Original Question: I am wondering if it is okay to feed Tala a whole, raw egg, including the shell. Is it okay if the egg is from a grocery store (I have read that those eggs have some sort of spray on them that may not be good for her). - Christine
Thanks for your question.
I get this type of question a lot. People frequently ask me if a certain type of treat or food is OK for their pet. The most interesting thing is that veterinarians can never really answer that question. If the food item is toxic to an animal, the answer is easy, you just can’t feed it. But if it’s not known to be toxic, then it really depends on your individual pet and how it processes the food item. For example, I will have a lot of people tell me that they’re going to start feeding their pet lamb and rice diet because their dog is allergic to a lot of ingredients. But what happens if the dog is allergic to lamb? The response is not going to go very well.
I’ll give you an example that applies to your question. I once treated a dog that suffered from terrible food allergies. Before I first met the dog, previous veterinarians had put the dog on medications to try and reduce the chronic allergic reaction at a great expense to the owner and an unideal treatment plan for the pet. I performed an allergy panel and discovered that the dog had a significant allergy to eggs. Looking back at the different foods that the owner had tried, it turned out they all had egg as an ingredient. After that, we chose a diet that didn’t have egg as an ingredient and the allergies resolved within weeks with no medication. So in that situation, eggs were terrible, but in the vast majority of cases feeding raw eggs to dogs would be fine. This story highlights an important issue to consider when formulating your own diet. Anything you give your dog in its diet needs to be given in a small amount, consistently, and be extremely vigilant about monitoring the clinical response. If your dog develops any symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, soft stools, weight loss, skin reactions, itchiness or other signs, it could indicate that your dog may have a sensitivity to that ingredient. In order to identify this, you need to only offer one new ingredient at a time so you’ll know which one creates the problem.
So when you do offer a new food ingredient, take it slow. My advice is to give a tiny amount of the new food item, in your case the egg. Start with a portion of it and give this amount every day and don’t change anything else about the diet. Then monitor the stools very carefully while you continue this process for about two weeks. Monitor your pet for other things that might indicate they could be sensitive to that item, such as itchy, vomiting, lethargy, behavioural change, excessive water intake, excessive urination, or anything else that just seems odd. If there are no changes then you can be pretty sure that the new ingredient is safe for your pet. Going forward, I would recommend that you feed the item consistently in moderation.
Keep in mind that raw eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella. This is a bacteria that can cause an infection and inflammation in your dog’s intestine. It is also zoonotic, meaning that people in your household could get it as well. Be sure to clean the food preparation area well and wash the dog’s food bowl often to prevent a significant build-up of this bacteria in the environment.
I would recommend that you perform blood work and a urine test both before and after using a diet. This will ensure that there are no internal organ reactions that you may not be able to perceive clinically.
Now that you are preparing a food, you are now taking on the responsibility of balancing it and making sure it is complete. In order to do this, I would recommend you purchase vitamin and mineral supplements to make sure you are not missing a fundamental element of the diet because your ingredients can be a bit limited. It’s always a great idea to find a book created by a veterinary nutritionist who has recipes for homemade diets. If the author is reputable, then the recipes suggested will likely be well balanced and you could compare your homemade diet with ones that are recommended in the book to achieve a balanced diet.
Lastly, you can consider treating your dog with a probiotic from time to time. This is a mix of bacteria that are the ‘healthy’ gut bacteria which most dogs will have in their gastrointestinal system. This may help prevent any overgrowth of the ‘bad’ bacteria which can end up causing gastrointestinal problems. I would recommend you use a course of probiotics a few times a year but please get your veterinarian’s advice on the frequency and use of this.
I hope this helps and good luck!
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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