearts desire. But if your furry friend is begging for tomatoes, it’s probably best to think twice about letting him take part in that fun.
While a little bit of red, ripe tomatoes and their many varieties here and there is not harmful, consuming too many tomatoes – and even worse the tomato plants – can cause too many problems to make it worth the fleeting enjoyment.
Their health is just too important to chance.
The opinions and analysis contained on this website are my own personal views - along with Gunnar's input of course - and countless hours of research.
These reviews are here to help you make a more informed purchasing decision in regards to feeding your dog the best food possible. Be aware though, that every dog is unique and no food will be good for all dogs. If you are in doubt, consult a qualified veterinarian.
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As you can see, Gunnar makes Drew do all the work but heading outdoors with your best friend is never really work! Drew buys the products and Gunnar does the testing so you can rest assured you are reading the most up to date information to make the best decision for your dog's health and well-being!