Can Dogs Eat Eggs? Here’s What Vets Say
Can dogs eat eggs? Well, of course they can. But the question is: Should they?
Your fork is poised above the piping hot plate of bacon and eggs you just fixed for yourself. But before you can take a bite, your precious pup sidles into the room, sits down beside you and proceeds to stare at you with those sweet, soulful eyes. It’s almost too much to resist—except didn’t you read somewhere that bacon is among the most toxic foods for dogs? And if dogs can’t eat bacon, then what human foods can dogs eat? Like, here you were thinking eggs were just fine for your canine. But are they really? Can dogs eat eggs?
Certainly, one would hope so, given the sheer volume of breakfast table scraps many of us have seen our perpetually peckish four-legged pals devour over the years. But is it OK to actually offer your dog eggs? If so, does it matter how they’re prepared? And while we’re at it, how many eggs count as a doggie-sized serving? Moreover, since eggs are a complete protein, might they fit into what veterinarians consider to be the best diet for dogs? So many questions, and who better to ask than our cadre of veterinarians who have previously answered such pressing pooch questions as whether dogs can eat bananas, ice cream and popcorn? Find out the answers to all your egg-related questions and more below.
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Are eggs good for dogs?
Yes! Veterinarians may have their secrets, but not about this question. Eggs can help settle a dog’s upset tummy, and according to veterinary surgeon Kathryn Rosalie Dench, DVM, they’re also an excellent source of nutrients essential to your dog’s health and well-being. These include:
Protein helps supply your pup with energy, aids in the growth and maintenance of muscle mass, builds and repairs tissues, and supports healthy immune function, according to Ellen Russell, DVM, a veterinarian with The Malamute Mom. And it just so happens that eggs are one of “the best protein sources you can offer your canine companion,” Sabrina Kong, DVM, a veterinarian with We Love Doodles, tells Reader’s Digest.
Eggs contain several vitamins that support your dog’s health. “Vitamin A is important for healthy vision and growth, B2 helps convert food into energy, B12 helps with the formation of red blood cells and supports a healthy nervous system, and D helps your dog absorb calcium for strong bones,” Dr. Russell explains.
“Eggs are also a good source of minerals, such as iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc,” adds Dr. Russell. Iron is important for healthy blood. Phosphorous supports strong bones and teeth. Selenium helps maintain a healthy immune system. And zinc is essential to your dog’s skin and coat.
Essential fatty acids
In addition to protein, vitamins and minerals, eggs are also rich in essential fatty acids. Two in particular, omega-3 and omega-6, are important for maintaining the health of your dog’s skin and coat.
How many eggs can you give a dog each day?
Since eggs are packed with essential doggy nutrients, you might be wondering if eating eggs is something your dog should be doing every day. The answer is no, according to Dr. Kong. Eggs should be treated as supplemental to your dog’s diet. In other words, eggs should be offered only as an occasional treat—and not as a replacement for your dog’s regular food.
That’s because eggs’ high protein content can become problematic for some dogs, particularly ones with certain pre-existing conditions (e.g., kidney disease). Likewise, eggs’ cholesterol content, while not an issue for most healthy dogs, may present challenges for pups dealing with pancreatitis or hyperlipidemia, Dr. Dench points out.
And in the interest of avoiding unwanted weight gain, eggs should be consumed by dogs in moderation. What stands as moderation for any given dog will depend upon their size, weight and activity level, in addition to their health status and any pre-existing conditions. Accordingly, the most cautious approach is to check with your vet before incorporating eggs into your dog’s diet. In the meantime, use these guidelines from Maria Baker, DVM, a veterinarian with Pet-How, as a starting point:
- Medium-size dogs and larger: 1 egg per day
- Small to medium-size dogs: 1/2 egg per day
- Toy-size dogs: 1/4 egg per day
What are the best ways to feed your dog eggs?
Generally speaking, dogs can eat eggs in just about any form, provided they’re cooked thoroughly and without ingredients known to be harmful to dogs (e.g., garlic, mushrooms and onions, to name a few). That being said, Dr. Baker prefers serving eggs to dogs as follows:
Boiled eggs get Dr. Baker’s vote for the “best way to serve eggs to your pup.” First, boiling is the easiest way to ensure an egg has been cooked thoroughly. Moreover, boiling “makes the egg easier for your pup to digest.” For small dogs, soft-boiled is better than hard, which can be more difficult to chew. Just be sure to remove the entire shell before giving a boiled egg to your dog.
Can dogs eat scrambled eggs? Why, yes, they can, according to Dr. Baker, who regards scrambled eggs as the next-safest option for dogs after boiled. Just make sure to cook your scrambled eggs thoroughly. And skip the milk, butter, salt and spices, all of which can irritate your dog’s tummy.
“Baked eggs are also a good choice, as they provide a crunchy texture that many dogs enjoy,” Dr. Baker says. To bake an egg for your dog, simply preheat your oven to 325 degrees, crack an egg into an oven-safe ramekin and leave it to bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Can dogs eat raw eggs?
Just like humans, dogs can eat eggs raw—but not without risking bacterial contamination. Raw eggs may harbor foodborne bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. In dogs, just as in humans, says Dr. Dench, “these bacteria can cause digestive upset and lead to illness.”
If you think your dog has consumed raw eggs, you’ll want to keep an eye out over the next several days for signs of intestinal distress such as diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Dr. Russell notes these may also be symptoms of an egg allergy or sensitivity. In addition, preliminary studies suggest that regular consumption of raw eggs may be associated with biotin deficiency in dogs; dogs with this deficiency may exhibit loss of appetite, along with hair loss and flaky skin. Accordingly, if your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, check in with your vet, who’s in the best position to pinpoint the cause and come up with helpful solutions.
Can dogs eat eggshells?
Although dogs can eat eggshells, your four-legged pal probably shouldn’t be doing so unsupervised. As Dr. Dench explains, eggshells are composed primarily of calcium carbonate, which can help meet your dog’s calcium needs. On the other hand, too much calcium can be harmful, so, you’ll want to be fully in charge of the quantity of eggshells that your dog ingests.
Plus, some dogs may have difficulty swallowing and/or digesting eggshells—unless they have first been pulverized into a fine powder. So, if you want your dog to consume eggshells, keep an eye on the situation to prevent potential problems. Next, find out what else your dog wishes you knew.
About the experts
- Kathryn Rosalie Dench, DVM, is a veterinary surgeon who trained at Cambridge University. She is also a writer and adviser for Gentle Dog Trainers.
- Ellen Russell, DVM, is a veterinarian with The Malamute Mom. She practices small animal medicine in Richmond, Virginia.
- Sabrina Kong, DVM, is a veterinarian with We Love Doodles. She works at a small veterinary clinic in northern California and is also a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner.
- Maria Baker, DVM, is a veterinarian at Pet-How and the site’s primary writer.