Why are dogs gentle with eggs? My dogs love to play rough, together and by themselves! I wasn’t sure they even knew how to be gentle with their paws. So you can imagine my surprise when I gave them an egg, and it remained whole and unbroken in their mouth, even as they dropped it back off in my lap. Videos of other dogs caring for this fragile food are all over social media! But why is this such a common experience? In this guide, I’ll explain why our dogs can hold eggs without breaking them, if there’s a link between this behavior and their breed, and whether it’s safe to let your dog play with eggs.
- Why are dogs gentle with eggs?
- Which breeds are the most careful with fragile things?
- Are eggs good for dogs?
- Is this trend dangerous?
- How to prepare this food for your pup
Why Are Dogs Gentle With Eggs?
When your dog clamps their jaws on a toy, their teeth hold the toy in place tightly. But with an egg, they treat it gently. This is called “soft mouth”. When the dog uses their soft mouth, they place the object between their sharp teeth but without biting down hard on it. The teeth work as a lock but don’t tear through the eggshell or toy.
Lots of dogs were trained to use their soft mouths when they accompanied hunters. They learned to retrieve ducks and fowls for the hunter without biting through them. But dogs have been instinctively using their soft mouths for ages, even before they went out on hunting trips with their humans. Mama dogs use their soft mouths to carry their babies from one place to the next without hurting them.
Are All Dogs Gentle With Eggs?
Some dogs can feel how fragile an egg is, and will use their soft mouth to carry it around. They don’t need to be told to be careful with it. However, not all dogs will act the same. Some might mistake an egg for a ball or a new toy. Others will take it very gently, only to drop it immediately on the ground and let it crack! The way a dog treats an egg will differ from one individual to the next. The only way to learn how careful your own pup will be is to give the trend a try!
Which Dog Breeds are Gentle with Eggs?
If dogs act differently when we offer them an egg, could there be a link to their breed? Well, yes and no. Some working breeds might be less likely to crush an egg, instead using their soft mouth. This is usually the case for actively working dogs, who have been trained to retrieve things.
But, bear in mind that there are individual differences even among an entire dog breed. Even some working breeds might be surprisingly rough with eggs – especially if they recognise them as a food item and want to get to the tasty yolk inside!
What are the Benefits of Eggs for Dogs?
Eggs can offer some great nutritional benefits for our dogs. But, they should be a treat or a food supplement rather than the main meal for your dog, since they don’t contain every single nutrient your dog needs. A regular egg contains protein, folate, fatty acids, and iron. It also contains trace amounts of selenium and riboflavin. Both of these compounds help with the dog’s hair and coat.
As for vitamins, eggs have good amounts of vitamins A and B12. Vitamin A helps your dog fight off diseases and infections and improve their immune system. Meanwhile, vitamin B12 is a crucial factor in the dog’s metabolism. It helps your furry friend metabolize fatty acids and amino acids. Incidentally, eggs contain both of those important dietary acids as well.
Is it Dangerous to Give my Dog an Egg?
Eggs are safe for your dog as long as they’ve been cooked first, or if they’ve been laid by hens who are vaccinated against salmonella. If you can’t guarantee this, cook your egg before letting your dog hold or play with it. If they crack the shell, they’ll immediately gobble down the raw egg, shell and all. Here are some of the risks associated with eggs that you must be aware of when trying the egg challenge with your dog.
Salmonella is a serious illness caused by bacteria with the same name. It causes diarrhea, fever, dehydration, lethargy, and weight loss among other symptoms. In some countries, hens are vaccinated against salmonella, so raw eggs are less problematic. But, if this isn’t the case for your country, cook eggs before offering them to your dog.
Biotin is a compound that keeps the skin looking healthy. The whites of the raw egg contain avidin, an enzyme that inhibits absorbing biotin. If your dog consumes too many raw eggs, they might get biotin deficiency.
All parts of an egg are edible. In fact, the shells contain nutrients like calcium, which our dogs need. But, the shells can also present a choking hazard, since they’re harder than the insides. Plus, the shells can be sharp when they break, potentially scratching your dog internally when he or she eats them.
This is why plenty of owners will grind up eggshells to put on their dog’s food. This reduces the risk of scratches or choking, but still offers your dog the benefits of this part. However, it’s worth noting that some dogs won’t want to eat the shell anyway, since it’s not as tasty as the yolk and egg white!
You should also be aware that a whole egg can be a choking hazard for our dogs, whether cooked or raw. So, you should never leave your dog unattended if you’re trying out this trend.
How to Prepare Eggs for Your Dog
Like humans, dogs prefer their eggs in different styles. But don’t go overboard with flavors and spices. Dogs will find eggs tasty enough without these added extras. Keep things simple!
Your pooch will enjoy boiled eggs as much as bedeviled or scrambled eggs. But adding butter or oil to the eggs when preparing them can make the egg treat messy, not to mention that they lead to weight gain. I recommend that you stick to boiling the eggs and offering them to your dog at room temperature. Don’t sprinkle salt on the boiled eggs. This can increase water retention in their body.
When offering eggs as a treat for your dog, don’t give them other treats for the rest of the day. One large boiled egg has 78 calories on its own. So factor that in your dog’s daily calorie intake. And, chop it into smaller pieces. It can be served alone, or even sprinkled over their regular food!
Why Are Dogs Gentle With Eggs? A Summary
Some dog breeds use a soft mouth which allows them to handle eggs gently without breaking them. Dogs enjoy eggs as long as they’re cooked and don’t contain salt, butter or oil, or any other additives. Cut down the boiled egg into bite-size chunks and serve it to your dog at room temperature.
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- Mabee, D. & Fay Morgan, A. ‘Evaluation by Dog Growth of Egg Yolk Protein and Six Other Partially Purified Proteins, Some After Heat Treatment: Four Figures’, The Journal of Nutrition (1951)
- Andrade, T. (et al), ‘Spray-Dried Egg in the Diet of Dogs: Implications for Recovery Nutritional, Palatability and Haematology’, Universidade Estadual de Londrina (2018)
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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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They’re gentle because the surface is hard like a rock, they don’t know it isn’t completely solid, and they don’t want to damage their teeth.