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It happened again. Your dog snagged a few human-food treats without your help. Whether your pet gobbled the last slice of pizza sitting next to the oven or lapped at a bowl full of salsa on the coffee table, you're probably wondering if tomatoes are safe for your dog to eat.
Let's explore if dogs can have tomatoes, and tomato-based products like pizza sauce, and not get sick. And if so, what's safe for them to try?
Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
The Pet Poison Helpline says tomatoes are "generally pretty safe to feed dogs." However, only certain parts of the plant are advisable for a dog to consume. The red (orange or yellow on some tomato varieties) fleshy parts that we eat and cook with when ripe are OK for your pet to try.
The hesitation comes when your pet eats other parts of the tomato plant, including the leaves, blossoms, vines, stems or green tomatoes. These contain tomatine, a chemical that can make your dog sick when ingested.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) says if you see your pet eat the green parts of the tomato plant, watch for these signs of poisoning, and call your veterinarian as soon as possible:
- Upset stomach (which may include vomiting or diarrhea)
- Loss of coordination
- Tremors or seizures
- Muscle weakness
How to Safely Let Your Pet Enjoy Tomatoes
Ripe tomatoes are classified as nontoxic to pets but should be considered a treat, not a meal. So, sharing a freshly picked cherry tomato from the garden or offering a slice of tomato when making dinner is fine for your dog. Just be sure to remove any stems or leaves.
When it comes to the earlier mentioned pizza and salsa, it's best to avoid feeding your pet human foods that have multiple ingredients. For example, there may be diced onions or garlic in the salsa or pizza sauce and foods in the Allium family (onions, leeks, chives) are not safe to feed your pet, per the AKC.
Can I Have a Dog and Grow Tomatoes?
Yes! If you like to garden, consider growing tomatoes in pots that are kept away from where your dog plays outdoors. Some green thumbs place tomato pots on the front patio or doorstep as part of their decor. Or, consider hanging pots of miniature cherry and grape tomatoes high above your pet's play area on a fence or shepherd's hook.
You can also place a small fence around garden areas. This will help deter your pet from sniffing the seedlings and tasting the toxic green parts of tomato plants.
So, are tomatoes bad for dogs? Just like us, dogs enjoy a treat on occasion. Although vets don't generally advise feeding table scraps to pets, a bite of tomato when prepping a salad for dinner isn't going to make your pet ill, but letting your pet graze in the garden unsupervised could. The rule of thumb is to feed your dog the colorful, fleshy part of tomatoes sparingly, as treats, and stay away from green stems and leaves.
Angela Tague is a pet mom and writer living in the Midwest. When she's not making a mess in the kitchen, exploring nature trails with her dog, or attending a yoga workshop, she's writing full-time for multiple lifestyle and technology brands. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn @AngelaTague.