There’s a lot of controversy in regard to feeding raw eggs to our pets with claims that eggs are high in cholesterol, pose a risk of salmonella and that they cause a biotin deficiency, but are these claims true or are they myths?
Cholesterol – High blood cholesterol levels in people are a well-recognized risk factor for heart attack or stroke. Many end up on low-fat diets or take medication to minimize that risk.
Fortunately, it is rare for dogs to suffer from arteriosclerosis, an accumulation of cholesterol inside the arteries that causes the narrowing and obstruction responsible for heart attack or stroke. High levels of triglycerides, another form of fat, are more apt to cause problems for dogs than cholesterol.
Dogs can have increased fat in their blood, which is called hyperlipidemia, in the form of both triglycerides and cholesterol.
When detected on a screening blood test, the most common cause is a recent meal.
If the levels seem especially high, your vet may recommend repeating the sample after at least 12 hours of fasting.
If the values remain abnormal, further work-up by your vet is needed
Most hyperlipidemia in dogs is secondary to other diseases and testing to find these is important. The most common causes are:
• Hypothyroidism, meaning low thyroid production
• Hyperadrenocorticism, an overactive adrenal gland
• Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas
Occasionally dogs may have gall bladder or kidney problems.
If untreated, these disorders can make your pet quite ill. Sometimes hyperlipidemia is the first symptom that leads to early detection of these diseases.
Bottom line on high cholesterol in dogs
High cholesterol in dogs is rarely the danger sign like it can be in us.
However, especially if accompanied by elevated triglycerides, it can cause illness or be an early symptom of other disorders.
If your pet’s fasting cholesterol levels are high, please discuss further testing with your vet.
Early detection of other disease leads to the most effective treatment.
Source: Dr. Jody Clarke is a veterinarian with Pender Veterinary Centre in Fairfax, Virginia. She is a regular contributor to the Experts Contributor Program.
Bacteria – Yes, it is true that eggs like any other food source (even kibble) contain bacteria such as salmonella, but a raw fed pet is well equipped to deal with a certain number of bacteria from food and environment due to their stomach PH being lower (PH 1-2) compared to that of a kibble fed dog (PH 3-5)
Salmonella is the main concern for most people when it comes to feeding eggs and as such the health of the hen is also important.In the UK, salmonella isn’t a widespread concern because British farmers have been vaccinating their hens against salmonella since the 1990s.
While the “drop in salmonella infections in Britain was huge,” according to the New York Times, the FDA has not yet made vaccinating mandatory in the U.S.
Vaccinating isn’t required by law in the UK but needed if farmers want the red stamp of approval showing their hens have been vaccinated.
Proper storage is also important
Due to the different washing philosophies (which I’ll explain more further down), the U.S. and UK have different storage procedures.
In the U.S people are told to keep eggs in temperatures lower than 4C (39.2f) because it decreases the risk of salmonella from spreading.
And when sold in supermarkets they are often stored in the chiller isles, as where in the UK eggs are often found in the baking isles away from chillers.
The different methods come from the different washing methods, but more specifically, the potential for moisture on the egg.
In the UK, there is the worry that refrigerating eggs before consumers take them home will lead to a change of temperature drastic enough during transportation to cause moisture to collect.
If eggs sweat when moved from a cold fridge to a warm car, for example, unnecessary bacteria could form.
Biotin deficiency – The biotin deficiency scare is hard to shake, some people warn to not even feed whole eggs regularly as this can still lead to a biotin deficiency.
However, even veterinarians and nutritionists found that this isn’t the case.
Even though there is some truth in all this, in reality it only means that eggs should not be the main source of your pet’s diet.
Feeding egg whites only is what can cause a problem.
A diet of egg whites only can lead to a biotin deficiency which is needed for proper cellular growth, processing fatty acids, and promoting skin and coat health.
This is why feeding the whole egg is advised.
Egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors which is one of the reasons why some people say it is not safe to feed eggs.
These inhibitors can interfere with digestion especially in the very young, old and or ill pets but 1 or 2 whole raw eggs a week is perfectly fine and beneficial as part of your pet’s diet, it’s all about moderation and balance
If you don’t see digestive upset when feeding eggs to your pet, then he/she should have no problems. If you’re still worried you could cook the egg whites, but this means you’ll be taking away some of the nutritional benefits.
Shells – The other controversy is whether or not we should feed eggs whole (with shell) or without.
Reasoning for this is because it is said that all eggs are treated with chemicals (washed/sprayed) and therefore not safe to feed to our pets but preferred to buy local organically farmed eggs instead of supermarket eggs as fresh eggs straight from the farm have not been through any processes.
Although this is true for eggs that hit the supermarket shelves in the USA the opposite is true for eggs sold in the UK and (some) other EU countries.
U.S., eggs must be washed in order to be sold commercially.
In the UK, however, Grade A eggs (the ones sold in supermarkets) must not be cleaned (in fact it is illegal).
This is why in the UK you might find eggs with a little bit of grit or even an occasional feather.
The idea behind the no-wash mandate is that it will encourage good cultivation on farms.
