Pig ear treats for canine consumption are essentially the entire pig’s ear dried and treated with preservatives. Some are sold with no additional flavors, while others are smoked with hickory or bacon. Most dogs like them, but there are other considerations when deciding whether to feed them to your pooch.
High Fat Content
The high fat content of pig ear treats is one of the tasty reasons dogs love to chew on them. It's also a reason why they shouldn't do so too often, according to the Vet Info website. A cap of 20 percent total dietary fat is recommended for canines to maintain a healthy weight. Most commercially-produced pig ear treats exceed that amount.
From March 9, 2011 to June 3, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration supported voluntary and self-imposed product recalls of pig ear treats from six different pet food manufacturers due to concerns regarding salmonella. The Breed Trust website considered these moves "alarming" and listed contact information as well as product specifications for each manufacturer. Salmonella is a food-borne bacteria best known for causing diarrhea. Raw foods such as pig ears that have not been fully processed often carry salmonella. It is killed through heating, which is how pig ears are prepared for canine consumption. The risk for salmonella exposure exists when the pig ears are not appropriately heated to bacteria-killing temperatures.
Pig ears cause trouble for canine digestive systems in a couple of ways. The first is that the high fat content can be difficult to digest. A dog with a sensitive stomach can end up experiencing nausea. The size of the pig's ear treat can be challenging for a smaller dog to nibble down to a manageable swallowing and digestible size. Large chunks of pig's ear can get lodged in the esophagus causing blockages and choking. Further down the digestive tract, bits of pig ear that remain intact due to incomplete digestion have also caused blockages in the small intestines.
Receiving accurate information regarding any recalls of pet foods is an important step in choosing what to feed your canine companion. The Humane Society of the United States and the Food and Drug Administration of the federal Health and Human Services each maintain online lists detailing mandatory and voluntary recalls of pet food, including pig ear treats for dogs.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Vet Info: Pig Ears for Dogs
- WedMD: Dogs: Dogs Dental Treats
- Canada's Guide to Dogs: Pigs' Ears Not Recommended For Dogs
- United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Fact Sheets: Foodborne Illnesses & Diseases: Salmonella Questions and Answers
- The Humane Society of the United States: Pet Food Safety
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.