If you’re in the kitchen whipping up a recipe which only requires egg yolks, you might find yourself wondering what to do with the leftover egg whites? Naturally, your first thought will be: can I feed them to my dog?
Whether or not dogs can eat egg whites is a much asked question in the dog-owner community. While it’s known that eggs are very nutritious, and egg whites are packed with protein, are they still toxic for dogs?
The answer is: it depends.
Egg whites, and eggs as a whole for that matter, are completely ok for dogs to eat — so long as they’re cooked, and your dog doesn’t consume them too often! Feeding your dog raw eggs, on the other hand, can carry some risks.
Read on to find out why cooked egg whites make a great addition to a dog’s diet, why you should avoid feeding them raw eggs, as well as answers to other common dog diet questions.
Can Dogs Eat Eggs?
Before getting into egg whites, let’s first discuss whether dogs can eat eggs, period.
As we’ve already established, dogs can absolutely eat eggs. So let’s go through the health benefits of the food product while we’re here.
Eggs contain fats, carbohydrates and proteins, which makes them great for all-round health in dogs. Eggs are, of course, made up of everything required to form a new organism (a chick), so it’s no surprise that they’re full of nutrients.
Giving your dogs eggs, therefore, can be a great way to give him/her more protein. Just one egg has 6g of protein and 1.6g fat. They also provide Vitamin A and linoleum acid, which can help boost your dog’s health.
The egg yolk also contains vitamins A, B-6, B-9, B-12, D, E, and K, and essential minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
Can Dogs Eat Egg Whites?
Naturally, if they can eat eggs, then they can eat egg whites. However, the nutritional value alters slightly once you remove the yolk. The egg white has slightly less protein than the whole egg including the yolk (only 4g), and has zero fat. Of course, this is a plus if your dog follows a lower fat diet.
Health Benefits of Eggs Whites in Dogs
Low Carbohydrate Option
In 2006, the National Academy of Sciences compiled a research anthology titled Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. In this anthology, it is revealed that if dogs eat too many carbohydrates, their bodies can become under stress and this can lead to disease. It is therefore recommended that dogs follow a low carb diet.
This means that egg whites are an ideal food supplement for dogs as they contain very little carbohydrate and a large quantity of protein. If you want to ensure your dog meets his protein requirements but doesn’t inadvertently consume too many carbs, eggs and egg whites are the perfect snack or meal addition.
High Protein Absorption Rate
When it comes to food absorption, scientists talk about “biological value”. Biological value refers to how much protein an organism can digest from a food source. The more it is able to digest, the higher the biological value.
Eggs and egg whites have a very high biological value — even higher than most meat and fish sources. This makes them a great source of protein for dogs.
Rich in Nutrients
Eggs contain a plethora of nutrients which are for promoting health in dogs. Below we’ll take you through some of the key ones, with explanations of why they’re essential.
A study, titled, Vitamin A-responsive dermatosis in the dog, found that Vitamin A can help heal wounds quicker and is essential to maintaining healthy skin.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
B2 deficiency in puppies can reduce their rate of growth and cause weakness. It is therefore an essential nutrient in a dog’s diet.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
According to Wikivet, an online veterinary encyclopedia, vitamin B5 is essential for respiration, and deficiencies in dogs can lead to gastritis and enteritis. Ensuring there are ample amounts of B5 in a dog’s diet is therefore extremely important.
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Folate is essential for cell maintenance, and is linked to a healthy metabolism in dogs.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 is chiefly needed for carbon transfer propionic acid metabolism. A deficiency in the vitamin may result in digestive issues and weight loss.
According to Dr Ken Tudor, potassium is essential for cardiovascular health in dogs and can help ensure longevity.
Health Risks of Egg Whites
While dogs can eat eggs and egg whites, there are a few concerns you should be aware of before you feed them to your dog. We’ll discuss what these are in the next section.
Risks of Raw Egg Whites
Egg whites have in them an enzyme inhibitor called Avidin. Avidin can actually interfere with digestion in dogs. In most cases, this is seen in puppies, young dogs, and very old dogs.
During the digestion process, Avidin can interfere with the absorption of biotin (vitamin B7). This can be a problem, because biotin is responsible for lots of metabolic processes, and is essential for hair, skin and nail health.
However, when the egg white is cooked, Avidin changes structure making it less able to inhibit biotin absorption. For this reason, among others, it’s recommended that you cook egg whites before feeding them to your dog.
However, even when cooked, it’s recommended that you start with small quantities of egg whites and see how your dog reacts.
