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Can Dogs Eat Tomato Sauce? Is Tomato Sauce Safe for Dogs?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Tomato sauce on its own isn’t harmful to dogs. However, certain additives in premade pasta sauces can be at least mildly toxic for your food-loving pup. There are also potential poisons lurking in unripe tomatoes and tomato plants, to say nothing of the inherent dangers of filling up your dog’s diet with too much people food.

This isn’t to say that you should rush to the vet every time your pooch laps up some marinara from the kitchen floor — just that it’s important to stay informed. Dogs aren’t great at looking after their own health, so they depend on their owners to protect them.

Whether you want to feed your dog tomato sauce, or need to know what to do after your dog eats tomato sauce, you’ve come to the right place.

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Dogs Can Eat Most Tomatoes 

Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family, a group of plants that contains both nutritious vegetables and dangerous poisons, often in the same plant. The poison in nightshades is called solanine and tomatoes contain a variant known as tomatine.

Though tomatine can be harmful to both dogs and humans, ripe red tomatoes contain almost none of it. The poison is most powerful in the stems and leaves of tomato plants, and in unripened green tomatoes.

If you grow tomatoes in your garden, erect a fence or some other method of keeping your dog away. Once they’re ready to cook with, you’re safe.

Not only do ripe tomatoes not have enough poison to harm your dog, they can actually help them get helpful nutrients. While dogs don’t need vegetables like we do, veggies can help them live longer and happier lives.

That doesn’t mean you should be dumping Ragu into their bowl, though. In the next section, we’ll explain how tomato sauce can still be trouble for pups.

Chihuahua eating tomato salad
Image credit: MakDill, Shutterstock

Can Dogs Eat Tomato Sauces?

Tomato sauces and pasta sauces that come out of jars have many more ingredients than just tomatoes. Common suspects include onion, garlic, salt, sugar, and sometimes even cheese.

Some of these aren’t so bad. Eating too much salt will make your dog thirsty, but that’s about it. Sugar is only bad when eaten in large quantities over the long term, which increases their risk of obesity and diabetes.

Onions and garlic are the real problem vegetables. They’re in almost every premade tomato sauce, and in many canned “ingredient” sauces as well.

Onions and garlic can be toxic to dogs in almost any quantity. They attack your dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia, weakness, poor health, and death in extreme cases. Small amounts won’t hurt them for long, but we don’t advise rolling those dice.

red tomato sauce texture close up
Image Credit: slizard, Shutterstock

What to Do if Your Dog Ate Pasta Sauce

First of all, forgive yourself. You can’t spend every second watching your dog in case they eat something bad. This happens to every pet lover sooner or later.

Second, don’t panic. Unless your dog is very small and/or ate an entire jar of sauce, they aren’t likely to suffer more than an upset stomach. Act out of diligence, not fright.

Call your vet’s emergency line, and tell them what your dog ate and how much. Be prepared to read off the ingredients list on the jar or can of sauce. Let them know if your dog is experiencing any symptoms.

Your vet will tell you to either bring your dog in or keep them at home and monitor them. If it’s the latter, keep your dog near you for several hours, and call again if they begin to show any of the following symptoms:

a veterinarian checking a sick dog using a stethoscope
Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

  • Drooling more than usual
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Trouble breathing

Dog-safe Tomato Sauce

If you want to see if your dog loves tomatoes in its diet, your best bet is to cook them up a delicious sauce at home. Start with a can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes that have no other ingredients or additives (organic is best).

Heat up the tomatoes, and add any or all of the following doggie-safe spices and herbs:

  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Coriander
  • Peppermint
  • Ginger
  • Oregano
  • Cinnamon
  • Parsley
  • Turmeric
peppermint plant in a white pot
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

And stay away from all of these:

  • Onions or onion powder
  • Garlic or garlic powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Once you’ve simmered the sauce, let it cool, and give it to your dog alongside their regular food. If they lap it up, they’ve probably been craving some veggies in their diet. Thereafter, you can serve up your dog-safe tomato sauce once or twice a week as a special treat.

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Final Thoughts

Even if you are making homemade food with dog-safe tomato sauce for your pup, never forget, though, that human food should never comprise more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet. There is no food that’s going to be better for them than a high-quality organic dog food.

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