Pig Ears For Dogs – When it comes to dogs, they would love to be out all day long. They want every hour to be playtime, be it playing fetch or other dog games, no matter the time of the day.
As much as dog owners would love to let their dogs go outside, it isn’t just possible because we have to tend to other day-to-day activities.
So, ultimately, you will have to find other ways to keep your pet friend entertained. One such way is to give your dog fun treats. Treats help keep your pet occupied and improve your bond with your pet since you’re giving him or her frequent treats.
Talking of treats, pig ears can be a great option for your doggo. They’re a perfect combo of dry and a tasty chew. Your dog will absolutely love pig ears due to their different taste.
In fact, pig ears can be extremely beneficial for your pet. It can help clean your pet’s teeth clean, provide a means of exercise for your pet’s jaw, and also strengthen his/her gums.
But are pig ears absolutely okay for dogs? Do they pose any threat to your dog’s health? Let’s find out.
Wondering what pig ears are?
They are precisely what you guessed. Pig ears are actual pig ears, harvested humanely. Pig ears are basically the flap part of the ear (dehydrated), referred to as pinna. Pinna comprises of cartilage and skin, containing no muscles whatsoever, thus, making them flexible and a fun treat to chew.
How Are Pig Ear Treats Made?
Pig ear treats might appear strange, but dogs absolutely love them. If you’re or curious about how they’re made, here’s a detailed insight into it.
Pig ears are humanely harvested and are a byproduct of domestic pigs from farmhouses. Once harvested, these pig ears go through a blanching process by boiling them. Afterward, they are rapidly cooled in ice water. This process helps remove the skin and hair parts from the ears.
Once cleaned and dried off completely, these are dehydrated either by heating them in an oven (at low-medium temperatures) or simply by setting them on a dehydration rack to remove all of the water content.
It takes around 4 – 24 hours to dehydrate them completely, depending on the type of dehydration approach. To make them even tastier, some producers even put them in a smoker to give them a smoky flavor.
Once fully dehydrated and smoked (optional), they turn into these tasty and luscious treats for your doggo.
Can I Make My Own?
Yes, you can! This might surprise you, but you sure can make your own pig ears at your home. In fact, it can be a fun activity both for you and your doggo. Or you can simply get them from your local store, but most pet owners prefer making their own.
Making your own pig ear treats allow you to ensure no additives are added to pig ears and are entirely safe for your pet friend. There are many pig ear recipes that you can use to prepare pig ears for your dog.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some simple steps to help you make your own pig ears.
- For starters, you will have to get actual pig ears. You can easily get them from your local butcher or by simply going to the farmer’s market.
- Wash the ears thoroughly to ensure there is no dirt on the ears. Most likely, the hair will already be removed from the ears, but if they haven’t been removed, you will have to remove them by blanching and boiling them.
- Once the hair is removed, grab some dog-friendly cooking oil (olive or coconut oil are some safe options), and coat them completely.
- After coating them, place them in an oven. Set the temperature to low-medium and leave the pig ears in the oven for a couple of minutes to dehydrate them.
- Keep in mind, that it may leave an unpleasant odor in your kitchen so make sure to open some windows.
- Once dehydrated, you will now have fresh, homemade pig ears for your furry little doggo!
Are Pig Ear Treats Healthy for Dogs?
Yes, pig ear treats are healthy for dogs. But as you can notice, they are termed as “treats.” Pig ears are only supposed to be a treat and not part of your pet friend’s diet.
Here is the nutritional content of a single boiled pig ear according to USDA.
The nutritional content may vary and are dependent on how a manufacturer processes them.
As you can see, pig ears are extremely high in calories. Based on this, it can be said that pig ears are only healthy if they are served as a treat. If they are served as a staple in your pet’s diet, it will lead to a number of health complications that no pet owner would want for their pet.
So, pig ears should only be served as an occasional treat. If you want to make them a part of your pet’s diet, you will have to consult with your pet’s nutritionist to help create a safe diet plan for your furry one.
On a side note, no more than 10% of your pet’s calorie intake should come from a non-balanced source (Pig ears).
To avoid any problems, you need to consult with your vet to determine how many calories can your dog consume safely from treats. Besides, if you’re using a store-bought product, make sure to check the labeling for precise calorie count.
