It's only natural to want to share foods you find appetizing with your canine companion. Egg yolks, which are the part of the egg designed to feed the chicken's embryo, are a delicious treat for both humans and dogs. While egg yolks are perfectly palatable, and even desirable, for dogs -- owners should recognize the nutritional value and potential complications involved with feeding yolks to dogs.
Egg yolks are an excellent source of protein, cholesterol and fat. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one large egg yolk has 55 calories, 2.7 grams of protein, 270 mg cholesterol and 4.51 grams of fat. The number of calories and the amount of protein and fat found in egg yolks is comparable to the nutritional content of commercially available dog treats. Protein and fat are essential to dogs – protein builds muscle and fat encourages energy. Additionally, egg yolks contain vitamins A, D, E and K, also known as the fat-soluble vitamins.
The fats found in egg yolks are beneficial to canine skin and fur. Cholesterol doesn't affect dogs the same way as it does people, and the cholesterol in egg yolks is beneficial to the dog's skin and coat, encouraging a shiny, lustrous appearance. The vitamins in egg yolks provide a nutritional boost for dogs. The vitamin A found in egg yolks benefits the eyes and keeps the body's mucous membranes moist. Vitamin D helps dogs absorb calcium, which in turn promotes bone health. Vitamin E found in egg yolks protects the body's tissues and encourages healthy red blood cell formation. Vitamin K is essential to the body's blood clotting mechanism. All of these vitamins are essential for canine well-being and must be derived from the dog's food.
Although egg yolks are a healthy source of nutrients for dogs, the fat content of the food can be problematic. When dogs are fed more fat than they are able to convert into energy, the excess gets converted into body fat, leading to obesity. Avoid feeding your dog multiple egg yolks per day for more than a few days at a time, unless the dog's energy output is adjusted to compensate for the increased nutritional intake. Dogs can be fed raw or cooked egg yolks as a supplement or treat in addition to their regular food. Raw eggs, however, pose a risk of salmonella. Although harmful to humans, salmonella poses little risk to dogs due in part to canine anatomy. Dogs have shorter intestines than humans and the bacteria doesn't typically have enough time to replicate to levels that could cause harm. Additionally, the stomach chemistry of canines is different than that of humans, rendering most salmonella pathogens harmless.
Egg allergies, though rare in dogs, do exist. If your dog exhibits signs of an allergic reaction -- including but not limited to -- itching on the nose and paws, lethargy, hives and trouble breathing, seek veterinary care immediately.
Some dogs develop an upset stomach when faced with changes in their diet. This is normal. If your dog exhibits loose, runny stool that lasts for more than a day or vomiting that persists for more than 24 hours, consult a vet.
If you or someone in your household is immune-compromised, avoid feeding your dog raw egg yolks due to the risk of salmonella poisoning. Do not feed egg yolks as a dog's primary source of nutrition. Egg yolks are not a nutritionally complete canine meal.