Eggs are enjoyed all over the world — not just by humans, but animals as well. Dogs in the wild, in particular, scavenge birds' nests for eggs, and consume them raw with the shells included. This habit lives on in domesticated dogs, and many pet owners feed eggs to their dogs, either raw or cooked.1 But is this practice actually safe?
Just like humans, dogs may get nutritious benefits from eggs because of the many nutrients in them such as healthy fats. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers noted that a high dosage of omega-3 fatty acids can help in the management of pruritic skin disease, as well as the management of inflammatory diseases in dogs.2
Protein is also an important part of a pet's diet3 because it is a building block universal to all organisms. It plays a role in various biological functions that help sustain life, most notably:4
- Enzyme production — Animals produce enzymes to carry out various chemical reactions depending on their body's needs.
- Antibody production — Proteins function as protectors of the body by binding to viruses and bacteria.
- Structural support — Proteins provide form and structure to cells.
- Transport — Hormones and other molecules use proteins to transmit signals and transport other substances throughout the body.
Are Eggs Good for Dogs?
Aside from providing sufficient amounts of protein, there's evidence suggesting that dogs may boost their skin health by increasing their intake of biotin, a nutrient generously found in eggs. In a study published in Schweizer Archiv fur Tierheilkunde, researchers tested the effects of biotin on various dog breeds with various skin conditions, such as dull coat, brittle hair and scaly skin.5
The dogs were treated with 5 milligrams of biotin/10 kilograms of their body weight daily for three to five weeks. By the end of the study, 60% of the subjects exhibited a full recovery, while 31% noted an improved disposition. Only 9% didn't show signs of improvement.6
Pasture-raised eggs also contain more omega-3 fats than conventional eggs.7 Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that not only benefits humans, but animals as well. Research has shown that increased intake of omega-3 in dogs may provide benefits to these body parts:
- Joints — In a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, osteoarthritis-affected dogs that were fed omega-3 fatty acids had a significantly improved ability to rise from a resting position within six weeks of supplementation. At the 12th week of the study, the dogs had improved their walking ability.8
- Heart — Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce atrial fibrillation (AF) vulnerability in dogs, according to a 2008 study.9 AF is a common heart disease among canines and typically develops as a complication stemming from an underlying cardiovascular disease.10
- Skin — Omega-3 supplementation may benefit dogs with pruritic skin disease, according to research published in Veterinary Dermatology. The study indicates that it significantly improved pruritus, alopecia and coat character.11
- Brain — A nursing canine that consumes a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can result in improved neurologic development in her puppies.12
Eggs are also a great source of choline, which is an essential micronutrient for biological processes. In humans, it is needed for "neuronal development, cell signaling, nerve impulse transmission, and lipid transport and metabolism."13
According to an article in Total Health Magazine, choline is helpful for pet conditions such as seizures, cognitive disorder, and liver and gallbladder disease.14 Veterinarian Shawn Messonnier, writing for Animal Wellness Magazine, also noted choline's benefits for pets' brain health, such as helping reduce the risk for "doggy dementia."15
Can Dogs Eat Raw Eggs?
Dogs can eat raw eggs, but the downside to this approach is the risk of exposure to foodborne illnesses to humans. To avoid this, make sure that you're using pasture-raised eggs. Naturally-reared chickens are not exposed to chemicals, growth hormones and inhumane living environments, have less stress and disease and carry less risk of potentially pathogenic bacteria.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Eggs?
It's safe for dogs to eat cooked eggs, as long as they come from high-quality sources. Hardboiled or cooked in some other fashion, eggs can be great treats for your dog, or as a supplement to their regular diet. Cooking also eliminates the bacteria that can cause foodborne disease in both animals and people. However, watch out if your dog is allergic to eggs. If they exhibit signs of an allergy, stop feeding them eggs right away.16
Can Dogs Eat Scrambled Eggs?
Dogs can eat scrambled eggs, but don't use health-damaging cooking oil or fats and only use high-quality cookware to make them in. Adding fats to scrambled eggs for your dogs, especially vegetable fats, can undermine the nutrients found in pasture-raised eggs, preventing your dog from maximizing the food's nutritional value.17 If you're cooking scrambled eggs with fat, use organic coconut oil.
Can Dogs Eat Egg Yolk?
It's safe for dogs to eat egg yolks. This part of the egg is rich in biotin, an essential B vitamin that is responsible for maintaining various biological functions in animals.
Biotin is an important water-soluble vitamin that works as a coenzyme for five carboxylases in mammals. These carboxylases are responsible for crucial biological processes such as the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose. Furthermore, biotin helps in cell growth and the utilization of other B vitamins, as well as healthy skin.18
In a study published in The Canadian Veterinary Journal, biotin supplementation helped improve the durability and growth of hooves in cattle.19 In other animal studies, biotin was found to help reduce oxidative damage in the kidneys in test animals,20 as well to help manage blood sugar levels.21
Can Dogs Eat Egg White?
