To provide optimal nutrition for their pet, many dog owners crack an egg over their dog’s food. But is raw egg okay for dogs to eat?
Dog owners want what is best for their pets, so it’s no wonder that many are searching for new ways to provide the best nutrition. Cracking an egg over the top of your dog’s food is an easy way to provide added protein, vitamins, and other nutrients your buddy needs. However, many risks are associated with feeding your dog eggs, particularly raw eggs.
Knowing the benefits and risks of feeding raw eggs helps you make an informed decision when considering adding a raw egg to your dog’s food.
Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Raw Eggs
Here are some of the benefits of feeding your dog raw eggs.
Eggs are an Excellent Source of Protein
With 7 grams of protein, an egg is one of the most protein-dense foods you can feed your dog. Eggs also have a very high biological value, meaning that the protein found in eggs is easily absorbable compared to foods with a lower biological value.
Dogs are omnivores who need a protein-rich diet. Protein provides your dog with energy, helps build and repair muscles, and strengthens immunity. Protein also aids in hair growth, hormone production, and the regeneration of skin cells.
Eggs Contain Essential Fatty Acids
Your dog’s body cannot produce essential fatty acids, so he must get them from his food. Dogs need both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but most commercial dog foods only contain high levels of omega-6.
Many vets recommend an omega-3 supplement. Adding an egg to your dog’s food is an easy way to ensure he consumes balanced levels of both groups of essential fatty acids. Store-bought supplements may contain fish oil, corn oil, canola oil, or flaxseed oil. Free-range eggs have higher levels of Omega-3s because most farmers feed flaxseed to their free-range hens.
Essential fatty acids help your dog fight off infection and recover from injuries. They also contribute to a healthy coat and help with skin problems.
Eggs Contain Essential Amino Acids
While protein is important, the amino acids that comprise the protein your dog eats are even more crucial. There are 20 amino acids, half of which your dog’s body can produce. The other 10, called the essential amino acids, must be consumed in food.
Not all proteins contain every essential amino acid. Your dog’s commercial food probably lists the protein content but not all the different amino acids it contains. Eggs contain all ten essential amino acids. Feeding your dog an egg on top of its food ensures that you provide adequate amounts of essential amino acids.
Eggs Contain Vitamins Your Dog Needs
Eggs contain many vitamins to keep your dog healthy, including B-complex vitamins, niacin, folic acid, riboflavin, and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Vitamin A contributes to cell function and a healthy immune system. Vitamin B6 aids in the function of red blood cells and immune response. All of the vitamins contained in eggs aid in healthy growth and metabolism.
While your dog’s regular food may contain some of these vitamins, many essential vitamins may be lacking. Your vet can recommend a daily vitamin supplement; however, cracking an egg over your dog’s food is a much easier and cheaper alternative.
Eggshells Contain Minerals that Promote Joint and Bone Health
Don’t throw away the eggshell if you crack an egg over your dog’s food! Eggshells contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and other minerals that are great for your dog’s bones, muscles, teeth, and gums.
The minerals found in eggshells can also be helpful for dogs with arthritis and joint pain. A study found that dogs given a supplement made of eggshells saw improvements in pain, treatment response, and quality of life.
You might be wondering if your dog would enjoy eggshells. Many dogs do! If you have a large dog, you can even give him a whole uncracked egg and let him open it himself.
Just be sure you do this outside or somewhere you can easily clean up. For dogs that do not like eggshells whole, you can grind the shells into a fine powder that you mix into your dog’s regular food.
Topping Food with Eggs Can Encourage Dogs to Eat More
If your dog needs to gain weight, is recovering from illness, or is just a picky eater, sometimes it can be tough to get him to eat enough.
Not only does an egg add an extra 75 calories to your dog’s meal, but the raw egg running down onto the rest of the food can make the whole meal more appealing to your dog.
Raw Eggs Can be a Special Treat for your Dog
We all love giving our dogs special treats, but many of the foods they beg for may not be the most nutritious. Eggs are a superfood for dogs, but most dogs also go crazy for them!
Dogs have always eaten and loved eggs. Whether a dog finds an egg in the nest of a wild bird or the henhouse, dogs have been enjoying raw eggs for centuries.
A whole egg can even provide an enrichment activity for your dog. Some dogs enjoy playing with the egg as much as they enjoy eating it!
Risks of Feeding Your Dog Raw Eggs
Here are some of the most common risks of feeding your dog raw eggs.
