As well as being a much loved member of the family, your dog can also be a great way to get rid of food waste in an ecological way.
You might be wondering if, instead of just throwing your eggshells on the compost, can you repurpose them by feeding them to your dog?
In short, the answer is yes! You can definitely feed your dog eggshells from time to time.
In this article, we’ll take you through an in depth answer to whether or not dogs can eat eggshells, as well as other food waste your dog can happily chow down on.
Can Dogs Eat Eggshells?
As we’ve already established, dogs can indeed eat eggshells. In fact, if you think about it, wild dogs wouldn’t have the luxury of being able to remove an eggshell before tucking in. In this regard, domestic dogs are no different.
Eggshells are actually packed with nutrients that can be beneficial to your dog’s health. There are copious amounts of calcium and phosphorus in the shell which is great for many aspects of canine health, including teeth, bones, heart health and can even help boost the immune system. Phosphorus is also essential to efficient cellular repair, which is especially useful in elderly dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Eggs?
If you’re asking the question whether or not dogs can eat eggshells, then you’re probably also keen to know whether or not they can eat the actual egg too.
The answer to this is yes, but there are a few things you should be aware of before dishing up eggs for your canine.
Firstly, it is highly recommended that you cook the egg before feeding it to your dog. This is for two main reasons.
Firstly, raw egg white contains an enzyme called Avidin which can inhibit the absorption of Biotin (vitamin B7) during digestion. When cooked, the Avidin restructures and so is no longer able to interfere with digestion.
Secondly, raw eggs may contain salmonella bacteria. This can cause salmonella infection in your dog’s digestion tract. Cooking the egg will diminish the risk of salmonella poisoning. Buying organic and fresh eggs also helps keep the risk to a minimum.
If you decide to give your dog cooked eggs, make sure you don’t add oil, spices or seasoning as this can be toxic to dogs. Boiling the eggs is the easiest way to cook them in a safe way for your canine.
When it comes to feeding your dog eggshells, it’s recommended that you wash the shells first to ensure there’s no raw egg residue that could harm your dog. Even though the risk in a small amount of raw egg is very minimal, it’s still good to be on the safe side where possible. If you boiled the eggs before removing the shell then naturally this step won’t be necessary.
Health Benefits of Eggshells
As we’ve already mentioned, eggshells are packed with calcium and phosphorus, but let’s delve a little deeper into the nutritional components of eggshells.
Shell Membrane and Arthritis
There is a thin membrane on the inside of the eggshell which is a minefield of nutrients for your dog. The membrane contains glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin and collagen.
These nutrients combined make it ideal for dogs who suffer from arthritis. In a 2016 study titled Effectiveness of eggshell membrane in the treatment of suboptimal joint function in dogs, it was found that eggshell membrane can help reduce joint pain in dogs.
It’s not just bones that benefit from plenty of calcium, teeth also thrive when they get their required calcium.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, around 80% of dogs have periodontal disease by the time they reach 3 years of age. This can be painful for canines. Adequate calcium intake can help prevent this.
Eggshells are also packed with amino acids which are essential for all manner of bodily processes.
Dogs require a total of 10 amino acids to keep healthy. These are:
Chicken eggshells have 8 of these essential amino acids, meaning it meets 80% of amino acid requirements in dogs.
Arginine, which appears in a high dose in eggshells, can help lower blood pressure.
Leucine, which is also found in eggshells, can help slow down the rate of muscle wastage. It’s therefore especially good for elderly dogs.
Lysine, meanwhile, can help regulate blood sugar. If your dog has diabetes, the lysine in eggshells can be helpful in controlling the disease.
Eggshells also have both Vitamin E and magnesium. Both these vitamins contribute to a healthy immune system in dogs, making eggshells an immune boosting food source.
A 2017 study found that avian eggshells possess anti-inflammatory properties. In this study on chicken eggshell membranes, researchers found that eggshells can be a useful medicinal source for promoting healing in wounds.
Dogs That Can’t Eat Bone
Bone is the usual calcium food source of choice in dog owners, but if your dog has trouble with bones then eggshells can be a great alternative. This is because they contain many of the same nutrients.
Are There Any Risks To Feeding Your Dog Egg Shells?
Usually, as long as there is no raw egg on them, eggshells are a perfectly healthy calcium source for your dog. However, there are few risks worth bearing in mind before you start dishing up eggshells on the regular.
