At six weeks of age, it was obvious to the eye that our puppies, Arbre and Fleur, were suffering from some nutrient deficiencies – the one that scared us most as such a young age, and having been weaned very early, was calcium. We looked into how we could naturally supplement their diet at this age to ensure they had enough calcium to support their rapid growth and the solution suggested by our vet was to feed them egg shells or egg shell powder.
Can dogs eat egg shell? Yes, dogs can eat egg shell and it provides an excellent source of calcium and protein, both essential for strong bones and healthy teeth. Ground or whole, egg shell provides many natural health benefits to dogs and is a staple part of a raw diet but is also important for non-raw fed animals.
We feed our dogs egg shell in a variety of ways – there are a number of methods you can use, depending on your dog. We’ll talk you through some of the things to consider when feeding egg shell to dogs and how to do it safely.
The Benefits of Feeding Egg Shell to Dogs
Looking back to canine evolution – and perhaps your own dog has turned poacher from time to time – dogs have stolen eggs from nests to eat and so you will not be surprised to discover that your dog probably loves eggs! Here, we are talking specifically about the shell and unlike humans, these scavengers did not ‘peel’ their eggs before devouring them!
When we are talking about egg shell, we are including the membrane attached to the shell itself, and both have different but valuable benefits. The brittle shell is made of calcium carbonate – an essential mineral, not just necessary for strong development of bones and teeth, it also plays a critical role in your dog’s vision and blood clotting processes. The membrane however is predominantly protein with two major components you might be familiar with – collagen and glucosamine. Glucosamine will be known to anyone who’s ever suffered from joint pain and amongst other things, collagen is used in the beauty industry to promote and maintain elasticity of the skin.
The combination of all these elements can provide your dog with a valuable natural supplement.
Despite understanding the many health benefits, you may be concerned about the risks and safety of feeding your dog egg shell. Here we can dispel some of those natural concerns.
Do Egg Shells Have Salmonella?
If you get your eggs from a reputable supplier, it is highly unlikely. In the US and throughout Europe, commercially available eggs are now regarded as an extremely low risk source of salmonella however, the shells are sometimes more likely to host the bacteria as this acts as a barrier – the protection the egg has from nasties.
To further reduce any tiny risk of your dog contracting a salmonella infection, we suggest boiling and baking the shells before use.
We would like to caveat this by saying that we feed our dogs whole raw eggs and consider the benefits to out-way any risks to their general health.
Grinding Egg Shells to a Powder
Why would you make an egg shell powder? Many dog owners who feed their pups egg shell will grind the shell down to a fine powder – the arguments for this relating to ease of absorption are valid but the more common reasons are:
- It is easier for the dog to consume
- You can make sure you are giving the right amount – too much calcium carbonate in your dog’s diet can have adverse side-affects*
Sprinkling a fine dust on your dog’s food will go largely unnoticed and mixed into a raw mince for example, it will be undetectable by even the most accomplished scent hound! The correct dose of calcium carbonate is based on weight and age.
How much is one teaspoon of egg shell?
Generally speaking, you will get 5g of shell powder from one chicken egg.
*Risks of Too Much Calcium Carbonate to Your Dog
It’s important to make sure you don’t over do it when it comes to feeding your dog egg shell as it can lead to the depletion of other vital minerals in their body including as iron, magnesium and zinc – all important for their health.
The other main issue with over supplementation is the increased risk of hip dysplasia. This is a genetic condition that can lead to lameness and arthritis. It is where the dog develops an abnormal formation in the hip joint and is mostly associated with large and giant breeds. It is thought to be exacerbated by too much calcium carbonate in the diet so it is particularly important for owners of these dogs to carefully monitor their dog’s consumption.
Puppies and older dogs also require less calcium carbonate and any dog on a complete kibble diet must be aware that not only is it used as a dietary supplement in these formula, it also serves as a preservative and a method of retaining the colourings used in making the product more appealing.
Make Your Own Egg Shell Powder – A Natural Source of Calcium Carbonate
Follow these simple steps:
- Boil your eggs as you normally would to eat (we must have runny yokes in our house!)
- Peel the shell away with the nutritious protein membrane
- Put them in an oven at a low temperature for 5 minutes
- Use a coffee grinder or spice grinder like this to produce a fine powder
- You can store fully dried egg shell powder for up to two months – but make sure you have an air tight container – no need to refrigerate
What about the stamp?
The red stamp you see on commercially produced eggs in your supermarket is part of the salmonella prevention programme and is a legal requirement in many counties. It shows coded information about the source, production dates, and batches. In the US and across Europe, this ink is consumable, as if it were a die in a foodstuff. For this reason it is perfectly safe for your dog to consume.
Will free range organic egg shells be better for my dog?
From a nutritional stand point it is not considered that free range organic egg shells offer any significant additional nutritional benefit to dogs over non-organic eggs. However, shells tested from organic farms have been seen to have lower levels of poisonous heavy metals and chemicals so it can be argued that as long as organic free range eggs have been subject to the same screening as their non-organic counterparts, they are better for your dog.
Egg shell is a fantastic addition to your dog’s diet and whilst you can buy a packaged supplement, you can share your own discarded egg shells with your dog and their health will benefit. The added bonus of this is that you reduce your green waste as egg shells do not decompose as fast as you would imagine and are becoming an increasing issue in landfill.
Do I have to grind the egg shell for my dog? No – some dogs do however make a fuss about eating egg shell, even when broken quite small so will prefer to have it ground in their food. Some people argue that the shell poses a threat to the soft mouth tissue and oesophagus of a dog but this has little credibility when it is considered that dogs eat raw bones with only raw instances of injury.
Can dogs eat raw eggs? Yes – Dogs can eat raw eggs and they are a fantastic supplement to any canine diet but are commonly seen in a raw dog’s menu.