There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around the dangers of feeding dogs raw eggs. When talking pet nutrition I think it's always helpful to look at what our pets' feline and canine cousins do in the wild.
Dingos are just one of the species known to eat raw eggs (emu eggs in this case) in the Outback which to me suggests it's a perfectly natural feeding behaviour.
Nevertheless, many pet owners think raw eggs pose threats to their pets' health ranging from high cholesterol levels to the risk of bacterial infections such as salmonella.
Dingos at Taronga Zoo Sydney - Image courtesy of Brian Giesen commons.wikimedia.org
The 'dangers' of feeding eggs
In reality the only possible (minimal) risk to dogs from eating raw eggs is that in large quantities a compound called avidin which is found in raw egg white can create a biotin (vitamin B7) deficiency in dogs, the symptoms of which include inhibited cell growth, inhibited fatty acid metabolism and loss of skin and coat condition.
This so called 'danger' leads many people to write off eggs as bad for dogs, but the truth is you'd need to be feeding about eight to 10 eggs per day to create what is an extremely rare condition.
It's also worth noting that egg yolks actually contain high levels of biotin so, providing you feed whole raw eggs, the yolk should counterbalance the effect of the avidin in the egg white.
In terms of the risk of bacterial infection from feeding raw eggs, provided you source organic eggs from healthy free range hens, and store them in a cool, dry, place, as you would eggs for human consumption, there is minimal risk of infection from bacterium such a salmonella.
So, can dogs eat raw eggs?
Served raw, eggs are one of nature's most perfect proteins and an inexpensive and safe food source. They're highly digestible with a full range of essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein - Vitamins, and minerals including Vitamin A, Riboflavin (Vitamin B), Folate, Vitamin B12, Iron, Selenium and Fatty Acids, making them a nutritious food for dogs.
When feeding your dogs eggs, don't discard the eggshells. Ground up they are a great source of calcium which makes them a good substitute for animals who aren't keen to eat raw bones.
How much egg to feed
While I wouldn't recommend eggs as the lone protein in your dog's diet, as a general rule a couple of raw eggs each day along with a balanced meat diet will provide them with awesome nutrition.
It's also perfectly safe to feed cooked eggs, but, if you want to deliver maximum nutritional benefit, raw eggs are preferable as cooking destroys vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
I'd also advise sticking to eggs from organic free range chooks, (their eggs won't have been sprayed with chemicals to enhance shell shininess), to ensure the nutritional integrity.
Of course, if you notice your pet having any digestive issues when you introduce raw eggs to their diet, stop feeding the eggs and consult your vet.
Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons) is a qualified veterinarian and the founder of Vets All Natural. He has developed this range of foods and supplements purely from his desire to heal more, and a wider range of animals than those seen in his clinic everyday.