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Dangerous Outcome Could Come to Tomato Loving Labrador

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My trusty sidekick Poncho and I received a dog behavior question for Dear Inquisitive Canine column about a fun-loving lab mix that enjoys eating all of the homegrown tomatoes in his yard. The dog guardian who wrote in was a little annoyed with this hunting activity, I believe more so because she didn’t have any to eat herself! Hmm, that would be annoying – especially when you’re craving fresh tomatoes for your evening meal, and there aren’t any left!

I addressed this inquisitive dog guardian by outlining key management steps such as: Sturdier fencing, barricades, and yard location that would deter (and protect) her dog, while protecting the plants and her morsels of deliciousness. I also included some simple dog training tips including:
  • Rewarding her dog whenever he ignored the plants
  • Encouraging her to provide other enrichment activities that would redirect him away from the plants, while allowing him to “hunt”. Something along the lines of a scavenger hunt for his kibble, or a tomato/kibble stuffed food toy would be fantastic.

Along with the above management and training, there is something even more important about this tomato hunting dilemma: the tomato plant is toxic to dogs! (cats and horses too). The fruit seems to be fine for this dog to eat, and many other dogs, but the leaves and plant itself have been know to cause many health problems.

According to the ASPCA, signs and symptoms of tomato plant toxicity include: Hypersalivation, inappetence, severe gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, drowsiness, CNS depression, confusion, behavioral change, weakness, dilated pupils, and slow heart rate. For more information on tomato plant toxicity, as well as other common poisonous plants, click here to access the ASPCA website.

To read the full post, please check out our Dear Inquisitive Canine dog behavior advice column – the tomato loving lab will be featured on November 13th 2009 on the Noozhawk website.

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