I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new treats to feed my dog! I love spoiling my pets and giving them different things to try.
Pig ears are healthy for dogs to eat in moderation—about once a week. However, you should always supervise your dog as they chew, as there are risks. If your dog eats the entire ear or large pieces of it whole, they may choke or develop an intestinal blockage.
In this article, we’ll talk about whether pig ears are good for dogs, the pros and cons, and how to feed them safely.
Table of Contents:
Are Pig Ears Good for Dogs?
Pig ears are okay for dogs in moderation. They aren’t the healthiest, but they are an enjoyable treat that can keep light chewers occupied!
Their high protein content is very good for dogs, while their high fat content makes them risky to feed dogs with pancreatitis. Too many pig ears can cause weight gain—but, then, so can too much of any food!
That said, pig ears do come with their risks as well, which we will dive into below.
How Often Can Dogs Eat Pig Ears?
You can feed your dog a pig’s ear around once a week. It’s not recommended to feed them daily for an extended period.
Also, consider what else you’re feeding your dog. You don’t want to give them too many similar, high-fat treats at once—that’ll produce basically the same result as them eating a bunch of pig ears.
Treats in general should never make up over 10% of your dog’s daily calories. Their number one source of nutrition should always be a high-quality dog food that has meat listed as the first ingredient.
Are Pig Ears Better than Rawhide?
Pig ears are safer than rawhide, but they still come with risks. If your dog breaks off large pieces and swallows them whole, the ear can cause an intestinal blockage. Your dog may need surgery to remove it, which can be a costly veterinary bill for a simple treat!
Your dog can also choke on pig ears. This is most likely if they break off pieces and swallow them without chewing. Some dogs might also try to swallow the ear whole and get it caught in their throat.
If your dog is choking, perform the Heimlich maneuver or call your nearest emergency veterinarian right away. They can talk you through what to do to save your dog.
Pros of Pig Ears
They’re High in Protein
Dogs are omnivores and meat is a large part of their diet. They require daily protein in order to live a healthy lifestyle.
Dogs need one gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. So if you have an 80-pound dog, they need 80 grams of protein every day! Luckily, pig ears are high in protein.
That said, your dog’s daily dog food should cover all of their nutritional needs—so while the extra protein won’t hurt, it shouldn’t be vital to their wellbeing either.
Pig Ears Keep Dogs Occupied
If your dog is a light chewer, pig ears can keep them occupied. They can be used to keep your dog entertained and out of the way while you’re cleaning the house or taking care of another short task.
They’re unlikely to last your dog hours like stronger chews, but they’re good for puppies or dogs who have trouble with harder materials, which we’ll discuss below.
They Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean
Pig ears are tough enough to scrape off plaque as your dog chews, and a light chewer may chew them for an extended period. They can be a good addition to your dog’s teeth care routine.
We still recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily (or as often as you can manage) and bringing them to the veterinarian for teeth cleaning once a year.
They’re Soft and Easy to Chew
Unlike harder treats like bully sticks and rawhide, pig ears are soft and easy to chew. If your senior dog is having difficulty chewing, for instance, a pig’s ear can be perfect for them!
Small dogs and brachycephalic breeds, in particular, tend to struggle with their dental health and often have multiple teeth pulled as they age. But they still want to chew because it’s instinctive for dogs and has even been shown to reduce stress.
Pig Ears are Inexpensive
Packs of pig ears can sell for less than $2 per ear, making them a pretty good deal! They’re a good financial choice so long as your dog is a light chewer.
Stronger chewers will go through them more quickly, but they’re still a relatively low-cost treat for them as well. Just be sure not to overfeed them!
Dogs Love Them!
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, dogs love the taste of pig ears. We always want our dogs to enjoy their treats.
Pig ears can be very motivating for some dogs. Try asking for a trick or two before handing one over and you might be surprised how quickly your dog obeys!
Cons of Pig Ears
Alongside their high protein content, pig ears are also high in fat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—dogs need fat to survive!
However, it does mean that they shouldn’t be fed in large quantities. In addition, some dogs will be unable to eat pig ears. Veterinarians don’t recommend them for dogs with pancreatitis or who are already overweight.
They Can Cause Intestinal Blockages
If your dog swallows all or part of a pig’s ear whole, it can cause blockages in their digestive tract. Strong chewers may be more likely to tear off and swallow large pieces without chewing.
This can also present a choking hazard, particularly if they break the ear into pieces or it came that way initially.
Always supervise your dog while they chew, as they’re more likely to get into trouble if left unattended!
Some Dogs Eat them Quickly
As we discussed above, strong chewers will have no problem chomping through a pig ear. It might disappear in seconds!
This isn’t bad for your dog, so long as they chew it adequately. It means they really enjoyed the treat and didn’t want to make it last.
However, it can lead to overfeeding if you’re trying to keep your dog occupied, which can then lead to you spending a lot of money on pig ears! Your dog may also gain weight or become bloated or ill due to eating too many of these treats.
So long as you feed in moderation and your dog eats them safely, though, it’s still fine for strong chewers to eat pig ears. Just don’t have unrealistic expectations going in that these treats will last a long time.
- 100% ALL NATURAL: Single-ingredient dog treats made with ZERO artificial ingredients, ZERO hormones, ZERO preservatives and ZERO additives for a completely natural chew.
- DELICIOUS: Each one of our pig ears is slow-roasted to preserve natural flavor, resulting in a delicious treat your dog will go wild for!
- FUN: These treats are GREAT for relieving boredom and stress in your furry loved ones!
- PROMOTES HEALTHY TEETH: Our natural chews can help your furry friend get rid of plaque and tartar buildup, helping them achieve healthier teeth and gums!
- HEALTHY: Our WHOLE pig ear chews are a great healthy alternative to rawhide for your dog!
Some Sources of Pig Ears aren’t Safe
When buying pig ears, you need to ensure you’re getting them from a safe source. Sometimes, unhealthy additives are used. Look for pig’s ears with no additives.
Avoid smoked pig ears because smoked meats have been linked to increased cancer risk.
Ideally, your pig ears only have one ingredient. Your dog doesn’t need any other additives!
How to Feed Pig Ears Safely
You may be concerned about the safety risks of feeding your dog pig ears like salmonella or the chance of your dog choking on the chew. Here are some ways to reduce those risks and feed pig ears safely:
- Always wash your hands after handling pig ears. This will protect you in case of the pig ear containing salmonella. Although the risk is slim, especially for pig ears bought in the United States, it is possible—and humans are at greater risk than dogs.
- Disinfect the surfaces the pig ear touches, especially if it’s raw. Some people prefer to feed their dogs raw meats, which is fine so long as it’s responsibly sourced. However, you should always thoroughly disinfect the surface you’ve used to prep the meal afterward!
- Always supervise your dog’s chewing. No matter what your dog chews, there’s a chance of it breaking apart and creating a choking hazard or intestinal blockage. Pig ears are no different and your dog should be supervised while eating them.
- Feed whole pig ears. Your dog is more likely to eat small pieces whole or choke on them. A whole pig’s ear is safer (though, of course, they can still break pieces off themselves) and also takes longer to chew—keeping your dog occupied longer. It’s a win-win!
- You can never eliminate the risk entirely. If you don’t feel safe feeding them to your dog, follow your instincts. While some dogs are fine eating pig ears, others can easily hurt themselves by choking or swallowing them whole. You know your dog best!
Last update on 2022-01-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API