Does your dog yearn for Italian food? Does he like a little spaghetti and meat sauce? Does he refuse to eat unless you top off his food with something he likes, such as tomato sauce? If you’re concerned about whether it’s safe to give your dog tomato sauce, you’ve come to the right place. We can give you the low-down on tomato sauce and if it’s safe to give to your dog.
Tomatoes are safe, right?
Yes and no. Tomatoes themselves are safe for dogs to eat though when the Spanish first brought tomatoes back to Europe from the Americas, some Europeans erroneously believed that they were poisonous. Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family which does have some deadly members. The acidic juice of the tomato could also have a bad reaction to the pewter plates of the time. The green leaves and immature fruit (tomatoes are technically a fruit) of the tomato plant also contain a glycoalkaloid substance called tomatine which can be toxic in large quantities. It can cause your dog to vomit, have diarrhea, and stomach pains.
The green parts of the tomato, especially the stems and leaves, also contain a toxic substance called solanine. Eaten in large quantities they can cause a dog serious problems.
If your dog eats the green, toxic parts of the tomato plant he could become drowsy, confused, and weak. His heart rate could slow and his pupils could dilate. If you see these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.
However, red, ripe tomatoes are perfectly safe to eat. Even dogs can enjoy them.
Tomatoes as a source of fiber
If you check the ingredient lists of some dog foods, you will find that some of them use “tomato pomace” as a source of fiber. Tomato pomace is the mixture of tomato skin, pulp, and crushed seeds that remain after the juicing process for ketchup, juice, and soup. Some people don’t like tomato pomace because they consider it to be a filler ingredient; however, nutritional science says that it’s full of nutrients for your dog like soluble fiber and high levels of antioxidants such as lycopene. So, there’s a good chance that your dog is already getting some of the benefits of tomatoes in his diet.
So, tomato sauce is okay?
Again, the answer is yes and no. Most grocery store tomato sauces contain other ingredients besides tomatoes which could be harmful to your dog such as onions, garlic, chives, and certain spices. It’s best to avoid these commercial tomato sauces, no matter how your dog may plead with you when you’re eating pasta or anything else that is made with tomato sauce.
If you’re buying a plain tomato sauce that is strictly made of tomatoes and perhaps a little salt, that would be fine for your dog to eat.
If you make homemade sauce and you know all of the ingredients used so you’re certain there are no onions and no more than a pinch of garlic, it should be safe to give your dog small amounts of tomato sauce. Do keep in mind that some dogs that are prone to seizures appear to be sensitive to rosemary, which is sometimes used in tomato sauce. Leave the rosemary out of any sauce that your dog might sample. Avoid heavily seasoning any sauce that your dog might eat later.
The short answer to “Can dogs eat tomato sauce?” is yes, as long as it’s plain sauce without onions, lots of garlic, and heavy seasonings. The longer answer is don’t give your dog tomato sauce unless you know with certainty what’s in it. Be careful about the tomato sauce you give your dog and only give him a plain sauce with tomatoes and salt and (maybe) a little pepper. And, with tomatoes, if your dog ingests the green parts, such as the stems and leaves from the plant, watch for any symptoms and talk to your veterinarian.