Can dogs eat egg shells as part of a normal healthy diet? Eggshells are safe for most dogs to eat in small amounts, but they are rich in calcium. So, too many in your dog’s diet can cause nutritional imbalances. Plus, broken pieces of eggshell can be sharp and scratch your dog’s throat, even when small. And, some dogs may be allergic to egg shells or the eggs within.
Generally, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian before introducing eggshells into your dogs diet. Most dogs won’t need the extra calcium. But, if your older dog has arthritis, or your veterinarian approves, eggshells and eggshell membranes can be a great, healthy part of their regular diet.
Can Dogs Eat Egg Shells?
In most cases, it’s perfectly safe for a dog to eat an egg shell. So, if your dog has managed to swipe an egg from the counter, or stole a broken shell from the side, don’t worry. It’s a good idea to watch them to be sure they aren’t allergic, or getting sick. Particularly if the eggshells were unwashed, or had traces of raw egg. But, in most cases there will be no issues.
Kibble-fed dogs won’t need eggshells as a part of their diet, since their kibble will contain a healthy balance of necessary nutrients. Adding eggshells to your dog’s kibble can result in an excess of calcium. This can be problematic in some growing dogs. But, eggshells are a common supplement in raw-fed dog diets. Like raw bones, eggshells can offer our dogs calcium to strengthen their own bones and teeth.
Are Eggshells Good for Dogs?
The main nutrient that dogs get from eggshells is calcium. Calcium is a necessary part of any dog’s diet, to aid their bones and teeth. Calcium supplements can also treat low blood calcium. So, for dogs who are deficient in this nutrient, eggshells can be a great addition to their diet.
On top of this, eggshell membranes have been proven to help dogs with joint problems like arthritis. A 2016 study found that daily eggshell membrane both reduced joint pain and improved joint function in the short term. The long term impact was an ongoing improvement in joint pain, which in turn improved the quality of life for the dogs in the study. So, if your dog is suffering from a joint-related health problem, eggshells and eggshell membranes could be a great addition to their regular diet. Just check with your veterinarian to be sure you’re giving the correct amount for your dog’s size and age.
Are Eggshells Bad for Dogs?
Like most foods, there are pros and cons. Calcium in eggshells can be great for some dogs, and can improve their overall health. But for other dogs this extra calcium is not necessary. If your dog is kibble fed, or raw fed but getting enough calcium, an excess of calcium from eggshells can lead to further health issues, including skeletal growth issues in younger dogs.
On top of this, eggshells have sharp edges when broken up. This can be painful for your dog to eat, particularly if those sharp edges scratch your dog’s throat, or a further part of their digestive system. Another common concern is the risks of salmonella in eggs. Let’s take a look at this in a little more detail.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Egg Shells?
The primary concern with raw eggs for most owners is salmonella bacteria. Salmonella infection is uncommon in dogs, but it is possible. And, your dog could potentially carry the bacteria and pass it on to you, causing sickness in your family. Signs of salmonella infection in dogs can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Lowered activity levels
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from salmonella as a result of something they have eaten, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet. It is uncommon in dogs, and these symptoms could be a sign of a number of other issues. Your veterinarian will help you determine the cause of these symptoms. If at all concerned about salmonella, you can speak to your vet about other ways to offer your dog calcium, like powder supplements.
Can Dogs Eat Eggshell Membrane?
The egg shell membrane is the layer between the shell itself and the egg white. There are actually two membranes here – the inner and outer membranes. They are strong, transparent layers that protect the inside of the egg from external bacteria.
As we have already seen, eggshell membrane can be really good for dogs suffering from joint-related health problems, such as arthritis. Daily egg shell membrane supplements can reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility, increasing a dog’s quality of life. If you think your dog could benefit from eating eggshell membrane, speak to your vet about the best way to introduce this into their diet.
Can Dogs Eat Eggs Whole?
Some dogs would happily crunch down on a whole egg – shell and all. But, others may leave the egg alone. As we know, some owners are concerned about the risk of salmonella bacteria in raw eggs. So, speak to your veterinarian about the risks of this before offering your dog an egg.
