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Home > Dogs > Can Dogs Eat Sun Dried Tomatoes? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Can Dogs Eat Sun Dried Tomatoes? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Bowl of sun dried tomatoes on wooden background

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Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

Veterinarian, BVM BVS MRCVS

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Sun dried tomatoes are popular foods due to their burst of intense flavor and texture. Since our dogs are always interested in what we’re eating, it’s natural to wonder if it’s safe to let them have one. As long as they are plain, sun dried tomatoes are safe for dogs, but they should only be offered in moderation. Read on for a list of several possible dangers to look out for and the answers to common questions to help you be better informed.

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What Is a Sundried Tomato?

A sun dried tomato is dried using the sun or other methods to remove most of its water content. The drying process concentrates the flavors and sugars in the tomato, resulting in a more intense flavor with a slightly sweeter taste than fresh tomatoes. Mediterranean cuisine often uses sundried tomatoes to add flavor and color to various dishes, and they are also great as snacks.

A slide of sun-dried tomatoes are on Natural Slate Dishes
Image Credit: Alexander_Volkov, Shutterstock

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Dangers of Feeding Sundried Tomatoes to Dogs

Preservatives

Many commercial brands use salt, sodium dioxide, and other preservatives, and while non-toxic in small amounts, these can be potentially harmful if your pet eats too much. For example, too much salt can lead to salt toxicity, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other signs, while too much sodium dioxide might lead to a vitamin B1 deficiency.

Toxicity

Tomatoes, including sundried tomatoes, belong to the nightshade family (Solanaceae). These plants contain a substance called solanine, which can be toxic to dogs. Although the levels of solanine in ripe tomatoes are generally extremely low and do not pose a threat, it’s still a risk to consider when feeding tomatoes to your pet.  Never feed your pup unripe tomatoes or any part of the tomato plant.  Tomatine is another harmful compound found in tomatoes, but as with solanine, tomatine is primarily found in the green parts of the plant, including the unripe fruit, and is not in high concentrations in ripe tomatoes, which are therefore safe to eat.

sad french bulldog
Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

Digestive Upset

Some dogs have more sensitive digestive systems than others, and introducing new foods can lead to gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea. Always start with a small piece, and watch how your dog reacts before giving larger portions.

Seasonings

Most commercially available sundried tomatoes contain salt, garlic, and other herbs as seasonings. These additional ingredients can be harmful to dogs, especially garlic, which is known to be toxic and can cause damage to a dog’s red blood cells.  If you have given your dog a sun dried tomato that lists garlic or onion in the ingredients, make sure you call your vet immediately.

salt pile and pepper and garlic on wooden texture
Image Credit: Volosina, Shutterstock

Choking Hazard

Sun dried tomatoes are usually chewy and sticky with thicker skins than fresh tomatoes.  This could  pose a choking hazard, especially for small dog breeds or puppies.  Make sure you cut the sun dried tomato to an appropriate size for your dog before giving it to them.

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Benefits of Feeding Sundried Tomatoes to Dogs

Antioxidants

Sun dried tomatoes are high in a powerful antioxidant called Lycopene which is thought to reduce some types of cancers.  More research is needed in this area to see how this benefits our canine companions.

Potassium

Potassium is essential for maintaining your dog’s overall health and well-being. It’s an electrolyte that helps balance fluids and maintain proper cell function.

organic raw sun dried tomatoes in a bowl
Image Credit: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber can improve your dog’s digestive system by regulating bowel movements, preventing constipation, and maintaining optimal gut function. It can also help slow the absorption of sugar, helping them regulate blood sugar levels and even lower cholesterol.

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FAQ

How Can I Feed Sundried Tomatoes to My Dog?

  • Choose plain sundried tomatoes with no added ingredients or preservatives, or make them yourself.
  • Cut the tomatoes into small pieces so they are easy for your dog to swallow.
  • Serve only a few pieces at first, and watch your dog closely for signs of negative reactions.
  • If your dog likes them and doesn’t suffer any problems, you can make the portion size slightly larger and provide them as occasional treats.

How Can I Make Dog-Safe Sundried Tomatoes?

Getting Started

  • Select ripe tomatoes that are free of blemishes or bruises. Roma or plum tomatoes work well due to their low moisture content.
  • Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and pat them dry. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise, removing the stem.
  • Gently squeeze each tomato half to remove excess seeds and juice. You can use a spoon to scoop out any remaining seeds.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the tomato halves cut side up on the sheet, leaving space between each tomato to allow air circulation.

Sun-Drying Method

  • You can sun-dry the tomatoes if you have consistent, warm, and sunny weather by placing the baking sheet with tomatoes in a sunny spot outdoors.
  • Cover the tomatoes with a mesh screen or cheesecloth to prevent insects from reaching them.
  • Sun-drying can take several days to a week or more, depending on the weather conditions. Bring the tomatoes indoors at night and when you expect rain.

Oven-Drying Method

  • Preheat your oven to its lowest setting.
  • Place the baking sheet with the tomatoes in the oven, leaving the oven door slightly ajar to enable moisture to escape.
  • Depending on your oven’s temperature and the tomato size, oven-drying can take 6–12 hours or longer. Check the tomatoes periodically to see when they are done.
Dried tomatoes in baking tray and spatula on blue wooden background
Image Credit: Eduard Zhukov, Shutterstock

Finishing Up

  • When the tomatoes are leathery and dry to the touch but still slightly pliable, they can come out of the sunlight or oven.
  • Allow the sun dried tomatoes to cool completely on the baking sheet. Once cooled, store them in an airtight container or glass jar.

What Are Safe Alternatives to Sundried Tomatoes?

  • Many dogs enjoy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, green beans, seedless apple slices, and blueberries.
  • Numerous commercial dog treats are made of healthy ingredients that meet your pet’s dietary needs. Look for brands that contain no harmful additives.
  • Plain, cooked, lean meats like chicken or turkey make great treats if you remove the skin and excess fat before giving a piece to your pet.

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Summary

Dogs can eat sun dried tomatoes in moderation if they don’t contain extra ingredients or harmful preservatives. Unfortunately, most commercially available options will have harmful ingredients that can include salt, sodium dioxide, garlic, and onions, so it’s better to prepare them yourself or choose a safer alternative like cooked chicken. When feeding sundried tomatoes to your pet, cut the pieces small and only give them one or two, so you can see if they have a bad reaction before increasing the portion size.


Featured Image Credit: bigacis, Shutterstock

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