What is Tomato Poisoning?
The tomato is commonly found in many homes and gardens. It is an ingredient in many of the foods we eat which leads us to develop a false sense of security of the safety of the plant. While the red, ripened tomato is indeed safe for dogs, any part of the plant that is green is not. Gastrointestinal upset is the most frequently seen symptom of tomato poisoning in dogs. If you witness your dog eat a green part of this plant, consult with your veterinarian. Upon arrival at the veterinarian’s office, supportive therapies will be administered to your pet in accordance with his needs. Most cases of toxicity have a good prognosis for a full recovery.
Many people assume the tomato is safe for their dog to eat since it is safe for humans to eat. This is not true. While the ripe tomato is considered safe, if your dog eats an unripe tomato or any foliage, he can develop symptoms of toxicity. If you know your dog ingested any green part of the tomato plant, contact your veterinarian.
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Symptoms of Tomato Poisoning in Dogs
The amount of the tomato plant your dog ingests will affect the rapidity of the onset of toxicity symptoms. Symptoms include
- Loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Behavioral change
- CNS depression
- Dilated pupil
- Abnormal heart rate
Typically, a large amount of the green parts of the tomato plant needs to be ingested to cause toxicity symptoms. However, if you have a small dog or puppy, it may only take a small amount to result in toxicity.
There are different species of tomatoes, but all are similar in appearance. Tomatoes belong to the Solanine family and the genus Lycopersicon. People can grow their own tomatoes in a home garden, in a large field, or greenhouses. Tomatoes are used in many recipes, but usually the ripened fruit is used, not the green unripe fruit. If you plant the tomato in your garden, you will have to ensure your dog does not have access to the growing plant.
Causes of Tomato Poisoning in Dogs
The tomato plant produces the toxin solanine. Solanine mainly causes irritation of the stomach and intestinal lining resulting in gastrointestinal upset. The highest potency of the toxin is found in the unripe tomato and any part of the green foliage.
Diagnosis of Tomato Poisoning in Dogs
Your veterinarian will begin by performing a physical examination on your dog. This will allow her to assess his symptoms at present and note any abnormalities of his vitals. If your dog is drooling excessively or displaying other symptoms of oral pain, the veterinarian will take special care when examining his mouth to note any abnormalities. If your dog vomits while at the clinic, the veterinarian will examine the contents for any evidence as to what he ingested. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, a fecal sample may be taken and tests performed to rule out internal parasites or bacterial overgrowth.
Blood work will be performed to give the veterinarian a broad look as to how the internal organs are functioning. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment. A packed cell volume (PCV) may also be performed to determine hydration status. If your veterinarian feels it is necessary, she may also perform a urinalysis for further evaluation of kidney function.
If your dog is experiencing some type of cardiac related symptom, she may perform an ECG or to get a current reading of your dog’s pulse and to ensure each part of the heart is functioning properly. If you believe or witnessed your dog eating this plant, take a piece of it with you to the veterinarians. This will allow for proper identification of the plant your dog consumed and the toxin it contains.
Treatment of Tomato Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is vomiting and having diarrhea, the veterinarian will begin administration of fluid therapy with electrolytes. This will treat any dehydration and prevent it from becoming more severe. It will also help the body flush the toxin out quicker.
Your dog will be kept on monitoring equipment until his heart returns to its normal function. This will provide the veterinarian with a constant display of his vitals, including his pulse, and will allow for quick intervention if his heart rate were to suddenly change. If your dog’s heart rate is abnormal or part of his heart is malfunctioning, the veterinarian may administer medications to counteract these abnormalities.
Your veterinarian may induce vomiting in your dog to get him to expel any remaining pieces of the tomato plant from the stomach. If the vomit is clear and unsuccessful at producing any plant remnants, she may administer activated charcoal to bind any remaining toxin in the gastrointestinal tract before the body absorbs it. If your dog is experiencing any type of behavioral or mood change, the veterinarian will keep him in a quiet place to keep him calm. This will avoid any unnecessary excitement or accidental bodily harm.
Recovery of Tomato Poisoning in Dogs
If you believe your dog ingested any green part of the tomato plant, alert your veterinarian as soon as possible. Since tomato plant toxicity may be considered mild to moderate, prognosis of a full recovery is good. If your dog experiences the most commonly seen symptoms related to gastrointestinal upset, he will recover very well with the addition of supportive therapies such as fluids. If your dog is experiencing more severe symptoms or acting abnormally, veterinary intervention is needed. Once the toxin from this plant makes its way out of your dog’s system, he should recover without long term side effects.
If you are growing the tomato plant anywhere in or around your home, keep it away from your dog. If it is in a pot, keep it off the ground and out of the reach of your dog. If you are growing this plant in your garden, put fencing around it so that your dog is not tempted to chew on it. While toxicity is rare, it can still occur, especially if you have a puppy or curious dog that likes to chew on foliage. Keeping the temptation away from your dog and preventing toxicity from occurring is the best thing you can do for him.
Tomato Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I'm pretty sure our dog has ingested some tomatoes plants. She has been vomiting the past 24 hrs. She also has diarrhea. She has not ate any food since yesterday morning. She is letharigc and mopey. She is a 130 lb Great Dane. 5.5 years old. Do we just need to let this pass through or bring her to a vet?
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My dog Gee ingested to a to plant. She has stomach upset plus is a little lethargic. She is not throwing up any more n is able to tolerate chicken broth n rice.
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My 5 lb Chihuahua, 5.5 months old ate most of a fist sized tomato that another animal plucked from the garden and took a bite. She is not showing any of the listed symptoms yet. Does she need to be seen by a vet immediately, or is there something I can do to prevent a problem? She is scheduled to be spayed on Tuesday.
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