Can Dogs Have Tomatoes?

It’s a bird! it’s a plane! No… It’s a fruit! I think? Fruit, veggie. Tomayto, tomahto. Who cares! What really matters is this: can dogs have tomatoes?

Whether it’s sun-dried or cherried, dog owners like you need to know.

Have no fear, fellow dog owner. I’ve got some answers for you.


Why Can Dogs Have Tomatoes?

Dogs can have tomatoes, but there’s a catch. Your pup needs a ripe tomato.

Ripe tomatoes pose no risk to your dog’s health. They contain no toxins, and make for a great, occasional treat. A nice slice of juicy red delight makes for one happy pup!

But, like I said, there’s a catch. Tomatoes belong to the Nightshade family of plants. This matters because plants in the Nightshade family contain a harmful toxin, called solanine.

However, very little evidence supports any notion that tomatoes contain this harmful substance. In fact, a food science writer, Harold McGee, writes that veterinary and medical journals contain little to no evidence of tomatoes being toxic.

Nevertheless, it’s best to play it safe, and playing it safe means only feeding your pup delicious, ripe tomatoes. 


Gardeners: Be Careful… Maybe?

All of you who’ve been blessed with the green thumb, I have something to say.

I’m extremely envious of you. Why can’t I grow a darn rose patch? At least I can grow sweet potatoes…

Wait, back on topic. What I really have to say is to be careful.

For those of you who enjoy planting and gardening in their backyard, use caution when planting tomatoes.

You already know fresh, ripe tomatoes do not harm your pup. However, the leaves, stems, and unripe tomatoes possibly pose a risk to your dog’s health. The key word here is possibly. As I said above, the debate about the toxicity of plants remains divided.

One side, like the California Poison Control System, says unripe tomatoes and the leaves and stems of the plant contain the toxin, solanine. And that this toxin harms your furry friend.

The other side, like Harold McGee and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), contradict the claim of tomatoes containing solanine. This side states that tomatoes contain a harmless derivative of solanine, called tomatine. Which McGee and the USDA label as, “relatively benign.”

So, you dog owners and gardening enthusiasts have quite the dilemma.

My advice? Play it safe. There’s no harm in keeping those tomato plants out of your dog’s reach. You don’t want them messing up the plant, anyways!


Here’s The Deal

So, can dogs have tomatoes? Yes, we know for sure dogs and ripe tomatoes make for a great match. Give your pup a ripe, cherry tomato and watch them crush it in their mouth and delight in the juicy explosion of flavor.

When it comes to the tomato plant, the leaves, the stems, and the unripe tomato, things become less clear. Information becomes less concrete. One side says harmful. One side says harmless. Honestly, it’s up to you to decide.

It’s time to put that Liberal Arts degree to work. Prove that nagging Uncle of yours wrong. The degree is useful! Use some of that critical thinking that’s so highly stressed for Liberal Arts majors. 

Take a look at what one side says, compare it to what the other says, and decide which has better evidence.

But, what’s important, is that at least you know your pup can chow down on some yummy, ripe tomatoes. Or even some other delicious fruits.

Chase Correll