Vegetable Gardening With Dogs

We love all dogs and live with an elderly Doberman Pincher. But gardening with dogs can definitely have its challenges, especially when your trusted companion has a taste for heirloom tomatoes. On the right, the aftermath of one of our dog’s nightly tomato raids, this time targeting our healthiest and most productive vine, a variety called Giant Syrian. The dog has managed to claim all but a few of the tomatoes off this vine, knocking off many unripe ones in the process. FYI, the Giant Syrian tomato is our favorite variety this year, producing large, flavorful and meaty fruit. Hopefully the Doberman will leave a few for us. [Update: an alert reader has pointed out that tomatoes are toxic to canines. The ASPCA says that the green parts are toxic, but others claim that both the ripe and unripe fruit are also a problem.]

On the subject of tomatoes, here’s a very beautiful and useful website with pictures and descriptions of many heirloom tomato and vegetable varieties: the Heirloom Vegetable Archive.

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  1. Our lab taught the Old English to raid the garden. Both would harvest as many tomatoes as they could eat – and they didn’t seem to care which varieties they picked. The lab was partial to cherry tomatoes but the OE usually stuck to the bigger ones.

    And they also harvested the carrots – pulling them up or (more often) pulling half the carrot out of the ground when it broke under their teeth. All this with full bowls of food on constant feeding system so they weren’t hungry. They just liked the taste. At least the OE had the decency to look ashamed when we caught them while the lab simply figured as part of the family, she could harvest all she wanted.

    They never got sick on this diet either.

  2. I have a pug who eats tomatoes like it’s his job – hasn’t seemed to have an effect on his health one way or another. However, he also occasionally finds a way to raid the neighbor’s garden, which could have a very real negative effect on his health.

  3. We have a West Highland Terrier that always seems to sneak a few cherry tomatoes when no one is looking. So far no adverse affects, but obviously not a good thing that he is eating tomatoes.

  4. I’ve got some pet goats, all of which occasionally break out of the massive field I have them in, go straight to my garden and pretty much eat everything, at least twice a year.

    Tomatoes are also poisonous to goats, or so I’ve read, though you wouldn’t think it by the volume of them they have consumed.

    It’s probably one of those things where it greatly depends on the dog, I’ve had dogs who have eaten entire bricks of baking chocolate with no ill effect, while friends have had dogs eat half a Hershey bar and have died.

    Better to be safe though. A few organic sprays are available which may deter dogs.

  5. It probably depends on breed, I have an Akita and their breed is notoriously allergic to onions. Amounts that wouldn’t faze other dogs are supposed to be fatal to him. (of course, we try to make sure we will never find out how allergic he really is!)

  6. My beagle loved cherry tomatoes and I regularly used tomato juice or V8 to moisten his dry dog food with no apparent ill effects. He’d lick all the juice off the kibbles and look to me for more.

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