For generations, eggs were considered one of nature’s most perfect foods. However, just a couple of decades ago, they went under scrutiny for being too high in cholesterol, spurring the fad of Egg Beaters and egg-white omelets. Today, as more is learned about how our bodies break down nutrients, science has come full circle, and once again, the egg is being touted for its whole and complete nutrition profile—for humans and animals alike.
The present verdict is that eggs (including the yolk) are a safe, delicious, and nutritious food to consume on a regular basis. Eggs are a complete food source that provide protein, amino acids, riboflavin, folate, selenium, iron, essential fatty acids, and Vitamins A and B12. Eggs are also a wonderful source of taurine, which is especially important for cats, as taurine deficiency has been linked to dilated cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal condition.
Cooked: The simplest way to integrate eggs into your pet’s diet is to hard boil or scramble them, adding to your pet’s food bowl or using in between meals as treats. Feed in moderation; no more than 2-3 eggs per week depending on your pet’s size.
Raw: The best place to feed your pets raw egg is outside, to avoid any risk to the humans in the house. Many dogs will take an entire egg, crack the shell, eat the yolk and white, and then munch on the shell. For indoor feeding or smaller pets, it’s fine to break the egg for them, and either put it in a bowl on its own or mix it in with a meal.
The raw versus cooked food debate is prevalent in the animal community, and people tend to have strong feelings one way or the other. Do research and consult with your vet on what’s best for your pet. One thing both sides can agree on, however, is that consuming the whole entire egg, shell and all, is the best way to receive all of the nutritional benefits it offers and to counteract harmful imbalances.
Shells: Egg shells contain high levels of calcium and protein, which are needed for strong bones and teeth. If feeding raw, you can crush the eggshells into small pieces and sprinkle about a half teaspoon over your pet’s regular meal. Otherwise you can boil the shells first, then crush up into a fine powder with a food processor or clean coffee grinder and store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Consider the Source: As it true for moms everywhere, what they eat affects their growing babies. The type of feed a mother hen is offered and exposed to greatly determines the make-up of what’s inside the yolk and white of the eggs she lays. Many mass commercial egg producers use feed that contains soy, which research has shown can trigger allergies and/or other health issues (such as liver and thyroid disease) due to its high content of isoflavones. The best way to purchase eggs is to have a personal relationship with the chickens or the farmer caring for them so you can know for sure what they are eating and how they are treated. Obviously this is not a reality for many of us, so the next best thing is to buy only organic, free-range, GMO-free eggs. Look for specific seals on the package that guarantee the producer is in compliance with regulations and practices humane treatment of the hens.