Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and eggs are a cheap, nutritious staple to help you get going in the morning. But when Fido starts gazing longingly at your omelet or scrambled eggs, is it safe to let your four-egged friend chow down along with you?
The short answer is yes. Whether they're boiled or cooked, eggs can make fantastic treats or dietary supplements for your dog...as long as you’re not offering eggs that are seasoned with additives like salt or contained in an omelet that includes onions or other potentially harmful ingredients.
Benefits of Eggs for Dogs
Eggs are packed with protein and rich in many essential amino and fatty acids, vitamins including A and B12, as well as folate, iron, selenium, and riboflavin...which can all provide an array of health benefits for canines, ranging from improved skin and coat health to stronger teeth and bones. As such, eggs are a common ingredient in many homemade pet diets and are considered safe and nutritious for most dogs.
However, while eggs can safely be incorporated into your dog’s diet, they should never become their primary source of nutrition. The general consensus is that eggs can be offered in moderation a few times a week when used as a supplement to a high-quality commercial food or meat-based diet.
How to Feed Your Dog Eggs
While eggs are a safe “human food” for Rover, you’ll always want to be sure to check in with your veterinarian before offering eggs to your pet, particularly because overfeeding eggs can cause health issues ranging from obesity to diseases like Salmonella. While they're chock full of nutrition, eggs also happen to be high in fat, so pet owners of overweight dogs should always exercise moderation when offering these protein powerhouses. You’ll also want to be sure that the eggs are cooked or boiled plain, without the use of additives like oil, butter, pepper, or salt that can be potentially harmful for your dog—plus, your pooch has a simple palate and is likely to devour every last bite of the eggs in his or her bowl without any seasonings, anyway. (Although a sprinkle of cheese on some scrambled eggs would be fine as a special treat).
Believe it or not, not only can eggs be a healthy (and scrumptious) snack for your dog, but they may even help settle tummy troubles, much like chicken and rice can when kibble is too hard on their stomach. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on how many eggs your individual pet is likely to be able to tolerate.
While some amount of bacteria from raw food can be beneficial for your pet, properly storing your eggs will help ensure that any harmful bacteria is kept at a safe level. You’ll also want to shop for organic, free-range eggs whenever possible.
Dangers of Eggs for Dogs
Historically, canines were known to snatch birds’ nests and gobble up the eggs completely raw—including the crunchy shell—but that is, of course, not recommended for today's domesticated pets. Consuming raw or undercooked eggs comes with inherent risks for your pooch, just as it does for people—and while these side effects may be relatively rare, veterinarians recommend cooking eggs before feeding them to your dog.
For starters, both pets and their humans are at risk of contracting diseases like Salmonella from raw eggs. A foodborne illness that both animals and humans can contract from raw eggs and meat or contaminated dairy products or produce, Salmonella may present itself in your pet with symptoms such as vomiting, fever, diarrhea (which could be bloody), loss of appetite or decreased activity level. Pets with cancer, infections, or other serious health problems should particularly avoid raw eggs since their immune system may not be equipped to handle the risk of potential contamination.
Caused by prolonged feeding of raw egg whites, another lesser-known danger of feeding eggs to your pet is biotin deficiency, which is caused by an enzyme in egg whites that prevents biotin’s absorption into the body. Biotin is a B complex vitamin that promotes healthy skin, metabolism, digestion, and cells in both dogs and humans. Since egg whites contain these enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion—particularly in puppies and senior dogs—eggs should always be offered to your dog in moderation. While it would likely take an excessive amount of eggs to cause a biotin deficiency in your dog, veterinarians still warn against going overboard.
And, as always, keep an eye on your pet for any signs of stomach distress to ensure that your individual dog can tolerate snacking on those scrambled or hard-boiled eggs without any issues.