Written by: Allison Shalla, Dogly Wellness Advocate & Canine Nutritionist
Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet! They contain essential brain nutrients and powerful antioxidants that help protect eye health, the immune system, and healthy skin & coat.
Are Eggs Good for Dogs?
Eggs are one of the most common “human foods” that dog owners feed to their pets because they are versatile. I know many pet parents who cook up some eggs for their pooch along with their weekend breakfast.
Eggs are a Powerhouse of Nutrition
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutritional value and are an excellent option for dogs! One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein and 5 grams of fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. You may have heard that eggs are bad for people and pets because of their cholesterol content, so let’s dive into that. One medium-sized egg contains 186 mg of cholesterol, 62% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for humans. That may sound like a lot, but there are good and bad cholesterols. Egg yolks are the part that is high in cholesterol, but eggs consistently raise HDL, the “good” kind of cholesterol. As well, egg whites contain mostly protein and are low in cholesterol.
Avoid Feeding an Excessive Quantity of Eggs
So, in short, the answer is a resounding yes! As with most foods, there are always some precautions to be aware of. Avoid feeding excessive cholesterol if your dog’s blood levels are raised. If your dog has diabetes, you may want to limit eggs as they can increase the risk of heart disease. Lastly, if your dog has food allergies to eggs (or even to chicken protein), you may want to avoid them.
Now let’s look at the specific health benefits.
Health Benefits of Eggs
Eggs are a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, several amino acids like Leucine, and an excellent source of Protein and Selenium. Eggs are also high in antioxidants that can reduce the risk of eye diseases. Let’s look at why this is important.
Dogs require ten essential amino acids: Arginine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine. You may have heard a lot about Taurine - while it is not considered an essential amino acid for dogs, some individuals and dog breeds cannot synthesize taurine, so they must get it from their diet, which is why you see it added to many dog foods. Eggs are a good source of several of these amino acids, which all play a role in overall health.
For optimal health, animals need a mixture of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids that are considered essential for most animals are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), all of which are omega-3 fatty acids. One large egg contains 37mg omega-3 fatty acids and 574mg omega-6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid (LA) is an essential omega-6 fatty acid for ALL animals.
Animals lacking in linoleic acid often have health problems like poor skin and haircoat, abnormal growth (in young animals), and weakened immune systems. Feeding eggs provide a good source of these fatty acids. If you want to make sure your dog is getting the proper amount of fatty acids in their diet, consider using Native Pet's Omega Oil for dogs, which is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help promote healthy skin and fur.
Other Vitamins, Minerals, and Nutrients
Let’s look at some of the other things eggs are rich in. 1 large egg contains:
0.2mg of Riboflavin which is 14% of the human Daily Value (DV)
15.8mcg of Selenium, 23% DV
244IU of Vitamin A, 5% DV
0.6mcg of Vitamin B12, 11% DV
23.5mcg of Folate, 6% DV
Learn more here.
While dogs do not have the exact daily nutritional requirements as humans, these are all still essential to a dog’s daily needs for optimal health.
Additionally, eggs can help increase satiety (the feeling of fullness) and aid in weight loss.
How to Incorporate Eggs into Your Dog’s Diet
You may have heard of dog owners feeding their dog raw eggs by cracking a raw egg over their dog’s kibble. You may have wondered, “Is that safe? Don’t raw eggs have a risk of salmonella?” Feeding raw food diets has become increasingly popular in the past several years, including the feeding of raw eggs. Because dogs’ stomachs are different from humans', their risk of becoming ill from things like salmonella is significantly decreased. They can still carry salmonella (and yes, it can be passed on to humans), but it does not make them ill as it does with people. Since dogs’ “ancestral diet” contained raw meat and eggs, their digestive systems have been built to withstand things like salmonella.
Avoid Feeding Only Raw Egg White
That said, consuming large amounts of raw egg whites ONLY regularly for an extended time can cause biotin deficiency. This is because avidin, which is present in high amounts in egg whites, binds with biotin making it unavailable for proper absorption. However, this is of little concern when feeding whole raw eggs because the egg yolk contains high amounts of biotin, counteracting this concern. Another way to avoid biotin deficiency is by cooking the eggs. Cooking eggs denatures the avidin, so it cannot bind with the biotin.
Guidelines to Feed Dogs with Other Food
If you are currently feeding a balanced commercial food, adding large amounts of “extras,” even fresh foods, can throw off the balance of things like calcium and phosphorus. One teaspoon of ground eggshells contains approx. 1800mg of calcium - a substantial amount! So be sure to account for this in your dog’s nutritional requirements if you are feeding whole eggs with a shell to avoid excessive calcium, which can lead to problems like kidney stones and improper bone growth.
A good guideline is to use a 20% rule for human foods as toppers to a commercially balanced diet. What that means is that fresh food “toppers” should not account for more than 20% of your dog’s diet. So, if you feed your dog 2 cups of commercial dog food, you can replace up to 20% of that amount - 0.4 cups or 3.2oz - with fresh foods, like eggs, cooked meats, fruits, and veggies.
Why Add Eggs to Your Dog’s Food?
Studies have shown that adding up to 20% fresh food ingredients to a dog's commercial diet can boost nutrition and extend life. Even the most high-quality kibble available on the market is subject to nutrient loss in the high-temperature rendering process. These nutrients need to be added back into the kibble in synthetic vitamins & minerals. Fresh foods often provide a much more bioavailable version of these nutrients.
Eggs can be an excellent option for a bland diet as well. A common recommendation is to feed boiled chicken and rice if your dog has an upset stomach, but cooked eggs are a great protein option for a bland diet. Eggs are easily digestible and combined with pumpkin or sweet potato for a highly digestible bland diet. See our other article on potatoes for dogs here.
Eggs are also a common ingredient in baked dog treats, which is a great way to easily incorporate them into your dog’s diet.
In addition to the many health benefits, adding a variety of fresh foods to your dog’s diet provides enrichment. Imagine eating the same dry food day in and day out for every meal? Boring! Adding variety helps your dog get excited about mealtime, provides mental stimulation, and improves satiety.
How to Properly Prepare Eggs
As discussed above, some dog owners like to provide raw eggs. If you are concerned about biotin deficiency or your dog doesn’t like the texture, you can avoid this by feeding cooked eggs. This can include scrambled eggs, fried eggs (lightly fried in a small amount of healthy oil like coconut oil, so they don’t stick to the pan), or poached eggs. Free-range, organic eggs offer additional health benefits, and you can even get Omega-3 fortified eggs if your dog requires other Omega-3.
My dogs all prefer their eggs to be cooked, and they will still reap all the benefits that eggs have to offer. Get cracking!
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If your dog could use some digestion help and a healthier gut to absorb and access all the good nutrients you’re feeding, check out Native Pet’s Probiotic, carefully created by their team of nutritionists and veterinarians.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I cook eggs for dogs?
Mix the inner part of the egg with a bit of water and mix it properly. Put this mix in a pan and keep moving it with a spatula. Once the mixture has a scrambled look, serve it cold to your dog.
Can I feed my dog scrambled eggs daily?
Yes, but keep it just 20% of the total daily meal. Always calculate the calories and nutrients before starting with this diet plan.
How much egg can I feed to my dog?
20% of the total canine commercially balanced diet.
Can dogs eat eggshells?
Yes, most dogs can eat eggshells, but dogs with egg or eggshell allergies should not be given any.
How many eggs can a dog eat every day?
A dog should not consume more than one egg per day. For smaller dogs and pups, the quantity is less.