Is your dog begging at your side when you sit down to a breakfast of sunny side up or scrambled eggs? The good news is that slipping her a bit of egg under the table isn't dangerous and can even be good for dogs. Egg yolks, whites, and even shells are nutritional powerhouses that can be consumed by dogs for an extra dietary boost.
Eggs yolks are packed with protein. Each standard large egg has 2.7 grams of protein, along with 4.5 grams of fat, and 184 milligrams of cholesterol (which won't lead to high cholesterol concerns in dogs), with minute amounts of carbohydrate.
Egg yolk for dogs also provides essential minerals. Each yolk has 22 milligrams of calcium, 0.46 milligrams of iron, 1 milligram of magnesium, 66 milligrams of phosphorus, 19 milligrams of potassium, 8 milligrams of sodium, and 0.39 milligrams of zinc. Yolks also contain a multitude of vitamins, including A, B-6, B-9, B-12, D, E, and K. Vitamin D in eggs works in concert with calcium and protein to help strengthen and maintain strong bones in dogs.
Egg yolks also contain some of the highest concentrations of the nutrient choline found in food. This nutrient helps support healthy development of the brains of puppies in pregnant dogs. Veterinarians sometimes prescribe choline supplements to treat cognitive disorders in dogs as well as epilepsy. Yolks also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help in preventing cataracts and in boosting overall eye health in older dogs.
Egg whites also contain protein and many of these same nutrients. Even eggshells for dogs, which can be served over his food if finely ground up, offer calcium and phosphorous.
Biotin deficiency in dogs
Biotin is a vitamin attributed to helping keep skin and fur healthy, and biotin deficiency in dogs can lead to fur loss, particularly on a dog's face. It's also important for fat metabolism and cell growth. Egg yolks are chock full of biotin, which is also called vitamin H or B7.
While egg yolks contain lots of healthy biotin, the protein avidin, found in raw eggs whites, can bind to it, hampering biotin absorption in a dog's digestive system. Luckily, most commercial pet foods contain the vitamin, so biotin deficiency in dogs is unusual.
While it might be tempting to throw a spare egg yolk into your dog's dish after separating egg whites for your own recipe, it can be dangerous to feed him raw eggs. As with humans, salmonella is a concern and it can wreak havoc on your dog's digestive system if the raw egg you feed him is contaminated with the bacteria. Make sure to cook both the white and yolk of the egg until they are firm to kill off any bacteria. It's also a good idea to rinse off eggs if you are planning on feeding your dog ground-up shells, as salmonella bacteria lurk on the outside of the eggs and can enter through a crack in the shell.
Another concern is that your pup might develop an egg allergy at any time, so it's important to be vigilant if you see him developing itching or other skin problems or digestive issues after consuming eggs.
Too much of a good thing?
Egg yolk from a large egg provides 55 calories, so depending on the size of your dog, a single yolk might provide a significant portion of her calories for the day. A whole egg contains 70 to 80 calories. Another consideration is how you cook the egg. Hard-boiled eggs don't contain any extra calories, but if you're frying them in butter or oil, the calorie count can shoot up.