Are Pig Ears Good for Dogs? Everything You Need to Know 

Young dog eating pig ears for dogs

With proper moderation, dogs can greatly benefit from eating pig ears. It’s an occasional treat any dog will love and look forward to every now and then. But how exactly can pig ears be good for dogs?

Generally, pig ears have many benefits for dogs. If prepared correctly, they can be an excellent protein source and help remove plaque and tartar. Pig ears also provide dogs with additional vitamins. This yummy treat is made using a pig’s pinna, the part of the ear comprised of cartilage and skin.

If you want to learn more about this treat, stick to this guide until the end. Here, we’ll tackle the benefits and risks of consuming pig ears, how to prepare them at home, and more. 

What Are Pigs Ears for Dogs?

Picture of pig ears in white background

Pig ears for dogs are made literally out of the pig’s ear. This part comprises the pinna or the ear flap — mainly skin, cartilage or connective tissue, and a bit of muscle. 

These are animal by-products that were humanely harvested from farms. They directly undergo a process of blanching in boiling water and drying. Once dehydrated, these can be used as dog treats.

Regarding texture, a pig’s ear is described as gelatinous and crunchy, which is far different from meat, which is firm and fleshy. This makes pig ears a good alternative to dental chews.

Are Pigs Ears Safe for Dogs?

Pig ears are safe for some dogs, provided pet owners follow a few important guidelines when giving these as treats. One of the things to be mindful of is moderation.

After all, a pig ear contains high amounts of fat, protein, and calories. Although they benefit most dogs that need these nutrients, feeding them too many can cause health complications. 

However, pig ears are not ideal for dogs on the verge of becoming obese. It’s even worse for those at risk of pancreatitis because this leads to extreme abdominal pain since fatty foods lead to an inflamed pancreas. 

To add, feeding pig ears to dogs is safe so long as the amount is calculated based on their caloric needs. As a general rule, a treat should only take up less than 10% of the calorie requirements of the canine. 

Benefits and Risks of Pigs Ears for Dogs

Puppy eating dried pork ears

Pig ears are delectable treats any dog will find hard to resist. Without a doubt, your dog will be happy having this as a part of its diet. 

Still, weighing the health benefits against the risks of pig ears as treats for dogs remains essential.

Below is a list of advantages of giving your dog pig ears as snacks:

  • Prevents dental diseases: A pig ear treat is a long-lasting chew, made even tougher since it has been dehydrated. The abrasive action that takes place as the dog gnaws on a piece keeps your dog’s teeth clean. 
  • Budget-friendly: Compared to chews like cow ears and bully sticks, pig ears are relatively less costly. You will also be able to save more money if you buy this type of food in bulk.
  • Excellent source of nutrients: The nutrient content of pig ears includes protein or amino acids for healthy bodily functions, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and shiny coat, and chondroitin and glucosamine, which help manage or prevent hip dysplasia in dogs. 
  • Provides mental stimulation: Letting your dog chew on a piece of pig ear gives way to positive behavioral benefits. This yummy treat will keep your dog entertained, keeping it from developing undesirable behaviors.

Meanwhile, below are the potential risks of giving pig ears to dogs:

  • High-fat content: Pig ears have high-fat content. If a gram of fat is equivalent to nine calories, then a pig ear with 11 to 12 grams of fat already has around 100 calories. This is unsuitable for dogs that have dietary restrictions. 
  • Choking hazard: Pig ears, like many other dog chews, can be munched into smaller chunks. If swallowed, these smaller pieces may put your dog at risk of intestinal blockage and choking
  • Unsuitable for sensitive stomach: Due to the higher fat content of pig ears, canine companions with food sensitivities may experience gastrointestinal upsets, like gut discomfort, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Salmonella contamination: Product recalls may happen from time to time, like the recall that occurred in September 2019. People have had salmonella poisoning after handling pig ears or having contact with a dog that had it.

One way to stay ahead of these potential risks is by getting pet insurance coverage for your dog. Depending on the coverage, pet insurance usually includes monetary compensation for medical emergencies. 

How to Choose the Best Pig Ears for Your Dog

Dog owners should look for several things when buying pig ears for their dogs. Some of the safety tips to keep in mind are to choose high-quality ones and to know how the pig ears were processed.

Below lists the important aspects to remember when choosing the best pig ears for your dog:

  • Manufactured locally: Although not all imported pet supplies like treats contain harmful bacteria, experts recommend buying FDA-certified, locally-made pig ears. The fewer steps between your dog and the food’s source, the fewer chances there are for contamination.
  • Avoid smoked pig ears: Smoked pig ears increase cancer risk. You should choose those that are either slow-roasted or baked. Raw pig ears are also an option, although they’re hard to find. 
  • Durable and long-lasting: Pig ears, whether dehydrated or dried, should maintain their tough, chewy texture. That said, you should pick one that doesn’t easily break down, indicating that they’re long-lasting and have fewer possibilities of causing choking incidents. 
  • Choose preservatives-free: Pig ears don’t require preservatives or additives, which are sometimes toxic to your dog. That said, avoid purchasing those with other listed elements on the label. Keep in mind that pig ears are a single-ingredient treat. 

Aside from this list, consider buying pig ear treats from reputable vendors and places with high animal care standards. Free-range pigs are preferred since they’re fed natural, hormone-free diets. 