There's concern that feeding dogs egg white may have unhealthy effects because it contains avidin, a biotin-binding protein.22 However, the occurrence of biotin deficiency in dogs is uncommon, as it only happens when they consume large quantities of egg white.23 Nevertheless, just because biotin deficiency is rare doesn't mean you won't have to monitor your dog's eating habits. Make sure that when feeding eggs, you also feed them the yolk to prevent your dog from becoming deficient in biotin.
Can Dogs Eat Hardboiled Eggs?
Hardboiled eggs not only are safe for dogs to eat, but boiling them is actually one of the simplest ways of feeding eggs to dogs. That's because you're not using additional ingredients that may be harmful to your dog, such as cooking oils.24 They can be served directly, or mixed into your pet's usual homemade foods.25
Can Dogs Eat Egg Shells?
Dogs have the ability to digest eggshells, so it's safe to feed them this part of the egg. In fact, eggshells contain eggshell membrane, which naturally supports cartilage and joint health. Eggshells are also rich in calcium and adding them to your dog's other meals is a natural way of supplementing their calcium intake. It's also a beneficial strategy if your dog has difficulty chewing bones.26 Eggshells should not be supplemented in excess, unless you are using them as a specific calcium supplement in a nutritionally complete homemade diet.
Homemade Dog Omelet Recipe
Now that you know how eggs can benefit your dog's health, it's time to cook them! The great thing about eggs is that they're always tasty and versatile, and your dog will love them no matter how they're prepared. Try this recipe to whet your dog's appetite:
✓ 2 organic free-range chicken eggs
✓ 1/2 cup of cooked wild-caught salmon or grilled free-range chicken
✓ 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- Lightly grease a pan with high-quality coconut oil.
- Heat the frying pan on medium-high.
- Crack the eggs on a bowl and mix with a fork.
- Pour the eggs on the pan's center, and tilt to spread evenly.
- Once the eggs are halfway to becoming firm, add the bell pepper and salmon or chicken.
- Fold the egg in half with a spatula and continue cooking until firm.
- Allow to cool and serve.
(Recipe from the American Kennel Club27)
Note: This is not a balanced diet, so remember to use it only as an addition to your dog's regular foods.
Are Eggs Safe for Dogs?
Historically, your dog's ancestors scavenged for eggs from birds' nests and ate them with the shell included. Today, however, there are a few caveats to be aware of, such as being sure not to purchase eggs from chickens housed in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that can cause foodborne illnesses.
CAFOs have an unhealthy method of breeding and housing hens inside a large, warehouse-like building where they spend their entire lives in cramped conditions laying eggs. To make matters worse, each chicken may get less than a square foot of living space to do this in. Aside from being inhumane, this creates the perfect environment for bacteria like salmonella to grow.
How Many Eggs Can a Dog Eat Per Week?
Healthy treats and snacks can constitute up to 10% of your pet's caloric intake.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a single pasture-raised egg contains 70 calories and 6 grams of protein — take these considerations into mind when feeding your dog eggs.28 This will help prevent your dog from overeating, which can eventually lead to obesity. For optimal results, consult with your veterinarian.
Are Eggs Good for Cats?
According to Dr. Eric Barchas, medical director at San Bruno Pet Hospital in San Mateo County, California,29 cats are able to digest eggs, both cooked and raw. However, Barchas cautions that raw eggs can carry salmonella and campylobacter bacteria, which can infect your pets and you.30 The difference between you and dogs and cats, though, is that canine and feline guts are adapted to handle large bacterial loads, so there are no reported incidences of pets getting sick from eating raw eggs. So, if you do serve your pets raw eggs, make sure they come from pasture-raised chickens, so the risk of you getting a foodborne infection drastically goes down.
Are Eggs Good for Cats?
Evidence shows that cats and dogs can safely eat eggs, and that they could benefit from this food. You may feed eggs as a treat, or as an addition to your pet's diet (as long as the servings are managed appropriately). Take care, however, when purchasing eggs because they may contain foodborne microbes. Make sure that you're using only pasture-raised eggs. They're safer and healthier for your pet, and for you as well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Eggs for Dogs
Q: Can I feed my dog eggs every day?
A: Yes, you can feed your dog eggs daily, but in moderation. Take note of their body weight and portion your servings accordingly.
Q: Are quail eggs good for dogs?
A: Quail eggs can be an alternative for chicken eggs if your dog exhibits allergies related to chicken.31
Q: Can dogs be allergic to eggs?
A: It's possible for dogs, as well as cats, to be allergic to eggs. Signs to watch out for include itchy skin and ear infections upon feeding. Other common animal allergens include chicken, beef, dairy and fish.32
Q: Can dogs eat bacon and eggs?
A: Bacon isn't generally recommended for dogs due to its high processed fat content, which can lead to pancreatitis.
Q: Can dogs eat eggs and cheese?
A: Dogs can eat eggs combined with cheese, as long as they are not lactose-intolerant or do not have dairy allergies.33
Q: Can dogs eat eggs and ham?
A: Ham isn't recommended for dogs as it is processed and too fatty.
Q: Can dogs eat eggs and rice?
A: Rice isn't appropriate for dogs as they have no biological requirement for grain. Grains can promote inflammation and become detrimental to the health of your dog.