Food & Diet
Can Dogs Eat Eggs? The Pros and Cons of Adding Eggs to Your Dog’s Diet
Yes, dogs can eat the incredible, edible egg!
Traditionally, wild and stray dogs scavenging for food would steal eggs from bird’s nest and eat them raw, shell and all. They had no human family to worry about them getting salmonella poisoning — but that didn’t bother them! The eggs were delicious, filling, and provided a great source of energy.
Today, while it’s not recommended that you allow your dog to pillage the local bird nests, eggs remain a great source of nutrients.
There is some debate on whether you should feed your dog raw or cooked eggs, or whether the cholesterol in eggs is harmful. Here’s the skinny on everything you need to know about giving your dog eggs — the good, the bad, and the smelly!
Are Eggs Good For Dogs?
The humble egg is actually a nutritional powerhouse. Considered one of nature’s perfect foods, eggs are carb-free, loaded with vital nutrients, and high in protein and healthy fats including omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs are among the most complete food sources of essential amino acids. Why is this important? You see, amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
Everyone knows that dogs need protein, but the truth is that protein is not the essential nutrient — it’s the amino acids that are essential. That’s because proteins are complex molecules made up of amino acids. If one amino acid is missing, the process of constructing proteins shuts down. Therefore, a dog needs all the amino acids that produce that protein.
The good news is that a dog’s body can naturally produce the necessary amino acids — all except 10. It’s these 10 amino acids that are essential, and those 10 must come from food.
In other words, if one of the amino acids is missing, the body cannot manufacture protein. This results in protein-deficiency, which causes major health problems and even death. Eggs supply every single one of those missing amino acids.
Eggs are also a good source of fatty acids, which are beneficial for the skin and coat, as well as riboflavin, vitamin B12, biotin, iron, folate, selenium, and fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A. Low in carbohydrates and high in easily digestible protein, eggs are an inexpensive, nutritious snack.
Eggs are incredible! They are almost the perfect food.
Are Eggs Bad For My Dog?
Eggs may be an almost perfect food, but they are only good for a dog if eaten in moderation.
And that’s not because eggs are high in cholesterol.
Dogs generally don’t get the kind of diseases that humans get from cholesterol. The “bad” side of eggs is their calories.
One medium to large egg has around 78 calories, and too many calories will make your dog fat. Obesity is as serious a problem for dogs as it is for humans.
Obesity will shorten a dog’s life and increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and a host of other nasty illnesses. It also reduces a dog’s ability to enjoy life to the fullest.
While eggs are considered highly digestible, too much can upset a dog’s stomach because they’re high in cholesterol. Dogs that tend to have gastrointestinal issues should be fed a very small amount of egg at first. One of the signs of an egg overdose is diarrhea and gas that smells bad. Your nose will let you know if you’ve overdone it.
If this happens, makes sure your dog has plenty of water and encourage him to drink. Feed small meals of boiled chicken breast and white rice until your dog returns to normal. (If the diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours, take your dog to the vet.)
Can My Dog Have Raw Eggs?
There is a lot of debate about raw eggs. On the one hand, raw food advocates site the fact that dogs in the wild would eat eggs straight from the nest.
On the other hand, our eggs largely come from factory farming where there is a higher risk of salmonella or E. coli poisoning. Using organic eggs from free-range hens does reduce this risk if you decide to give your dog raw egg.
The risk of becoming sick from a raw egg is actually fairly small, and that’s because a dog’s body is built to handle the kind of bacteria that may contaminate animal proteins.
Dogs have a highly acidic stomach and a short digestive system that moves the food through quickly, preventing bacteria from building up. This type of digestive system is typical in carnivores; it’s designed to protect the body from harmful toxins and bacteria.
However, senior dogs, puppies, and dogs with a compromised immune system are more sensitive to harmful bacteria.
Another issue is the risk of a biotin deficiency. Raw egg whites contain biotin, a B vitamin, but it also contains avidin, a biotin inhibitor. Biotin is an essential vitamin that aids healthy cell growth, metabolism (the conversion of food to energy), and healthy skin and coat. Avidin is a protein that binds or inhibits biotin. Too much avidin can result in a biotin deficiency — but it would take a very large amount of raw eggs daily for this to occur.
There is also a small risk from raw eggshells. While the shells are a good source of calcium, they can be a source of salmonella poisoning. If you want to add eggshells to your dog’s diet, boil the shells first, then crush them up in a coffee grinder or food processor until the shells form a powder. You can add it to eggs or your dog’s regular food, but in moderation: too much, and they create a distinctive grainy texture that many dogs don’t like. Egg shell calcium is also available as a supplement to be added to your dog’s regular food.
Because there is a small risk that your dog will get sick from eating raw eggs, most veterinarians do not recommend it. If you do want to try feeding eggs raw, talk to your veterinarian first.
How Many Eggs Can a Dog Eat?
Eggs should be given as a healthy treat, as long as you bear in mind the “10% Rule”: treats should only comprise 10% of your dog’s daily diet.
If one egg has between 54 to 78 calories depending on its size, a whole egg would comprise a significant part of a small dog’s daily caloric needs. An egg given in addition to any size dog’s regular meals will add calories.
General recommendations allow for a few eggs a week. But since dogs come in all sizes and shapes, that’s a little too vague.
It helps to know just how many calories your dog should be eating to maintain his or her ideal weight.
Generally, dogs need about 30 calories per pound of body weight per day. That may go up if you have an active dog. For example, a small dog weighing less than 20 pounds who gets a lot of exercise can use as much as 40 calories per pound, while a large dog over 50 pounds may need as little as 20 calories per pound.
That may sound confusing. You can check out a calorie calculator, but it’s best to talk to your veterinarian to find out how many calories your dog should be eating and whether your dog needs to maintain an ideal weight or to lose or gain weight.
The general recommendation is:
For small dogs: one or two small eggs per week. Small eggs are around 54 calories per egg.
For large dogs: one medium to large egg two or three times a week. Medium to large eggs are 65 to 78 calories per egg.
How Do Dogs Like Their Eggs?
The best way to give your dog eggs is either hardboiled, poached, or scrambled — as long as you don’t add butter, oil or seasonings.
Hardboiled eggs are the easiest. Remember to put the eggs into a pot with cool water and then bring to a boil so the shell doesn’t crack open. Chop up a cooled, peeled hardboiled egg into bite-sized pieces before giving it to your dog. One egg can be used as a treat over several days; hardboiled eggs will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For a poached egg, heat water in a saucepan to almost boiling. Crack the egg into the water and cook for around 4 minutes. Let the egg cool a bit before using a slotted spot to take it out of the water. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
While fried eggs are the least healthy way to give your dog eggs, dogs do love them. If you want to fry up an egg for Fido, use only one squirt of olive oil spray on a non-stick pan. Be sure to fry both sides of the egg to kill any bacteria. Skip the sunny side-up.
To cook scrambled eggs, crack the egg into a bowl and whisk vigorously with a fork. Heat up a non-stick skillet, add a tiny bit of water, and add the eggs. Use a spatula to mix as they cook. Wait for the eggs to cool a bit before giving to your dogs. Easy!
Eggs are a great addition to your dog’s diet. Try feeding your dog an egg or two a week. They are a great tasting treat that’s good for dogs too.
If you want to learn more about your dog’s diet, check out these articles:
- Ultimate Guide to a Raw Food Diet for Your Dog
- What Fruits Dogs Can Eat: The Ultimate List
- The Most Toxic Foods Your Dog Should Never Have
- Can Dogs Have Blackberries? - The Powerful Benefits of Berries
- Food & Diet