Interestingly, the egg yolk actually contains a high concentration of biotin. This means that eating the egg as a whole counteracts the Advin’s biotin inhibition. But it’s still recommended that you serve the egg cooked, and we’ll explain why below.
Note that you should always consult with a veterinarian before introducing anything new into your dog’s diet.
Risk of Salmonella Poisoning
For humans and dogs alike, one of the biggest risks in consuming eggs is the risk of salmonella poisoning.
Salmonella is a bacteria sometimes found in raw eggs which can cause an infection in the intestinal tract of animals.
To limit the risk of salmonella infection, there are a number of things you can do:
- Always purchase your eggs from reliable sources.
- Buy organic and fresh eggs
- Throw away eggs with damaged or broken shells
- Cook eggs until egg white and yolk are solid and hot all the way through
Again, for this reason it is always recommended that you cook eggs before feeding them to your dog.
So, Should I Never Feed My Dog Raw Egg or Egg White?
The answer to whether or not you should never feed your dog raw egg is a debated one.
The chances of there being salmonella bacteria in an egg is very slim, and just the occasional raw egg white shouldn’t pose any risks with regards to biotin absorption. However, you do still run the risk of these things anytime you feed a dog raw egg.
The general consensus is that from time to time it is probably safe to feed your dog eggs whites, but you should be aware of the potential adverse effects. If you want to feed your dog eggs on a more frequent basis, then it is highly recommended that you cook the eggs first.
Cholesterol in Eggs
Eggs have a high cholesterol content, and this is a cause of alarm for many. In fact, a single egg yolk contains 187 mg of cholesterol.
In dogs, a diet high in cholesterol has been linked to bile acid formation and the inhibition of cholesterol synthesis. Overall, too much cholesterol is not healthy for dogs (or humans!).
However, you can still feed your dog egg yolks from time to time so long as the rest of their diet is not high in cholesterol. It’s also not recommended that you feed them egg yolks more than once a day. If your dog is on the smaller side, then it’s advisable that you feed them only half a yolk.
No Cholesterol in Egg White
Feeding your dog just the egg white, and not the yolk, can help avoid issues related to cholesterol. In fact, the egg white contains zero cholesterol and close to zero fat. It does, however, still contain a great deal of protein.
How Often Can I feed my Dog Eggs?
Because of the high quantity of fat and cholesterol in egg yolks, it is generally recommended that you don’t give your dog more than one egg a day. If you have a small dog or a puppy, then even less than one egg a day is recommended.
However, if you just wish to feed your dog egg whites, then you don’t need to worry about the fat and cholesterol since there is next to none. This means you can feed your dog egg whites more frequently and in higher quantities then egg-wholes.
Always check with your vet whether or not feeding your dog eggs is a good idea. Some dogs have certain digestive issues or genetic diseases which mean they should avoid eggs altogether.
How Should I Cook Eggs For My Dog?
If you wish to feed your dog eggs, then the easiest way to do it is by boiling them. This creates the least mess for you to clear up, and it means you don’t have to use any oils or sprays which can be harmful to dogs.
If you just want to feed them the egg white, then you can peel it off the yolk and feed it to them directly.
If you prefer to fry or poach eggs, that’s fine too, but just make sure you don’t add any oils, herbs or spices as these are not healthy for canines.
If you want to give your dog a calcium boost, you can also grind up the egg shells and mix them in.
Can I Give My Dog Other Foods With Eggs?
While you can absolutely serve your regular dog food along with your cooked egg, there are certain foods you shouldn’t give your dog with eggs (even if as a human you prefer it that way!)
Eggs and Cheese
The American Kennel Club says dogs can eat small amounts of cheese, provided your dog doesn’t have lactose intolerance. Make sure you cook the eggs first and add the cheese after (in small quantities).
Eggs and Potatoes
Potatoes contain iron and are generally safe for dogs to eat. Like with eggs, always cook potatoes thoroughly before giving them to your dog to eat.
Eggs and Bacon
The American Kennel Club says too much bacon can give dogs pancreatitis, which can potentially kill them. For this reason, it’s recommended that you don’t feed your dog bacon with egg. Besides, bacon is very fatty and salty, which isn’t good for your dog’s stomach.
The Bottom Line
Eggs, and particularly egg whites, can make a great addition to your dog’s diet, providing protein and an array of nutrients. However, it’s recommended that you cook the eggs before feeding them to your dog.
You should also be careful not to give them egg yolks too often, and certainly not more than one a day for adult canines — and even less for small dogs and puppies! However, egg whites can safely be given to dogs in larger quantities and on a more frequent basis.