Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Tomatoes

The next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of the most common “vegetables” that people eat, second only to the potato. Over 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced each year. It is widely used in pet foods as well, and found in about 20% of dog foods.

What are tomatoes?

The tomato is botanically a fruit (not a vegetable!) as it develops from the ovary in the base of the flower and contains the seeds of the plant.

But, in the Supreme Court case of Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304 (1893), it was determined that the tomato, under U.S. customs regulations, should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit. The reasoning of the court was essentially, the tomato is a vegetable because people think it is.

Whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable, a sun ripe beefsteak tomato is delicious and something our pets would like to share with us.

Why would tomatoes be in pet food?

What you usually find in pet food is tomato pomace or tomato paste. While tomato paste is made from cooked tomatoes minus the skin and seeds, tomato pomace is considered a by-product and made from the skin, seeds and pulp of the tomato.

Tomato paste or pomace can be found in pet foods for a couple of reasons, most importantly because of its value as an antioxidant as it contains Lycopene and it is also an excellent source of soluble fiber.

Are there any risks to feeding your pet tomatoes?

There is not a simple Yes or No answer to this question. Parts of the tomato are perfectly fine for your pet, but parts are not, so it’s important to know the difference and keep that in mind when considering what to feed your pet.

The meat of the tomato, including the seeds and skin are fine as long as it is a ripened tomato. Green tomatoes and the stems or leaves of the tomato plant are potentially toxic as they contain a toxin called solanine. This can cause gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, weakness, and confusion in your pet. So, keep your pet away from the tomato plants in your garden.

It’s also important to remember to thoroughly wash a fresh tomato to remove any pesticides or other outdoor toxins they may have on their skin.

Cooked tomatoes, or tomato sauce is fine – just hold the onions and garlic as they are toxic.

Tomato Factoids:

Tomatoes originally came from Peru, where their Aztec name translates to “plump thing with a navel”.

93% of American gardeners grow tomatoes in their yards.

New Jersey calls the tomato its state vegetable. Arkansas uses tomatoes as both the state fruit and the state vegetable.

Pet foods that contain tomatoes:

Evangers, HiBio Beef Superfood

Wellness, Complete Health Complete Grain Free Indoor Salmon & Herring

pawTree, Real Chicken & Potato  


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