On top of this, a whole egg may be quite difficult for your dog to eat, whether cooked or not. As they crunch down, the egg shell will break into sharp pieces that will vary in size. If swallowed, these pieces could cut or scratch your dog, but could also present a choking hazard depending on the size they break down to. Generally, it’s a better idea to prepare the egg, rather than just giving one to your dog to play with or eat whole. This way, you can cook the egg inside, and break the shell into more manageable chunks.
Can Puppies Have Egg Shells?
Puppies are in a crucial stage of growth – so can they have eggshells and the calcium within? Well, the answer is a little more complicated here. In some growing dogs, excess calcium can cause skeletal problems. But, some studies have suggested this has less of an impact on larger breeds, and won’t impact some growing dogs at all. More research is needed in this area to determine why excess calcium affects some growing dog breeds more than others.
Generally, it’s a good idea not to offer your growing puppy eggshells unless otherwise approved by your veterinarian. If your puppy is eating a commercial puppy food, they will have no need for the extra calcium that egg shells provide. It may be necessary in raw fed puppies, but again, check with your veterinarian. They will be able to help you calculate the amount of calcium your puppy is already getting.
How to Prepare Egg Shells for Dogs
If your veterinarian has approved eggshells for your dog, you’ll now need to learn the best way to serve them up! This can be tricky, as many dogs don’t actually like the taste of eggshells. Especially compared to the egg within.
No matter how you serve them, make sure the eggshell is thoroughly washed before giving it to your dog. You can give your dog raw or cooked egg shells, but make sure that the shell is broken into very small pieces. It’s a good idea to mix eggshell in with the rest of your dog’s food. This can help to protect your dog from some of those sharp edges. You could even include the shell in other egg recipes, like dog-safe scrambled eggs.
If you’re concerned about the sharp edges of egg shells, you can also grind the shells into a powder, and then sprinkle this on top of your dog’s food.
Can Dogs Have Egg Shells? A Summary
So, like many foods, egg shells have pros and cons for our dogs! Not all dogs will need the added calcium in their diets. In fact, if they are already getting enough calcium, adding eggshells can lead to other health problems! But, some dogs can really benefit from eggshells and eggshell membranes. Just be sure to check with your vet before serving this new food.
What is your favorite way to give your dog eggshells? Does your dog love the taste, or has it helped your older dog’s joints? Let us know about your experiences in the comments!
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References and Resources
- Ruff, K. (et al), ‘Effectiveness of NEM Brand Eggshell Membrane in the Treatment of Suboptimal Joint Function in Dogs: A Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study’, Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports (2016)
- ‘Anatomy of an Egg’, Science of Cooking
- Dillitzer, N. (et al), ‘Intake of Minerals, Trace Elements and Vitamins in Bone and Raw Food Rations in Adult Dogs’, British Journal of Nutrition (2011)
- Schmidt, M. (et al), ‘The Fecal Microbiome and Metabolome Differs Between Dogs Fed Bones and Raw Food (BARF) Diets and Dogs Fed Commercial Diets’, Plos One (2018)
- Cline, J. ‘Calcium and Vitamin D Metabolism, Deficiency, and Excess’, Topics in Companion Animal Medicine (2012)
- Dobenecker, B. (et al), ‘Calcium-Excess Causes Subclinical Changes of Bone Growth in Beagles but Not in Foxhound-Crossbred Dogs, as Measured in X-Rays’, Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition (2006)
- Gollakner, R. ‘Calcium Supplements’, VCA
- ‘Salmonella in Dogs’, National Veterinary Institute
- Finley, R. (et al), ‘The Risk of Salmonellae Shedding by Dogs Fed Salmonella-Contaminated Commercial Raw Food Diets’, The Canadian Veterinary Journal (2007)
- Lowden, P. (et al), ‘Investigating the Prevalence of Salmonella in Dogs Within the Midlands Region of the United Kingdom’, BMC Veterinary Research (2015)
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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
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