Eggs are a common ingredient in dog snacks and homemade dog food, but the shells are often left out. But eggshells can provide nutrition to your dog along with the gooey substance they contain. Eggshells can supplement much-needed calcium in your dog's diet in a way he'll definitely enjoy.
Nutrients in Eggshells
Eggshells are high in calcium, an essential nutrient. Besides building strong bones, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements notes that calcium plays an important role in several other bodily functions. Calcium aids in circulation, hormone distribution, muscular movement, neuron transmission and intracellular communication. Eggshells also contain strontium, which may support bone health, and magnesium, which is good for bones, regulates blood pressure and keeps the heart beating steadily.
How Eggshells Can Improve Your Dog's Diet
Eggshells are a natural way to boost your dog's intake of bone-friendly nutrients. Dogs in the wild would get calcium through eggs they raid from nests and by chewing their prey's bones. Feeding your dog eggshells supplements what his domesticated diet may be lacking. One eggshell provides enough extra calcium for the whole day. Receiving the right amount of calcium can also prevent arthritis in your pup. Several researchers from the National Institute of Rheumatic Diseases in Piestany, Slovak Republic, conducted a study on eggshells in 2003 that showed eating eggshells can prevent and treat arthritis and osteoporosis in humans and animals.
The Center for Disease Control warns that in rare cases it's possible for eggshells to be contaminated with salmonella the same way the raw egg inside can contain pathogens. To sterilize eggshells before feeding them to your dog, boil them in water for three minutes, cool and serve. If you're feeding your dog whole eggs with the shell, hard-boiled eggs are the safest. The magic number for killing any salmonella in eggs is cooking them to 160 degrees F. However, instances of food-borne salmonella are rare and most cases originate from commercial kitchens, not store-bought foods.
Ways to Serve Eggshells to Your Dog
Instead of throwing them on the compost heap, you can keep eggshells from your own eggs to give to your dog. Rick Woodford, aka “the dog food dude” and author of "Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritional Meals and Treats for Dogs," recommends cleaning, drying and grinding eggshells into a fine powder, using a clean coffee or spice grinder. Eggshell powder is easy to mix into your dog's food. Dry eggshells also keep longer, so you can safely store your dry eggshell powder for up to two months. Dogs can also eat whole hard-boiled eggs with the shell intact. Many dogs are happy to eat eggs shell and all, but if your pup seems a bit baffled, you can break up the egg for him to show him the way.
Madeline Masters works as a dog walker and professional writer. In the past she has worked as a fitness columnist, fundraising copywriter and news reporter. Masters won two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Awards in 2009. She graduated from Elizabethtown College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.