We all know dogs can eat chicken eggs, but what about egg shells? Are egg shells good for dogs? Bad? Safe? Toxic? Are there health benefits to be gained? Can dogs eat egg shells?
We run a dog rescue here at JollyMutt – been doing that for over 20 years. We also have about 30 chickens so eggs find themselves into most meals in one fashion or another. When you get a dozen or more fresh eggs every day, you find a way to use ’em!
And, we’re stingy and resourceful, so nothing goes to waste. Such is life at the dog rescue / farm we live on.
We have found, and science (and the AKC) have confirmed that yes, dogs can eat egg shells.
I like to harken back to where dogs came from before they were domesticated. Their ancestors didn’t concern themselves with eating only the egg whites, or separating the yolk from the rest of the egg. And they certainly didn’t discard the eggshell. No, the wolf ate the entire thing – likely an entire nest of them and then moved on healthier and satiated.
What is an egg shell? Science stuff
And a video, for the egg-geek in all of us:
What exactly is a shell made of and why might it be good for your dog?
Egg shells are 95% calcium carbonate, and the other 5% is a mixture of hundreds of different proteins that fine-tune the protective, yet brittle nature of the eggshell so the chick can break out of it when the time is right. Eggshells are incredibly complex and a true wonder of nature.
Given this, there’s plenty of calcium in egg shells and eating the shells is a good, direct method of ingesting usable calcium.
What are the health benefits of egg shells for my dog?
The health benefits for dogs from eggshells come from a large amount of calcium and the comparatively small amount of phosphorus. The eggshell is about 95% calcium and less than 1% phosphorus. This combination is a powerful support mechanism to help ensure healthy teeth and bones as well as aiding the immune system, heart, and muscles.
For a dog that taking a calcium supplement, we recommend talking this over with your Vet to see if, perhaps, eggshells are a viable alternative or at least some level of assistance.
If you plan to feed your dog eggshells, make sure you are using the shells from naturally processed eggs rather than the bleached eggs usually found on store shelves. This process is still in widespread use and the bleaching process can rob some of the health benefits from the shell.
Fortunately, farm-fresh organic eggs are becoming more and more common in stores as well as around the neighborhood so if you are purchasing eggs, check to make sure how they are processed before landing on the shelf. Or, just walk next door to your friendly chicken farmer and let them know you are interested in taking their eggshells off their hands for them.
How to feed my dog eggshells
We don’t advocate tossing Fido a hard-boiled egg with the shell on and letting him figure it out for himself. Hard-boiled eggs are a choking hazard anyway. For the smaller dog, this is an important consideration.
No, we recommend collecting the eggshells and then crushing them up to as fine of a powder as you can manage. No fancy tools needed. I tend to put them in a sturdy zip-lock bag and just crush them with my hands. My wife uses our ice hammer. Whatever the process, a nice eggshell powder should be the result that allows for easy mixing into kibble or soft dog food.
Many people are feeding their dogs homemade dog food, or DIY dog food, these days and if you fall into that group, adding crushed eggshell to your dog’s diet isn’t a terrible idea.
Raw egg and shell for your dog?
We prefer to give our dogs more finely ground eggshells but in truth, there’s not much choking hazard to your dog eating larger portions of an eggshell. Cracking an entire egg and the shell into your dog’s normal bowl of kibble is a powerful addition to your dog’s diet and your dog will love you even more for it.
The egg is considered a complete meal for you as well as your dog – the health benefits of the lowly egg have been proven time and time again. The egg yolk, the egg white, and the egg shell combine to create a powerfully nutritious meal that provides a vast array of necessary vitamins and nutrients, and can even help with biotin deficiency.
The AKC says that eggs are great for dogs, and contain necessary fatty acids, vitamins, and protein to help keep your dog healthy.
Can I give my dog a hard-boiled egg with the shell?
We don’t recommend this approach as a hard-boiled egg is the perfect size object for a dog to choke on. The idea is not to feed them large chunks of egg shells but rather feed them as fine of a powder as you create.
Are there risks when feeding my dog eggshells?
The most common concern is salmonella poisoning and dogs are as susceptible as humans. Ensure your eggs are high quality and from a trusted source.
Dogs can be allergic to eggs so watch for the normal signs of allergic reaction to include itchiness, scratching, hives, lethargy, etc.
As eggs go bad, harmful bacteria grow within the egg and could cause your dog to become sick. Ensure that if you are feeding your dog eggs and eggshells, that they come from a trusted source and are fresh.
Other uses for egg shells
While we’re at it, here are a few non-dog uses for egg shells in case you still have some more left over.
Gardening – great to help protect your tomatoes from blossom end rot – just add a handful of ground eggshell when planting your tomato.
What about other types of eggs?
We commonly hear duck owners ask similar questions. The good news is that nature has seen fit to make eggs pretty much the same across different species. Not exactly the same, there are differences of course, but from a “can I feed my dog egg shells” perspective, a duck egg is pretty much the same as a chicken egg.
Can dogs eat egg shells? Conclusion
Absolutely they can and, in many cases, they should. Egg shells pose no problems for dogs to eat and can bring a good bit of necessary nutrients to their diet. Throw in the entire egg, raw or cooked, along with the shell for a complete powerhouse addition to your dog’s diet.
We often hear “can dogs eat [fill in the blank]” so we are working on a series of articles to discuss these topics. Please see our additional articles on our dog health page.
Also for a more information overview about what your dog should and should not eat, be sure to take a look at our “Can dogs eat…” article where we cover over 80 different foods for your dog.