People consume eggs almost everywhere in the world. They’re a favorite in breakfast and baking. They taste delicious boiled or scrambled. And, best of all, they pack a ton of protein. In 2018, over 76.7 million metric tons of eggs were produced worldwide (1). As human consumption of eggs continues to climb, you may wonder: Can dogs eat eggs too?
Let’s review whether dogs can eat eggs and go over the different cooking variations to see if they are safe for our pups.
Can Dogs Eat Eggs?
Generally, eggs are safe for dogs to eat. They are a highly digestible source of protein and fat for our canine companions. The average cooked egg contains about 75 calories, nearly 6 grams of protein and just over 5 grams of fat.
The protein fraction of eggs contains a complete essential amino acid profile and they are very highly digestible, giving them the reputation of being a good source of dietary protein. Processed egg products are a common ingredient in many commercial dog foods.
Dogs and Eggs: Preparation and Types
Eggs contain a yolk, an egg white, and a shell. The yolk is rich in nutrients, since this is where embryos grow if eggs are fertilized. The egg white, which surrounds the yolk, is composed of a thin and thick substance called albumen that is made up primarily of water and dissolved proteins. The egg white contributes to around half of the protein content of an egg. Encasing these soft structures is the egg’s shell. The shell is a rigid structure composed predominantly of calcium carbonate.
When it comes to nutrition, people generally discard the shell and cook the white and yolk. But when it comes to preparing eggs for dogs, there are some things you should keep in mind.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Eggs?
Experts consider raw eggs unsafe for dogs for a number of reasons. First, raw eggs may be contaminated with bacteria, potentially transmitting infections including E. coli and Salmonella. Studies show that the risk of Salmonella is significantly greater in dogs who eat raw eggs (2). Not only can these bacteria cause serious illness in dogs (and their owners), but these infections may be hard to treat.
In addition to the food safety concerns, there are nutritional concerns with respect to raw eggs. The egg white contains a protein called avidin, which binds biotin, a B-vitamin (3). Biotin is not an essential nutrient for dogs, meaning it doesn’t need to be present in their diet as dogs can synthesize it themselves. Yet, feeding raw eggs can actually induce biotin deficiency as the synthesized biotin is bound by the avidin and cannot be utilized by the dog.
Can Dogs Eat Egg Shells?
Generally, you should avoid feeding egg shells to your dog. Egg shells are composed predominantly of calcium carbonate, a very calcium-rich, highly digestible compound. This provides a large dose of calcium in addition to the calcium provided in a dog’s main diet.
Calcium recommendations are quite strict for dogs and even more so for growing puppies. Adding extra dietary calcium can easily imbalance the diet, especially from a source such as egg shell that is rich in calcium but deficient in phosphorus. The imbalance of the calcium to phosphorus ratio can impact vitamin D status and have effects on skeletal metabolism (4).
Furthermore, the kidneys filter calcium and phosphorus from the blood. Mineralization of the kidneys is a component of chronic kidney disease and can be exacerbated by high levels of dietary calcium.
Can Dogs Eat Egg Yolks?
Dogs can eat cooked egg yolks, as long as it’s in moderation. Egg yolks are very energy-dense (i.e. high calorie) and rich in fat, including cholesterol. In humans, dietary cholesterol can cause many adverse health effects. However, in dogs, we do not have quite the same concerns as cholesterol seems better tolerated.
However, dietary cholesterol can exacerbate several dog health conditions including lipemia and hypertriglyceridemia (elevated levels of fat in the blood) and pancreatitis (5). In these dogs especially, egg yolks should not be fed.
For healthy dogs, a dose of fat and cholesterol from egg yolks may not be harmful, though pet parents should be aware of the risk of inducing pancreatitis. Certain breeds of dogs, including Miniature Schnauzers and Terriers, are at increased risk of developing pancreatitis.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Eggs?
Cooked eggs are less dangerous to dogs—though that does depend on how you prepare them. Cooking kills pathogenic bacteria and reduces the risk of Salmonella.
However, cooking doesn’t change the nutritional composition of eggs and the high fat content is still present. Additionally, if eggs are fried, the added fat from oil or butter can increase the risk of an adverse reaction. If eggs are scrambled with added milk, the risk of diarrhea increases, as many dogs do not tolerate dairy products well.
Interested in feeding your dog cooked eggs? Boil or scramble them without any additives. It’s also important to consider the portion size when feeding eggs to dogs. The average egg contains about 75 calories. Dogs should consume a maximum of 10 percent of their daily energy from incomplete food sources, including eggs. That means only dogs over 50 pounds could eat a whole egg in a day as part of a balanced diet.
Can Dogs Eat Hard-Boiled Eggs?
Hard boiling eggs will kill pathogenic bacteria, making it a safe option for dogs. However, as with the section on cooked eggs above, hard-boiled eggs are still high in fat and calories. That means the risk of excess dietary fat still exists if you feed dogs hard-boiled eggs. Dogs known to have health conditions such as triglyceridemia, lipemia, or pancreatitis should not get hard-boiled eggs.
Keep portion control in mind. Dogs should not get more than 10 percent of their calories from treats and dietary additives including eggs.
Can Dogs Eat Deviled Eggs?
Deviled eggs should not be fed to dogs. The added mayonnaise brings even more fat and could cause adverse effects. Even if the fatty snack doesn’t cause pancreatitis, dogs could still suffer other effects from excessive fat such as steatorrhea (greasy diarrhea).
If your dog happens to gobble up some deviled eggs from counter surfing, keep a close eye on them for signs of gastrointestinal upset such as lip smacking, drooling, and vomiting. If you have concerns, you can always give your veterinarian a call.
What Are the Health Benefits of Eggs for Dogs?
Because of their nutritional profile, eggs offer many amazing benefits to humans. Fortunately, many of these same benefits carry over to dogs as well. When properly fed to your pooch, eggs can contribute positively to his health.
Eggs are one of the most nutritionally dense foods. Packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, the nutritional profile of eggs includes:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- Fatty Acids
Included in many pre-packaged dog foods, eggs can provide an array of health benefits for pups. The high level of protein in eggs is a crucial ingredient in your dog’s health, helping him stay fit and strong. Additionally, the fatty acids found in the egg yolk help build and maintain your dog’s cells. Finally, the vitamins and minerals contribute to a healthier immune system, stronger teeth and bones, and a shinier coat.
Keep reading to learn the best ways to prepare and feed eggs to your dog to get the most out of these potential benefits.
How to Feed Dogs Eggs
If you want to feed eggs to your dog, only offer plain boiled or scrambled eggs free of any additives. Add them to your dog’s food at mealtime or as a snack or treat during the day.
Feeding too large of a portion could unbalance your dog’s diet or lead to unwanted weight gain. If you give a portion of an egg to your dog, subtract the amount of calories from their regular meal and reduce the portion respectively.
If you have any questions about portion size or feeding dogs eggs, speak with your veterinarian.
How Often Can Dogs Eat Eggs?
There isn’t really a defined frequency for feeding dogs eggs. If you’re wondering how many eggs dogs can eat a week, the universal recommendation is to avoid feeding more than 10 percent of a dog’s diet from treats, snacks, and scraps.
Eggs are high in fat and cholesterol. Take this into account before feeding them to your dog, since not all dogs will process eggs in the same way. Like humans, dogs are individuals. Consider their specific nutritional requirements before you add new foods to their diets.
Consult your veterinarian to identify any nutritional concerns for your dog. Alternatively, there are also specialist veterinary nutritionists who can work with you and your dog to make tailored dietary recommendations to fit your dog’s needs.