Outdoor space isn’t the only reason why some people can’t grow tomatoes outside. “In Britain, many people choose to grow their tomatoes in greenhouses, polytunnels, or inside the house because it’s warmer and protects the plants from getting blight, a fungal disease,” explains Tanya Anderson, author of A Woman’s Garden and founder of Lovely Greens. This is also true for many people who live in colder climates with short summers.
Those of us with furry, barking friends may wonder whether tomatoes are safe to share. There’s a lot of confusing information out there on the topic, so here’s what you should know about each part—the ripe fruit, stems and leaves, as well as the flowering plant.
Can My Dog Eat Tomatoes?
Dogs can absolutely have the tomato fruit. If you want to give a tomato to a dog, small amounts won’t hurt them a bit. Many dogs love them for the same reason people do; they’re tasty!
While they are nontoxic, don’t feed too much tomato to your dog because it can cause stomach upset. Tomatoes are notoriously acidic, which could definitely cause problems in a dog with a sensitive stomach.
Be sure you start with small amounts to see how your dog reacts, just like you would when introducing any new food.
Cooked Tomatoes and Tomato Pomace
Cooked tomatoes are safe for dogs, just like ripe ones, and tomato pomace is a common ingredient in many dog foods.
Tomato pomace is made from the ripe fruit and incorporates skin, pulp and seeds. It’s a frequent byproduct of human food production.
Why Do People Think Tomatoes Are Poisonous to Dogs?
The tomato is a member of the nightshade family of plants. Since some other members of this family are known to be very toxic, it raises doubt as to whether the more commonly consumed plants are truly healthy for dogs.
Toxic Tomatine in Tomato Plants
There is a potentially toxic substance found in tomatoes—called tomatine—that can be very harmful when consumed in large quantities.
However, ripe tomatoes contain such a small amount that, even if your furry friend consumes far more than you ever intended, it’s not really a concern as far as toxicity goes.
Unripe tomatoes contain slightly more tomatine, but the difference is probably not significant.
Tomatine is found in greatest concentration in the tomato plant itself—more so in the flowers and small stems, but also in the leaves and the stalk.
Even so, the flowers, stems and leaves don’t actually present much of a threat to dogs. The likelihood of a dog consuming enough of the plant to cause serious harm is very slim.
Mild gastrointestinal upset is the most likely outcome when dogs eat tomato greenery. Large, grazing animals are the main concern when it comes to toxicity from tomato plants due to the volume of plant material they consume.
That said, if you think that your dog has eaten a large amount of tomato plant, call your veterinarian for advice.
Do Tomatoes Have Health Benefits for Dogs?
Since we know tomatoes are not poisonous to dogs, it’s natural to wonder whether they offer any health benefits. Tomatoes can absolutely be good for dogs, which is why so many pet food manufacturers use them in their formulas.
Tomatoes have lots of soluble and insoluble fiber. The pomace form has more fiber than whole tomatoes since the liquid is removed from the pomace, leaving behind only the fibrous parts of the fruit.
Fiber helps to support healthy digestion and maintain your dog’s steady blood sugar levels.
Tomatoes also contain antioxidants and several important vitamins and minerals, like potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K. The amount of these nutrients in the tomato or tomato pomace will depend heavily on the quality of the fruit.