Pig And Cow Ears: When They’re Safe For Dogs

pig ears for dogs
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If you’re wondering whether pig and cow ears are safe for dogs, you’re not alone. 

Dog owners have become more health-conscious.

So many popular dog treats are under scrutiny. Treats like rawhide, and even peanut butter are not as innocent as we once thought. 

And you want to find wholesome, natural nutrition with your dog’s digestive system in mind.

Do pig ears and cow ears make the cut in this healthy dog treat revolution? 

The answer is yes! Pig ears and cow ears for dogs are a wonderful dog treat option for casual chewers. But there are some exceptions …

Keep reading to find out what to look for when you buy pig or cow ears. 

What Makes Ears A Healthy Dog Treat?

Pig and cow ears are made of cartilage. They are soft, malleable, and easy on the teeth. They’re perfect for dogs with sensitive teeth … or who prefer a gentle, leisurely chew.

The naturally chewy exterior scrapes away plaque and tartar, promoting dental health. But a healthy treat isn’t determined by what it does. 

What’s more important is … what it’s made of.

Unprocessed Ears Are Best

When buying ear treats, they look like ears! That’s no coincidence. Pig and cow ears are sold whole, without changing their form. 

This tells you it’s an unprocessed dog treat. It also means the natural flavors and nutrients are likely still intact.

Some raw dog food suppliers sell frozen raw pig or cow ears. Others are baked or smoked. 

Raw is best, if you can get it. If not, choose baked ears. You’ll lose some nutrients in the cooking but it’s better than smoked. 

Always avoid smoked ears for your dog. Any smoked meats increase cancer risk

Better Nutrition, Easier Digestion

Pig and cow ears for dogs should be an unaltered whole ingredient. They don’t need any chemicals or additives, so they usually won’t cause digestive distress. 

But some pig or cow ears may have added chemicals or preservatives. Always check with your supplier to make sure they’re completely natural. 

And if you can … buy ears from pasture raised animals. Read why pasture raised pork is better.

RELATED: Pork For Dogs: When It’s Good And When It’s Bad …

How To Safely Feed Pig and Cow Ears To Your Dog

Regardless of how natural a dog treat might be … even the healthiest foods can be harmful.

When it comes to giving your dog pig ears or cow ears, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

Shop Carefully

In 2019 the FDA issued a warning about pig ears for dogs due to salmonella risk. The products in question came from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. The ears came from various vendors and were sold at some major retail chains … including Pet Supplies Plus and Hollywood Feed. 

No dogs became ill. That’s because dogs aren’t really susceptible to salmonellosis. 

But 154 people in 34 states got sick … and 35 of them were hospitalized. The bacteria were also multi-drug resistant. 

So always ask your retailer how they make sure they’re not selling contaminated ears. 

Always wash your hands and surfaces after handling them. Teach your children to wash too – or keep them away from the treats altogether!

RELATED: Salmonella: The Bad Bacteria …

Moderation is Key

Ears are a large treat! Even with just a single ear, the calories can add up very quickly.

Plus, pork isn’t a low-fat food, and pig ears are no exception. So use extra discretion when giving pork treats.

Monitor Each Chew Session

Always monitor your dog when giving him a chew treat  … no matter how experienced a chewer he is.  Any chewable dog treat can pose a choking hazard.

Large chunks can break off and cause blockages (rawhide is notorious for this).

Or your dog may be a gulper and try to swallow the ear whole.

So … never leave your dog unsupervised with any kind of long-lasting chew.

But with these cautions in mind … it’s fine to give your dog an ear treat once in a while! 


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