Raw Eggs may Contain Salmonella
As we have heard since we were kids eating uncooked cookie dough, raw eggs can cause sickness due to salmonella. Feeding raw eggs to your dog does pose some risk of exposure to salmonella, which can lead to salmonellosis in your dog. Salmonellosis can then be spread from your dog to you as well.
However, salmonella and other harmful bacteria pose a much smaller risk to dogs than humans. Dogs have a shorter digestive tract, and their stomachs have a very acidic environment. These two factors mean that bacteria do not get a chance to reproduce, so even if your dog does have exposure to harmful bacteria, it is unlikely that he will get sick.
Quality eggs and proper storage and handling of those eggs will decrease the risk of salmonella. If your dog is healthy, the risk is very small.
Raw Eggs may Contain E. Coli.
Consuming raw meat or eggs poses a risk for E. coli in humans and dogs. E. coli bacteria naturally occur in a dog’s lower intestine, but too much of the usually benign bacteria can cause a serious infection.
While feeding your dog raw egg does put him at a higher risk of an E. coli infection, you can mitigate the risk by maintaining sanitary feeding routines. Be sure the eggs are high quality and are stored properly. Wash your hands before and after preparing your dog’s food, and be sure to wash your dog’s dishes after each meal, especially if that meal contains raw eggs.
Eggshells may pose a Choking Hazard
While some dogs can chew whole eggshells safely, others may choke on pieces of eggshells. Small dogs are at the highest risk, but dogs that tend to swallow their food without chewing could also choke on eggshells.
If you are concerned about your dog choking on an eggshell, grinding up the eggshell into a fine powder will eliminate all risks.
Egg Whites Contain Avidin
Avidin is a protein that can interfere with digestion. Avidin proteins found in egg whites can prevent the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.
While egg whites do contain avidin, they should not pose a risk to your dog given in moderation. It would take several eggs a day for a harmful amount of avidin to be ingested for most dogs. As long as you don’t give your dogs too many raw eggs, avidin should not cause any problems for your dog.
Eating too many Egg Whites Can Lead to a Biotin Deficiency in Dogs
Egg yolks contain biotin, a B-complex vitamin. However, avidin, the same protein that can interfere with your pet’s digestion, is a biotin inhibitor.
While it is true that too much avidin can lead to a biotin deficiency, the levels of biotin in the egg yolk are sufficient to counteract the avidin in the egg white. As long as you feed both the egg white and yolk, your dog should be fine.
Dogs Can Develop an Egg Allergy
Eggs are one of the top ten most common allergens. Exposure to the protein in eggs can cause dogs to develop an allergy. An egg allergy can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues. Allergies also commonly affect a dog’s skin and coat. If your dog develops an egg allergy, you may notice scratching, rubbing, licking, and red, itchy skin.
If you choose to introduce raw eggs into your dog’s diet, do so gradually. Monitor your dog for any signs of an allergy. Stop feeding your dog egg and speak with your vet if you notice any symptoms of a potential allergic reaction.
Eggs are High in Cholesterol
Some people hesitate to feed their dog eggs because of the high cholesterol levels in eggs.
However, the amount of cholesterol in eggs should not be an issue unless your dog is diabetic or has hyperthyroidism. As a part of a balanced diet for a healthy dog, the cholesterol found in eggs should not pose any risk.
The Extra Calories in Eggs Could Lead to Your Dog Becoming Overweight
Feeding your dog an excess of protein and extra calories can certainly lead to him becoming overweight. Overweight and obese dogs can have health problems leading to a shorter lifespan than dogs that maintain a healthy weight.
It’s all about moderation. Don’t just add a cracked egg to your dog’s normal amount of food; substitute an egg for a portion of the commercial dog food. No matter what you feed your dog, make sure it gets the proper amounts of calories, protein, and other vital nutrients.
Raw Vs. Cooked Eggs for Dogs
If you are concerned about feeding raw eggs, consider adding cooked eggs to your dog’s diet. While you lose some nutrition in the cooking process, your dog will still get many of the benefits of eggs while avoiding some of the risks of eating raw eggs.
Should You Give Your Dog Raw Egg?
It all comes down to weighing the benefits against the risks for your dog. If your dog is still a puppy, very old, or has health issues, you may want to think twice before feeding it a raw egg. If you have a healthy dog, the benefits of providing it with raw eggs will usually far outweigh the risks.