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This blog post was originally published on November 14, 2014. It has been updated with new information and republished.
Every other day I crack an egg over our dogs’ food. Back in my kibble days, I heard that this habit was great for skin and coat health. Today, I add raw eggs because this is a superfood for dogs; basically, a natural multi-vitamin.
But what about the shells?
There are many dogs that'll eat the shells, my dogs aren't interested so I save the ones from a friend's local farm, dry them out, grind them in a coffee grinder, and feed them with meals that don't have bone (emu and venison) and I don't have duck necks on hand (which is what I feed my dogs to add bone to their meal).
The Benefit of Raw Eggs for Dogs
Eggs are a good source of…
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- Fatty Acids
I source my raw eggs from friends who raise chickens and Costco, which carries pasture-raised, certified organic, certified humane chicken eggs. I've been told that pasture-raised, organic chicken eggs are the healthiest so that's what I buy for myself and my dogs.
I add raw eggs to my dogs' meals at least three times weekly.
Raw Egg Whites are Bad for Dogs
Many people will tell you that feeding raw eggs is bad for dogs. Nope, it's feeding ONLY egg whites that can cause a problem; a diet of egg whites only can lead to a biotin deficiency. Biotin is necessary for proper cellular growth, processing fatty acids, and promoting skin and coat health. This is why feeding the whole egg is important.
The biotin deficiency scare is hard to shake because some people have told me that you have to avoid feeding too many eggs and have warned me not to feed them daily because this can still lead to a biotin deficiency. I've checked with veterinarians, nutritionists, and experienced (10+ years) and found that this isn't the case. So I continue to feed my dogs a raw egg (each) every other day (or about 3-4 days a week).
Raw Egg Shells are a Good Source of Calcium
Raw eggshells are an excellent source of calcium, however, raw eggs are not a substitute for bone.
If you have a dog that is showing no interest in raw bones (recreational or raw meaty bones), it may be tempting to skip the bones altogether. Before kicking the bones to the curb, take a moment to understand the role of calcium and phosphorus.
- Eggshells are very high in calcium
- Meat is very high in phosphorus
- Bones are high in calcium and phosphorus
Together, calcium and phosphorus do more than help to develop strong, healthy teeth and bones. Calcium also boosts muscle health, heart health, and the immune system. And that's just the start. Phosphorus optimizes the use of carbs and fat while promoting cell repairs.
So I don't feel comfortable using eggshells to replace raw bones unless I have a clear understanding of how much phosphorus a meat-only diet is bringing to the table. You can learn this by looking up the proteins you feed in the USDA database. Ideally, you'll want a 1 to 1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. You may want more calcium if you're feeding a puppy, however, that's a discussion to have with your vet to make sure. I didn't make any changes to Scout and Zoey's diet when they were puppies; they ate the same meals as Rodrigo and Sydney, who were 4 years old when we brought puppies home.
Source of Calcium 1 – Green Tripe
Green tripe is an alternative to eggshells and raw bones that I like because it contains the perfect balance of calcium and phosphorus. However, it's important to know that green tripe is a high-fat protein, so if you do feed more of it to your dog (I like to feed green tripe at least one day a week), then make sure that your dog is getting more exercise or that you have a good understanding of the keto diet should you want to go that route.
Source of Calcium 2 – Food Grade Bone Meal
Food grade bone meal is another alternative and I'm linking to a product that was recommended by a holistic veterinarian. The only issue I have with feeding bone meal is the sourcing and manufacturing. If the bones come from an animal subjected to toxins, then the bone meal may contain trace toxins – so know your source.
NOT a Source of Calcium – Bone Broth
Despite some rumblings in the raw feeding world to the contrary, I don't believe that bone broth is a substitution for bone in a raw diet for dogs. I feed my dogs bone broth to support gut and joint health.
DIY Calcium Supplement for Dogs
Long story short, when I'm feeding a raw meal that doesn't contain bone and I'm between duck neck orders, then mixing ground eggshells into my dogs' meals is an option; not my favorite option, but it's an option. This is an easy recipe that I follow…
12 or more eggshells from a local farm, cleaned and dried. I do not use grocery store eggs for a calcium supplement because I'm not sure what was used to rinse them clean.
– I store clean eggshells in the carton, in the fridge; I leave them there until I have enough to make a batch of eggshells.
– I grind the eggshells in my Nutribullet (it will stain the container white after the first use) or coffee grinder until I have a fine powder.
– I then store the powder in an airtight Rubbermaid container in the freezer unless I plan to use it immediately and then I store it in the fridge for a month. If I don't use the eggshells in meal prep, then I sprinkle them in the garden to keep slugs away.
When adding ground eggshells to a raw diet as a calcium supplement, I've read that our dogs need 400 milligrams of absorbable calcium per one pound of boneless meat (muscle meat + organ meat). 400 milligrams is approximately 1/2 teaspoon. This is what I would feed to my dogs:
- Rodrigo: 1/2 teaspoon per meal
- Sydney: 1/4 teaspoon per meal
- Scout: 1/2 teaspoon per meal
- Zoey: 1/4 teaspoon per meal
How I Add Bone to My Dog's Raw Meals
My four dogs get duck necks as their source of bone year around. In the spring and summer months, they also enjoy recreational bones and raw meaty bones that they can eat outside:
- lamb necks
- duck frames
- beef knuckle bones
- buffalo knuckle bones
- lamb femurs