If you have a furry friend, chances are you’ve seen pig ear chews for dogs at your local pet store or online. They’re becoming more and more popular these days, but what exactly is the deal with them and are pig ears good for dogs?
First things first, most pig ears are single-ingredient dog chews. That means you won’t find any artificial flavors, preservatives, colors, grains or anything else on the ingredient list. There’s literally only pig ear in this dog chew, unless you buy a smoked pig ear, which can have downsides we’ll cover later in this post.
But non-smoked pig ears are high in protein, moderate in fat, and consist mostly of soft cartilage and skin. That also means they’re naturally rich in glucosamine and chondroitin, as those are the building blocks of cartilage. And as far as pig ear calories go, they pack a decent punch with 100-200 calories per ear, depending on its size.
So, are pig ears good for dogs? The short answer is yes! Here are six benefits of pig ears for dogs to consider:
1. Rawhide alternative: Bleached rawhide is treated with chemicals and is notorious for causing blockages because it’s not fully digestible. Thankfully, pig ears are not rawhide, not even close! That lack of chemicals makes pig ears fully digestible and turns them into a safe rawhide alternative dog chew.
2. Supports oral hygiene: Pig ears help scrape away tartar and plaque from dog teeth. Additionally, they exercise your dog’s jaw muscles and massage their gums. That’s particularly beneficial for teething puppies, whose gum lines hurt as their adult teeth are starting to come in.
3. Prevents stress and boredom: Did you know that chewing is a natural stress-relieving and entertaining behavior for dogs? That’s why it’s important to encourage regular chewing sessions along with appropriate dog chews in your pups, regardless of their age. So next time your puppy tries to go for a chew session on your woodwork, furniture, or couch, offer them a pig ear instead! Chewing can also be really beneficial in dogs who are scared of thunder and fireworks sounds.
4. Helps support joint health: Pig ears help support your dog’s joints because they’re naturally rich in glucosamine and chondroitin, the building blocks of cartilage. That’s why it’s a good idea to offer your pup pig ears as a joint preventative on a somewhat regular basis.
5. Promotes healthy muscles and skin: Pig ear treats are naturally rich in protein with 20-30 grams of protein per ear. Protein is important to build and maintain your dog’s skin & muscle tissue as well as their skeletal health.
6. Great for dogs with food sensitivities: Pork ears are also a great dog chew for dogs with allergies or sensitivities to grains and starches, as well as common proteins like chicken, beef or fish. If your pup doesn’t do well with Milkbone treats, chicken feet, bully sticks or salmon skins, try offering them a pig ear instead!
While pig ears have many benefits for dogs, it’s worth noting that they’re not a long-lasting chew for power chewers. Remember that they mostly consist of soft cartilage, not hard bone like antlers, for example. And, since pig ears have quite a few calories, they’re also not a great dog chew for overweight dogs who don’t exercise regularly.
So, how many pig ears can you give your puppy? It really depends on the size of the pig ear as well as on your dog’s size and activity level. Generally speaking, smaller pig ears or half pig ears are a better size for puppies and small to medium-sized dogs. Whole pig ears as well as jumbo pig ears are best for large to extra-large dogs.
That said, if your pup’s at their target body weight and not chubby or obese, you should be able to give them a pig ear once a week. But your pup’s activity level and life stage plays an important role in the amount of pig ears they can have, too.
When it comes to leaving your dog alone with a pig ear, it’s safer not to. Even if your dog is a seasoned chewer, there’s always a small chance they may choke on it for whatever reason. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to supervise your pups when they’re busy with any type of chew, regardless of whether it’s an antler, a bully stick, or a pig ear. And, it’s not a good idea to leave your pup home alone in their crate with a pig ear, as a filled and frozen KONG dog toy is a much better crate companion when you’re not home to supervise.
Finally, when it comes to baked or smoked pig ears, the less processed a dog chew is, the healthier and better it is for them. Smoked pig ears undergo an additional level of treatment and contain unnatural, chemical flavors, so it’s generally best to choose baked or slow-roasted pig ears instead.
The chance that healthy dogs contract salmonella from pig ear treats or any other chews is slim to none. That’s because a dog’s stomach is very acidic and their digestive system is very short. Because of that, dogs are well-equipped to handle bacteria like salmonella.
In conclusion, pig ears are an excellent choice for dog chews due to their many benefits, but it’s important to be mindful of your pup’s size, activity level, and overall health before giving them too many. It’s also essential to supervise your pup while they’re chewing to minimize the risk of choking or other accidents. By offering them a pig ear instead of your furniture, you’re helping to keep them healthy, happy, and entertained.