Can I Give My Dog Eggs?
When we think of the foods that are most efficient in keeping us fueled throughout the day, one of the first things to come in mind is a breakfast favorite: eggs. Throughout most of the 20th century, eggs were considered a key part of a healthy, nutritious breakfast. Even today, after many calorically dense animal products have dropped in popularity, eggs remain a breakfast staple among athletes and Sunday brunchers. They have also long been considered a healthy option for growing or physically active dogs.
But what’s the science behind giving eggs to dogs? Is this food really all that beneficial? Is it even safe? Can dogs have eggs?
The answer is yes, dogs can eat eggs in moderation. It is true that eating too many eggs can harm humans due to the high cholesterol content, but, because dogs are true omnivores (and because they do not live as long as we do), they typically do not need to worry as much about cholesterol as we do. As long as your dog is at a healthy weight and does not have existing cardiovascular problems, there should not be any problem with giving them the occasional egg with their breakfast. This is an especially good option for physically active dogs.
So, what are the health benefits of eggs for your canine companion? The big one is protein. Unlike plant sources, which are sometimes lacking in certain amino acids, eggs are loaded with complete proteins that will help keep your athletic dog energized and healthy. For dogs, protein is one of the most important macronutrients.
While carbohydrates are burned for fast fuel, protein provides the raw materials that actually make up every structure in your dog’s body. Most of their body, from their heart, to the powerful muscles in their legs and jaws, all the way to their thick, shiny fur coat, is built out of the amino acids that make up the proteins they eat. If your dog does not consume adequate protein, they may become lethargic or weak. Dogs who do not eat enough protein may also suffer from slow wound healing and a dull or thinning fur coat. Fortunately, severe protein deficiency is relatively rare in canines, so any shortage is usually pretty easily fixed with a slight boost in protein intake.
Eggs are also high in the all-important Vitamin D, which plays a key role in building strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D does more than protect against brittle bones, however—this powerful vitamin is thought to protect against cardiovascular disease and heart failure. In humans, the amount of Vitamin D present in the blood is actually one of the strongest predictive factors for whether or not someone with congestive heart failure will survive. A study performed on dogs yielded similar results: the dogs with congestive heart failure were more likely to have low levels of Vitamin D.
In order to function properly, muscles and nerves require certain amounts of calcium. Vitamin D is thought to help regulate the levels of calcium in the body, which then improves function of the heart muscle. Unlike humans, dogs can’t create Vitamin D by sunbathing, so they have to get it from their diet. This means that eggs can be a very helpful dietary supplement.
It is important to note, however, that Vitamin D levels do not rely solely on diet. Physical fitness and body fat percentage also have a say in Vitamin D levels and heart function, so all-around health and fitness are important in determining your canine companion’s heart health.
Eggs also contain several vitamins and minerals that can keep your dog fit and healthy. Some of these nutrients include iron, zinc, Vitamin E, riboflavin, choline, and even iodine. The healthy fats found in eggs can also keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy, minimizing their chances of developing itchy or dry skin.
Even aside from the high cholesterol levels, there are a few drawbacks to eggs. The first is the risk of food poisoning—just like humans, dogs are susceptible to poisoning as a result of salmonella in raw or undercooked eggs. If your dog eats eggs and has any lasting symptoms of food poisoning, take them to see a veterinarian immediately.
Things to Consider
Feeding dogs raw eggs can also increase their risk of becoming deficient in biotin. This is because of a certain enzyme present in raw egg whites. To be on the safe side, most veterinarians recommend feeding dogs eggs only after they have been cooked thoroughly.
In conclusion, eggs are a safe supplement to give to your dogs on occasion. Though they are high in cholesterol, they also contain a lot of beneficial protein, Vitamin D, choline, and other nutrients that can support healthy skin, muscles, and nerves in the long term. To avoid biotin deficiency or food poisoning, cook eggs thoroughly before serving.