“It’s in the farmers’ best interests to produce the cleanest eggs possible, as no one is going to buy their eggs if they’re dirty.
The USDA however doesn’t see it that way.
They’re concerned with the potential of faecal matter making it from the farm onto the egg, which, being a porous object, could transfer micro-organisms inside the egg.
Eggs in the United States must be washed in water a minimum of 32.2C (90°F).
They have to be sprayed with a chemical sanitizer and dried to remove residual moisture that might enable bacteria to penetrate the egg shell.
If any moisture is left on the egg, the potential for bacteria is much higher.
The US cleaning methods must be followed closely in order for them to work.
With such a high risk of bacteria if cleaned improperly, the UK believes cleaning is more trouble than it’s worth, careless cleaning would be worse than no cleaning.
Then there’s a thin layer called the cuticle that naturally protects the egg, and the EU egg marketing regulations prohibit cleaning eggs in order to keep the cuticle intact.
The cuticle protects from contamination and should be left on, they say.
So, in theory even though people prefer to purchase eggs directly from an organic farmer (or friend that has laying hens) if you live in the UK and you buy organic eggs from the supermarket, they would be fine to feed and no need to throw them in the bin 😊
All added up English eggs are so different from American eggs, that American eggs would actually be illegal in the UK (or EU) and vice versa.
Eggshell as suggested is the hard, outer layer of an egg.
It consists mostly of calcium carbonate, a common form of calcium, the rest is made up of protein and other minerals.
Calcium carbonate is the most common form of calcium in nature.
It is also the cheapest and most widely available form of calcium in supplements.
In the past decades, eggshell powder processed from eggs has been used as a natural calcium supplement.
Eggshells are roughly 40% calcium, with each gram providing 381–401 mg
Some research suggests that the calcium in eggshell powder may be better absorbed than pure calcium carbonate, making it an effective calcium supplement.
Eggshell powder can improve bone strength in pets with osteoporosis, and easily made at home.
One study indicates that it may be more effective than purified calcium carbonate supplements.
Egg shells are a great substitute for pets who cannot eat bone, this may be due to health problems like CKF/CKD or even dental problems.
When a dog or cat presents itself with bladder/ kidney problems it is advised not to feed bone due to the high phosphorous levels they contain.
This is when a lot of pet owners start to panic as the main source of calcium in a raw diet are bones.
No fear as Egg shell powder can be the answer. Egg shells as you’ve read are high in calcium and easily absorbed by the body so it would be a good alternative.
The guide is 1/2tsp of egg shell powder per 1lb meat/organ = 10% bone for PMR.
Not only could eggshell powder be a good alternative it could also be a good add on to a raw diet.
General rule of thumb is that calcium vs phosphorous ratio should be a 1-1, feeding bones can easily mean that you exceed the 1-1 ratio of phosphorous as the protein we feed also contain phosphorous and unless you analyse every protein separately (which most of us dont) exceeding the ratio is easily done, for this reason some raw feeders prefer to add eggshell powder as well, or alternate feeding bone a few days and egg shell powder another few days (2-3 times a week)
The egg membrane is located between the eggshell and the egg white. It is easily visible when you peel a boiled egg.
While technically not part of the eggshell, eggshell membrane is usually attached to it.
When making eggshell powder at home, there is no need to remove the membrane.
Eggshell membrane mainly consists of protein in the form of collagen. It also contains small amounts of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine and other nutrients.
The trace amounts of these beneficial compounds in eggshell membrane are unlikely to have significant effects on health.
However, some studies show that regular intake of eggshell membrane supplements may benefit joints.
More studies are needed to confirm their potential effectiveness.
Eggs are a natural and most complete nutrient rich food source you can give your pet.
Eggs are a natural source of vitamins and play an important part due to their high-quality protein content.
In fact, eggs are considered to be one of the highest forms of protein.
Just as our bodies, our pets require a wide range of different nutrients to stay healthy, these nutrients ensure that they are able to carry out basic functions to keep alive and well.
A healthy diet can be achieved by consuming foods in their correct proportions and quantities which provide all the vital nutrients needed.
Vitamins and minerals are important for bodies to function healthily and to provide the nutrients for growth and repair, teeth, skin and organs.
Eggs are naturally rich in Riboflavin (vitB2), vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium and iodine. They also contain vitamin A and a number of other B vitamins including folate, biotin, pantothenic acid and choline, and other essential minerals and trace elements, including phosphorus.
In general, the health benefits of eggs outweigh the risks and feeding eggs whole goes a long way to counteract imbalances.
The calories in an egg will vary depending on the size.
On average a small egg will contain around 55 calories, medium-sized egg will contain around 65 calories, an average large egg around 80 calories.
Most of these calories come from the yolk, which is the particularly nutrient dense part of the egg and includes many essential vitamins and minerals.
Chicken Egg nutritional breakdown:
G = grams
Mg = milligrams
Mcg = micrograms
Explanation of vitamins and minerals
As you will have read from all the information provided, adding a whole raw egg or 2 a week to your pet’s diet is perfectly safe and with them being rich in nutrients beneficial for your pet.