A general rule of thumb to ensure your pet’s safety is to only feed your dog half of a pig ear. This will be more than enough to occupy your pet’s mind and also ensure your pet’s calorie intake isn’t disturbed.
Are They Good for Cleaning Teeth?
Since pig ears are chewed, it will likely help clean your pet’s teeth. But you should know that it is certainly not enough to replace your pet’s primary dental care and even after a hard chew, tartar may still be found under the gumline.
In addition to this, there is no scientific evidence that hard chews like pig ears can prevent mouth complications. However, certain treats are produced for this purpose, so if you’re looking for those, you can get them instead.
At the end of the day, nothing can replace plain old brushing your pet’s teeth regularly with dog-friendly toothpaste.
Are Pig Ear Chews Safe?
Yes, pig ears are chew safe if you serve them merely as treats only. There are a few things that you should consider prior to feeding your pet pig ears. Overfeeding your pet pig ear chews may lead to certain health complications.
1. Intestinal blockages
Pig ears are generally classified as hard chews. When feeding your pet hard chews like pig ears, you need to keep an eye out on them. This is because pig chews are extremely hard and when chewed on, they break into tiny pieces.
Since they break into tiny pieces, they come with a big risk of choking and even intestinal blockages in the worst cases. After feeding your pet pig chews, observe your pet for a few hours. If your pet friend is coughing or the salivation has increased, there may be something wrong with your pet.
Excessive salivation may occur if some of the bits are stuck in your pet’s mouth or throat. This is extremely risky and a visit to the vet is crucial in this case.
In addition, if your pet consumes a large piece of whole pig ear without chewing it first, it will go directly to your pet’s stomach.
It is difficult to break once it reaches your pet’s stomach and may not even be digested with ease. In that case, your pet will suffer from constipation and physical discomforts like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Unfortunately, the only way to treat this is by surgery. So, make sure you do not give your pet whole pig ears and always try splitting them in half just to be safe.
2. Salmonella contamination:
Handling pig ears may lead to salmonella contamination. It is simply linked with handling meat products and is caused due to the buildup of disease-causing pathogens on the meat. So, make sure you wash your hands after dealing with pig ears.
Other than that, you shouldn’t be worried about anything.
3. Pig Ear Fat Content:
Pig ears have a high amount of fats in them. This is a major concern since it can lead to severe health complications like pancreatitis if overfed.
Although most dogs are prone to this, but there are still chances of your pet suffering from the adverse effects of the fat content if he/she has a sensitive digestive system.
Keep in mind, pig ears alone aren’t enough o cause such issues like pancreatitis. For this to occur, your pet may already have a high-fat diet. Some symptoms to watch out for include vomiting, diarrhea, and digestive discomfort.
FDA’s advice is not to give pig ears to your dogs
Due to a salmonella outbreak in 2019, FDA advised avoiding giving your pet friend pig ears. Officials were inquiring about a multiple-state outbreak that had a suspected link with the handling of pig ears.
The primary risk of this was to humans, which is why back then, it was advised to steer away from pig ears. But it was more of risk back then, and if you get pre-packaged pig ears for your pet friend, there’s nothing you should be worried about.
Do Pig Ears Make Good Chew Toys?
A good chew toy will keep your pet occupied and entertained for longer periods. As you might already know, your dog primarily uses its mouth to explore the world. Pig ears can be an excellent choice for a chew toy to help satisfy that need of your pet to explore the world.
Good chew toys like pig ears are also beneficial when it comes to leaving your canine friend for prolonged periods of time. It will not only prevent boredom in your pet but also help lower his/her anxiety and stress.
Is Rawhide A Better Alternative?
Rawhide can be an alternative to pig ears since they are similar to pig ears. They are also made of the same connective tissue that pig ears are made of. However, like pig ears, rawhide also requires the same care.
Rawhide too carries the risk of intestinal blockages and asphyxiation, so you need to be around your pet friend when you feed them rawhide.
Many rawhide products are now available in the form of multiple compressed layers to tackle the risks of internal blockages. If you’re looking for compressed ones, you should ask for compressed rawhide in your local stores.
