Much like us humans, dogs enjoy a treat every once in a while. This means that we as dog parents are always looking for something delicious that we can give to our dogs. One of the most popular and inexpensive dog treats are pigs ears. But the question we all want to know is “Are pigs ears OK for dogs”?
The pigs ear is a much debated topic in the dog community. From Vet’s, dog trainers and more, this hot button topic just seems to constantly be in the fore front of a debate.
As a life long dog parent myself, I always like to know all the pros and cons of anything related to my dogs so I can make my own decision. Guidelines are great, but experience the facts and more, are ultimately the best way for any dog parent to make their own informed decision of what is best for their dog.
What is a pigs ear?
A pigs ear? Yes it is just what it sounds like. It is the ear of a pig, that is salvaged during butchering. The ear is washed with water to get off any dirty that maybe on the ear. If the ear is really dirty, then they are scrubbed with a brush to get completely clean. Once clean, the ear is trimmed up and either kept as a whole ear, or cut into strips.
Then they are then coated with oil before being cooked. After being coated the ear is then cooked by either being smoked or baked in the oven. The cooking process dries out the ear and causes it to puff up. When they are done being cooked, they come out with a very crunchy hard texture.
This texture makes them irresistible to our dogs.
There are many positive reasons why a dog parents gives their dog a pigs ear as a treat.
Here are some of those PROS:
- Keeps your dog busy and occupied. This makes it a perfect treat to give your dog when company is coming over, or just to get a break and keep them in one place. We all know as dog parents, that sometimes you just need a bit of a break or some personal space. HAHA! The pigs ear certainly does that.
- Dogs absolutely love the taste of them. They are delicious! This means that they will do almost anything to get one. You can use as a reward, and even as a way to entice them to do something that you haven’t had much success getting them to do. No dog can resist them.
- The ear is puffy and crunchy, so makes it an easy chew for dogs, which works well as a treat for senior dogs, dogs that aren’t big chewers and even the smaller dogs. Size, breed and age do not matter.
- When your dog chews on the ear, it gets softer allowing them to chew it over and over again. This act of chewing is an excellent way to help promote healthy gums and helps remove excess plague from their teeth. Along with a healthy mouth comes “fresh breath“, which is always a bonus for any dog.
- The ear is completely odourless, so no worries about it stinking up your dogs mouth, hair or even your house. There really is no clean up required for this type of treat. No clean up sounds good to me!!!
- One of the other great things about pigs ears, is that they are relatively inexpensive as far as dog treats go. Sometimes you can even buy them in a bulk size bag, which means they are even cheaper than buying them individually.
Like absolutely everything related to dogs in the form of: treats, food or anything they can eat, there are downsides to them. Pigs ears are no exception. They are negatives or cons that come with giving your dog a pigs ear.
Here are some of those CONS:
- A pigs ear is considered a very high fat content treat for your dog. Giving them to often can cause your dog to gain weight, making this not a great treat for dogs that are already obese. With anything super high in fat, there is always the risk of your dog developing pancreatitis from it. High fat content makes the treat taste amazing to your dog, but is not a healthy treat option. That being said, if you give your dog a pigs ear in moderation like once a week, then they can still enjoy them.
- Some dogs have trouble digesting the ear, after it is consumed. It can lead them to have diarrhea, upset stomach and even cause vomiting. The best way to avoid any issues with your do is on the first time you give it to them, start with a small strip not an entire ear. That way you can see how your dogs digestive system will react to them eating the ear.
- A pigs ear is also not a great option for aggressive or tough chewers. A dog that is a strong chewer will have a pigs ear destroyed and gone in no time. For this reason, they just aren’t as long-lasting as say a “bully stick” or “bone”.
- The biggest concern or negative that is associated with the pigs ear, is the risk of bacteria in the ear. Salmonella is the number one thing that can be present in a pigs ear. Like any other natural treat, there is always a high risk of bacteria if they are not cleaned and cooked properly. Making sure that you are buying your treats from a reputable place is the first and easiest way to avoid worrying about this issue. Let’s be honest, pigs aren’t exactly the cleanest of animals. Monitoring your dogs health after anything you give your dog to eat is always a smart idea.
When it comes to introducing something new to your dog, the most important thing is to monitor your dog the rest of the day and into the next day. Watch for any signs or issues with your dogs health and behavior. I even like to check them when they go outside to do their business to inspect everything and make sure there are no red flags.
While your dog is eating the pigs ear, supervising them is highly recommended. Like anything your dog eats, there is a risk of choking. I never leave my dog unattended while he is eating any bone, bully stick, pigs ear and more. I just don’t want anything to accidentally happen. If they do start to choke, you are right there and you can open their mouth to scoop out what is stuck. The one good thing about a pigs ear, is there are no sharp edges like a bone, that can pierce or puncture your dogs mouth.
My dog Fergus absolutely loves the pigs ears. He literally starts to salivate the second he sees it. Watching him eat it, is just so cute and he looks so darn happy. Truly adorable!!
Ultimately to answer the question “Are pigs ears OK for dogs”, I will say yes they are. Just be smart about where you are getting them from, and approach in moderation. An excess amount of anything fatty is a bad decision.
I hope I have answered all of your questions about pigs ears. I would love to hear your comments below.
If you are looking for some other dog treat options, check out these posts: