Is it Safe to Feed Dogs Raw Eggs?
It seems whenever I bring up the subject of feeding raw eggs to dogs, I'm met with scorn and shock in return. Pet parents wonder if dogs will get Salmonella or E. coli. Then they wonder if they will get Salmonella or E. coli. Most people seem to believe the myth that raw eggs are dangerous and harmful to our beloved canines. I can’t say I blame them. The mass of information available is confusing. Some vets encourage it while others avidly warn against it—and so the raw food debate rages on.
Although I’m not a vet, I do feed my two dogs (60lb Shepherd mix and 60lb Rhodesian Ridgeback mix) organic raw eggs at least once a week. And they just love it.
The bottom line is that eggs are a complete food source for dogs. They're a complete source of amino acids, and they contain vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and fatty acids. The shell contains calcium and is good for their teeth and digestion. Remember that modern dogs are a decedent of grey wolves and wolves eat raw . . . well, everything. So your dog’s digestive system is fully equipped to handle raw foods too. In fact, the dry kibble of today is doing a disservice to your dog’s wolf-like digestive system.
Why the Fear?
Some websites say your dog should never eat raw eggs for two reasons; because of the possibility of Salmonella or E. coli and because of avidin, a biotin inhibitor.
The truth is that dogs rarely get Salmonella or E. coli.
- True, it does begin with the hen. This is why organic eggs from a trusted source are so important. But even so, even if your dog ate an infected egg the chances of him contracting E. coli or Salmonella is rare. Dogs have a very short digestive tract combined with a very acidic stomach. This means their short digestion tract does not give time for bacteria to build up – unlike with humans.
- Further, the acidic stomach is strong enough to kill all bacteria as well as break down whole raw bones. This is why dogs can eat wild animals and digest them with little problem.
- The greatest risk of exposure is to the human – so proper hygiene is a must. I give my dogs the whole egg, send them outside, and watch them carefully carry it in their mouth to their “special” place. With the care of a surgeon, they crack the egg and suck out all the insides, before munching down the shell.
Biotin is a B vitamin and avidin is a biotin inhibitor – both of which are in raw eggs.
- Avidin is in raw egg whites and is very important for cellular growth, fatty acid metabolism, and good skin and coat. Although pet owners are warned against avidin, it would take an extraordinary amount of raw eggs to create this deficiency. Besides, the egg yolk has plenty of biotin. This is why it’s important to serve the whole, raw egg. There's magic in the combination of avidin and biotin.
- Furthermore, assuming you feed your dog a well-balanced diet, your dog gets biotin in other forms. If you're concerned, supplement your dog’s diet with liver treats, which are a wonderful source of many vitamins. Check out my article on how to make frozen dog treats with liver for a cheap and easy recipe.
Bottom line: it’s perfectly safe to feed your dog several raw eggs a week, as long as it’s not a mainstay of his diet. If you notice stomach upset then feed less, as eggs are rich and high in protein. It may take some time to adjust. If you’re very concerned about potential risks you can always cook the egg. Although some health benefits are lost, there are still many vitamins and nutrients in a cooked egg, with none of the risk.
Can You Trust Your Egg?
My biggest fear when buying eggs, either for my dog or myself, is whether I can trust the farmer. I buy local, organic, farm-fresh eggs as often as I can, straight from the farmer. I do live in rural Northern California where I have a ton of access to farm fresh food. If you can purchase eggs straight from an organic farmer, I highly encourage you to try them. They're incredibly flavorful and often higher in nutrition than commercially grown eggs.
If I can't buy farm-direct, I'll go with a brand I trust.y. A quick online search will usually tell you if your organic source can be trusted. I look for hens that are 100% free range (meaning they can come and go whenever they please) and fed a 100% organic diet.
More Than Just Eggs!
Just like eggs, you may not know of these other foods that are good for Fido. Always feed something new in small amounts first, and if you notice stomach upset, cut back on the amount.
If raw eggs aren’t your style, scrambled, boiled, and fried eggs are great for your dogs too! Cooked eggs still contain riboflavin, selenium, and of course protein!
- Apples. In moderation, they make great treats and help clean teeth. Remember to avoid the seeds! Apple seeds actually contain a form of cyanide which can be fatal to dogs. Don’t worry, humans filter this low dose of cyanide out. So share your apple a day to keep both the doctor and the vet away.
- Carrots are low in calorie and high in fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamin A . They can be raw or cooked. My dogs take their big carrots in the backyard whole and nibble on them slowly. My only problem is now they'll dig them out of my garden and eat them whole! Greens and all. Perhaps they're part rabbit?
- Green beans, believe it or not, make excellent treats. They are filling and low in calories. Buy organic frozen ones and add them to your dog’s next meal. Use them as training treats. See, you were actually doing your dog a favor sneaking him veggies under the table as a kid!
- Peanut butter makes a great treat. It is a good source of protein, healthy fat, vitamin B, niacin, and vitamin E. Always choose raw, organic, unsalted, sugar-free peanut butter. I spread some onto their Kongs and watch them go crazy trying to get it out.
- Pumpkin is wonderful for dogs. The flesh can be raw or cooked and the seeds ground raw. The flesh settles the digestive tract and is good for both constipation and diarrhea – weird I know, but true. Plus, it’s loaded with fiber and beta-carotene. I would avoid the sugary canned pie stuff, but organic or sugar-free canned pumpkin would work. Ground, raw pumpkin seeds are a natural de-wormers for dogs too. Check out my article on raw pumpkin seeds: good for you and your dog to learn more. They are so easy to grow in your garden with a bit of space too. Roast the flesh and keep the seeds raw and your dog will thank you. A couple tablespoons for big dogs per day is plenty.
More Than Just My Best Friend
My dogs are truly my best buddies and I treat them as so. They are companions, security, comfort, and encouragement. Last year, I lost my 8 year old Golden Retriever, Tate, to cancer. The lymphoma took over and within a few months, his entire body was covered in lumps. It was absolutely devastating to watch this gentle soul, full of only love and optimism, die in such pain and misery. His life was cut too short. He deserved so much better. Was it my fault? Could I have prolonged his life had I made better food choices? I’ll never know and I’ll always wonder. But I have vowed to take the health of my family much more seriously, eating only organic non-GM foods. RIP Tate, love you always.