Quail eggs are higher in cholesterol than chicken eggs, due to their higher yolk-to-white ratio.
Quail eggs are low in calories.
A serving (for humans of five eggs) only contains 71 calories and is roughly the same as one large chicken egg.
Each serving of quail eggs provides you with 6 grams of protein.
Quail eggs also contain 5 grams of fat, including 1.6 grams of saturated fat per serving.
Choline and Vitamin A Each serving of quail eggs offers 119 milligrams of choline and 244 international units of vitamin A.
Iron and Selenium Quail eggs are rich in selenium and offer even more iron than chicken eggs.
Iron helps to make adenosine triphosphate, a chemical that fuels cells, while selenium activates enzymes that the thyroid needs to function.
The body also relies on iron to aid in red blood cell function and needs selenium for muscle metabolism and to nourish blood vessels.
Each serving of quail eggs provides 1.6 milligrams of iron, a large chicken egg, in contrast, contains just 0.9 milligrams of iron.
Quail eggs are high in cholesterol, and each serving boosts the cholesterol intake by 380 milligrams.
Duck Eggs are an Alkaline producing food (Anti-cancer food)
Duck eggs are quite large compared to chicken eggs, which makes them easily distinguishable. Another difference is that the shell of a duck egg is a lot tougher than a normal chicken egg.
The large size of the duck egg gives it a larger yoke to white ratio compared to that of a chicken egg.
Nutrition of Duck Eggs Vs Chicken Eggs
6x more Vitamin D in duck eggs compared to chicken eggs
2x more Vitamin A in duck eggs compared to chicken eggs
2x more cholesterol in duck eggs compared to chicken eggs.
Duck contains about 75% more Vitamin E than in chicken eggs.
Duck eggs reportedly also have more Vitamin K2,
Duck eggs also are higher in calories for the same weight quantity, probably due to it’s slightly higher fat concentration.
Also, keep in mind that the eggs of free-range, pastured animals generally have higher levels of vitamins and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
The yolks are darker, yellower, indicating a higher nutrient density.
A 100 gm of duck egg will provide about 185 KCal of energy, compared to 149 KCal of energy provided by a chicken egg.
Both types of eggs, match each other in terms of carbohydrate content, while the protein content is slightly higher in the duck eggs compared to chicken eggs.
The mineral content of duck eggs is very similar.
Both contain selenium, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium and iron. The duck eggs contain slightly higher amounts of all these minerals.
Same is the case with vitamin content in both of them. The vitamin content is similar, but duck eggs have a higher amount of each one of them, which includes thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and retinol.
100 gm of duck eggs will have about 3.68 gm of saturated fat, compared to 3.1 gm in chicken eggs. The mono unsaturated fat content is about 50% more in duck eggs as against chicken eggs.
The amino acid content profile is also similar for both eggs, but again duck eggs contain more of them.
The amino acids included are threonine, isoleucine, trytophan, leucine, methionine, lysine, cystine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, valine, serine, glycine, proline, aspartic acid, histidine, alanine, and arginine. The only minus point that duck eggs have is the considerably higher cholesterol content, compared to chicken eggs. 100 gm of duck eggs will contain 884 mg of cholesterol, compared to 425 mg in chicken eggs.
Goose eggs are about three times larger than chicken eggs and the shell is harder.
The goose egg’s yolk is firmer than a chicken egg yolk, and has a higher yolk-to-white ratio than a chicken egg.
Goose eggs also have more beneficial nutrients and vitamins.
Specifically, a goose egg has more of vitamins A, D, and E than a chicken egg as well as more B vitamins (panothenic acid, B-12, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, and B-6).
19 percent of vitamin A and 29 percent of iron. It offers 53.1 mg of selenium, which is about three and a half times the amount found in a chicken egg.
A goose egg is a good source of the antioxidant lutein which can help with eye and skin health.
A goose egg provides 379 mg of choline, a nutrient grouped with the B vitamins.
Choline plays an important role in the development of cells and cellular communication.
A lack of choline can affect liver disease, hardening of the arteries and neurological functioning.
When you think of any type of egg you probably think of cholesterol. A goose egg has more cholesterol than a chicken egg (1,227 mg. versus 186 mg., respectively).
A goose egg is slightly higher in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, but also higher in saturated fat than the chicken egg.
A goose egg has 19.97 g. of protein and a chicken egg has 6.23 grams.
Both types of eggs are a complete source of protein, which means that they have all the amino acids a body requires.
Department of Health (2013), Finglas PM et al. (2015) McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, Seventh summary edition.
Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, EU register of nutrition and health claims made on foods. https://www.egginfo.co.uk
EU egg marketing
Allen School of Health Sciences: The Truth About Eggs,
USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, Quail, Whole, Raw, Fresh,
University of Utah Extension: Finding the Right Mix of Carbs, Proteins, and Fats,
Colorado State University: Dietary Fat and Cholesterol, https://www.nutritionvalue.org/
Egg, Fresh, Raw, Whole regulations https://eur-lex.europa.eu/
USDA Egg-Grading Manual https://www.ams.usda.gov/