How Should You Prepare Pig Ears for Your Dog?

If you’ve ever purchased pig ear treats from your local pet store, you know that they aren’t as affordable as making these treats at home. 

If you prepare pig ears for your dog, not only would you be able to save money, but you can also be assured that it is free from unnecessary chemicals.

Here’s a guide on how to prepare pig ears for your dog:

  1. Prepare the ingredients and cooking tools. Purchase raw pig ears and extra virgin olive oil from your local food market. Prepare your kitchen shears, tin foil, and a wire-rack oven pan.
  2. Prepare the pig ears. A pig ear may have cartilage and bones that attach the ear to the head. Cut this part off until you only have the whole ear left. Wash it thoroughly to scrub off any dirt. 
  3. Cut pig ears into smaller portions. A whole pig ear needs to be divided into strips. The size would depend on whether you have a large, medium, or smaller dog. This process makes the pig ears digestible.
  4. Coat the pig ears with oil. Use a brush to spread a layer of olive oil around the pig ears. Some owners also incorporate bouillon soup for added flavor, but this is optional.
  5. Bake the pig ears between 175° and 225° F (75° to 107°C). Layer the pig ear strips on a rack with a baking sheet and tin foil underneath to catch the drippings. Flip them around the cooking midpoint and let them bake until the desired crispness is achieved. 

How Often Should Dogs Eat Pig Ears?

Pig ears are occasional treats that can be given to dogs once or twice a month. How much you give will vary from one dog to the next. 

With the ideal one pig ear every two weeks or one month, the size of this dog treat will depend on your dog’s proportions. Large dog breeds can have a whole piece. 

Meanwhile, you need to reduce the pig ear to make it smaller for medium and small dogs so they don’t exceed the suggested amount of fat and protein intake. 

Are Pig Ears Safe for Puppies?

White puppy eating a dried pig ear

Puppies should generally steer clear from pig ear treats until they’re over six months old. This is because they have more sensitive stomachs, making them prone to digestive upset. 

Moreover, they still have a less robust health immune system. If the pig ears have been contaminated, they’re highly likely to develop illnesses. 

Alternatives to Pigs Ears for Dogs

Aside from pig ear chews, there are other similar treats you can give to your dog. Being aware of these will help you determine which is more suitable based on your pet’s needs and chewing habits. 

Still, supervision while giving them healthy dog treats is crucial.

Here’s a list of the alternatives to pigs ears for dogs: 

  • Bully sticks: Bully sticks, which are commonly found in pet stores, are made from a hardened beef muscle that gets soft after a long chew. 
  • Rawhide: Rawhide chews are made from the inner layer of the horse or cowhide. This treat is long-lasting, but it’s also hard to digest; hence, it is not always recommended. Owners need to manually remove the big chunks to avoid intestinal obstruction.
  • Yak cheese chews: This new chew comes from yak milk with lime juice and salt, resulting in hard blocks of dried yak cheese. It has low lactose content and is easy to digest. 
  • Antlers: The all-natural antler chew comes from elk or deer, and it can effectively keep your dog busy. This treat lasts long, although you must ensure your dog isn’t a power chewer to avoid breaking its teeth.
  • Dental bones: A dental bone chew is given primarily to improve your dog’s dental health. These easy-to-digest treats have a chewy texture ideal for senior dogs with dental problems.

Regardless of what chew you give your dog, you must remember that a treat that works for one dog may not be ideal for the other. Always observe your pet to ensure that it remains safe while consuming the treat. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Puppy chewing pig ears

Are Pig Ears Fully Digestible For Dogs?

Since they can be chewed, pig ears are digestible for dogs. However, you must closely monitor how it nibbles on its treats, as some dogs tend to swallow traits right away. 

That said, when you feed pig ears, you need to teach your dog to eat more slowly. This will also lower the risk of your pet experiencing bloat

Are Pig Ears Better Than Rawhide?

Pig ears are, in some ways, better than rawhide since they’re more readily digestible. If rawhide treats were chewed into large chunks and swallowed accidentally, the rawhide poses a higher risk of obstruction. 

Do Pig Ears Give Dogs Diarrhea?

Feeding pig ears to your dog won’t give it diarrhea. Instead, it is when their owners give them too much of the recommended amount. 

If your dog experiences diarrhea and remains playful, this can be treated at home. It only becomes alarming once there’s a change in your dog’s behavior, eating habits, and energy level after you feed it pig ears. 

Can Pig Ears Cause Blockage?

Pig ear dog treats may cause intestinal blockages if your pet gulps in a large piece. The swallowed pig ear chunks may also get stuck in the esophagus or stomach. 

With that in mind, monitoring is essential instead of leaving it snacking on pig ears to avoid putting your dog’s health at risk.

Final Thoughts

Giving your dog pig ears is more than just spoiling its taste buds. These provide mental stimulation and prevent dental disease.

However, despite the nutritional benefits pig ears have, they shouldn’t become a food staple. Pork ears are often likened to ice cream for humans; although it’s appetizing, it shouldn’t be an everyday food. 

Hopefully, this article has taught you a thing or two. Don’t forget to share your thoughts on the topic of pig ears for dogs by leaving a comment below!

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