Eggshells are mainly made up of calcium carbonate, which can provide quite a heavy calcium injection. This is useful if your dog isn’t getting its daily calcium requirements, however, too much calcium can be too much of a good thing.
Calcium recommendations are not very flexible in dogs, and are especially strict in puppies. Giving your dog too much calcium, therefore, can cause dietary imbalances. This is especially true as the calcium quantity in eggshell exceeds the quantity of phosphorus. An imbalance calcium-phosphorus ratio in the diet can affect Vitamin D levels. According to a 2012 study on Calcium and Vitamin D Metabolism, this can result in skeletal metabolism issues.
In addition, the kidneys are in charge of filtering calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Very high levels of calcium can cause mineralization of the kidneys, which can contribute to kidney disease.
Therefore, if your dog already has a diet with plenty of calcium, you can skip giving them eggshells. However, from time to time it is unlikely to cause them any harm.
Chemically Bleached Shell
However, it is recommended that you buy organic, responsibly sourced eggs if you plan on feeding the shells to your pet canine. That’s because some commercial eggs have a chemically bleached eggshell. These chemicals can, first of all, remove all the beneficial nutrients from the shell, and secondly even be toxic and harmful when consumed.
Don’t Overdo It
The other thing to bear in mind is that eggshells should be given to your dog as a food supplement, and not as an individual food source. One spoonful of ground egg shell added daily to one of their regular meals will provide plenty of extra nutrients, but there’s no need to feed them more than this.
Can Puppies Eat Eggshells?
While puppies can eat ground up eggshell, there are other superior calcium sources better suited to feeding your puppy.
Puppies need lots of calcium, and while there is plenty of it in eggshells, it comes in the form of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is not as easily absorbed by pups during digestion, so is not the richest calcium source for them.
Fresh raw bone is therefore the calcium fix most recommended for puppies. If your pup doesn’t take well to bones, however, you can give them grass-fed bone meal instead.
How to Prepare Eggshells for Dogs
If you’re using eggs in a recipe or simply whipping up your own breakfast, then you’ll probably have a bunch of eggshells leftover.
First remember to rinse the shells if they’ve still got some raw egg on them. Then, if you decide you want to feed the shells to your dog, you’ll need to crush them up into small pieces first. This is because large pieces can potentially harm your dog’s oesophagus if he swallows them. While they don’t have to be ground into a fine powder, smaller pieces are generally better. In fact if you can get into a powder then it will be much easier to mix up with your dog’s regular food.
You can just crush up the shell pieces using your hands, but you might find it easier to use a blender or a food processor. Once you’ve got the powder, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for two weeks. That way you can feed your dog a tablespoon or so a day.
Adding eggshells to your dog’s diet is a great way to give them a calcium and phosphorus supplement.
What If My Dog Ate Dropped Egg Shell?
If some egg shell or a whole egg fell to the floor and your dog ate it, there’s no need to panic. It will probably not cause him any harm, unless a particularly sharp piece cuts the oesophagus. If your dog seems completely fine after eating it, then this outcome is unlikely.
However, if your dog ate an unground shell, then he or she probably won’t get any of the nutrients from the shell as it’s difficult to digest when it’s in big pieces. In fact, it will probably pass through the digestive system and be visible in your dog’s excrement.
What Other Leftover Food Items Can My Dog Eat?
Dogs can also eat chicken giblets, i.e. the liver, heart and gizzard of the bird. If you happen to be preparing your own chicken, then you might just have these leftovers hanging around. Serving these chicken bits raw will provide your dog with some extra vitamins. However, they do come with a large helping of fat, so it isn’t recommended if your dog is overweight.
Surprisingly, dogs also enjoy baby carrots and celery. So if you happen to have those leftovers from a roast dinner, then your dog will happily finish them off.
Make sure any leftovers you give your dog are free or oils, sprays, spices and seasoning however, as can all be harmful to dogs.
The Bottom Line
Your dog can definitely eat egg shells, just so long as they’re fresh, unbleached, and ground down into a powder. It’s best not to exceed more than one spoonful of shell powder each day too, as it is possible to get too much of a good thing! If your dog got to a fallen egg shell before you had a chance to pick it up, he or she will probably be fine and at worst experience a little digestive irritation. However, remember to always consult with a veterinarian if you’re worried about something your dog ate.
Related: Can Dogs Eat Egg Whites?