Other Healthy Alternatives:
There are plenty of chewable toys for your furry friend. Not only will they keep your pet occupied, but they will also provide them with nutritional benefits. Our top picks include diced zucchini and sweet potatoes (sliced ones).
You can either serve them directly or freeze them, and slightly thaw them to give your pet friend a refreshing treat. Besides, you can also feed your pet friend fruits like pineapples and watermelons to chew on. Both pineapples and watermelons will help soothe your dog’s gums and provide plenty of nutritional content as well.
Are Cow Ears Good For Dogs?
Cow ears, like pig ears are perfectly fine for your pet friend. Cow ears too are made from cartilage which are a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin.
They are soft, and easy to chew which makes them an excellent treat for dogs that have sensitive teeth. Besides, if your dog isn’t a fan of hard chews, cow ears may be an excellent option for them.
Since cow ears are cartilage, they are also easy to digest, so you do not have to worry about digestive issues.
Cow Ears Vs Pig Ears For Dogs
Cow ears and pig ears, both are basically cartilage but there are two prominent differences in them.
The first difference between the two is their nutritional content. Pig ears are relatively higher in fat and contain over 15% of fat and 22% of protein. While on the other hand, cow ears comprise of over 12% fat and 26% protein.
Based on this, cow ears contain a relatively lesser amount of fats, so they are more suitable for dogs.
The second difference between the two is the fur on the ears when you buy pre-cooked ones. Cow ears are relatively furry, while pig ears have very few hairs. So, when feeding your pet pig ears, you will not have to worry about them. Whereas cow ears contain way too much hair.
Although when you get pre-cooked cow ears, the hair will be removed already. But that is not the issue. The real issue is how these hairs were removed. If they were removed using chemicals instead of blanching or scalding, you should avoid giving them to your doggo.
Chemically cleaned cow ears may not be safe for your pet, so you need to be careful.
Pasture Raised Ears Are Best:
As the title suggests, pasture-raised ears are the best. If possible, you should source pig ears from pasture-raised pigs. They are way superior in terms of their nutritional content and have a relatively better composition of omega 6 – omega 3 fatty acids.
Compared to factory-farmed meats, pasture-raised pigs have not been fed any antibiotics or other supplements.
They are also raised on their intended foods rather than the animal feed served on commercial farms. This also means pasture-raised pigs will be relatively healthier, thus, their cartilage will also be in a good shape.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Pig Ears Safe For Dogs?
Pig ears are safe for dogs as long as you do not serve them whole. When served as a whole, they will likely lead to intestinal blockages and may increase the risk of your pet choking on them if swallowed whole.
However, if you chop them down and feed your dog half of an ear, you will have nothing to be worried about.
Are There Any Benefits Of Pig Ears For Dogs?
Yes, pig ears carry a number of health benefits for dogs. These include:
- Provides a mode of dental aid for your dogs
- Provides your pet with essential nutrients including protein
- Improves the skin and hair condition of your dog
Are Pig Ears Digestible For Dogs?
Yes, pig ears are mostly soft cartilage bone and are easy to digest. In fact, cow ears too are easy to digest for dogs.
Are Pig Ears Better Than Rawhide?
Yes, pig ears are generally better than rawhide. Although rawhide is a better dental aid compared to pig ears, but they pose serious choking hazards to your dogs. So, you should stick to pig ears instead.
Do Pig Ears Give Dogs Diarrhea?
Pig ears do not directly give your dogs diarrhea. It is the salmonella infection that can cause diarrhea in your pet friend.
However, if you source pig ears from a quality place and take precautions when preparing them, you shouldn’t have to worry about salmonella.
Final Thoughts | Pig Ears For Dogs!
Pig ears are an excellent chewable for your pet to keep them occupied and provide them with some proteins as well. However, there is a lingering risk of intestinal blockages and pancreatitis in pig ears. In fact, it also poses a health risk to humans as well.
Therefore, you need to be careful when preparing pig ear treats for your doggo. In addition to this, pig ears are extremely high in calories. Due to their calorie content, you should not feed them in excess. Half an ear is plenty for your doggo; you shouldn’t feed anything more than this.
Furthermore, you also need to observe your pet when feeding him or her pig ears. Your pet may choke on the hard pieces, or it may get stuck in your dog’s throat, so you need to watch out for any adverse reactions.