Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes Safely?
There is more to story that you really need to know . . . . Dogs are amazingly food oriented animals and will eat, or at least try to eat, almost anything. Dogs will eagerly snap up almost any food nutritious for humans regardless of its toxicity for dogs. Thus, dogs will gobble up chocolate, eat an onion, or slurp up a spilled beer even though doing so could potentially be fatal.
What about tomatoes?
Whether or not dogs can eat tomatoes is an amazingly popular question. At least, it is amazing to me because many, many visitors to this blog come here for an answer. Well, the answer is “yes,” and I hope you will read on to find out why. And by the way, did you know that tomatoes, under certain conditions, may be harmful to humans? I’ll talk about that in just a moment, too.
Why Tomatoes May be Harmful but Usually Are Not
Tomatoes contain high levels of two substances of interest to us. First, lycopene, which is an anti-oxidant claimed to reduce risk of cancer and other degenerative diseases, and the second, tomatine, which can be poisonous. To understand why tomatoes are dangerous to dogs (and on occasion to humans) it is important to know that tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family of plants. You might be surprised to know that the potato is also a member of this family; and you may have heard of the drug, belladonna, also a nightshade.
The leaves and stems of the tomato plant contain a substance called atropine, which is poisonous to both dogs and humans. The green, unripe tomatoes contain relatively small amounts of another substance called tomatine, which is also poisonous. While the amounts of tomatine in the green tomato are not generally sufficient to be harmful to humans, they can be harmful to dogs. However, the amount of tomatine in the tomato decreases as it ripens, and so by the time it is red, there is no more tomatine in the fruit (yes, tomatoes are actually classified as fruits). So dogs can safely eat red, ripe tomatoes but should never eat green tomatoes or the leaves and stems of the tomato plant. The leaves and stems of the tomato plant are far more poisonous, and these could kill your dog should it eat enough. You might find it interesting to note that according to Wikipedia, there is at least one human death attributed to drinking tea made from the tomato plant leaves.
As for dogs, to repeat, they can safely eat the red, ripe tomato, and tomatoes can be quite nutritious. There should be nothing wrong with feeding your dog a bit of tomato or adding a little to supplement one of its regular feedings.
To truly take charge of your dog’s diet, you may be interested in learning about homemade dog food. I recommend the Dogtalknation.com book,
Homemade Healthy Dog Food Recipes, which ships with free software.