A lot of dogs love pig ears. These are animal-based treats that are sourced from the ears of swine. Unfortunately, there are a few safety concerns especially related to the manufacturing process and the inherently high-fat content of such treats. However, if you’re able to choose a product that is able to address these concerns, then you’d be able to provide your hound from puppies to seniors a really delicious and hearty treat. These can serve as excellent dental chews as well. To help you identify the best pig ears for your canine friend, we’ve created a list of some of the best-selling pig ears for canine consumption in the market today.
Best Pig Ears Buying Guide and FAQ
If you are entertaining the idea of getting pig ear dog chews for your hound, you may eventually find that the process is actually not that easy. We understand the predicament of many pet parents who may have an idea about pig ears but may not be sufficient so as to make an intelligent buyer’s decision. This is the reason why we’ve prepared this guide just for you and hopefully answer some of the questions you may have about this type of dog chews.
What are Pig Ears?
From the name itself, these are doggie treats or chews that are processed from pigs’ ears. Yes, it is the same organ that we use to listen to our favorite songs as well as use to converse with our family, friends, and other individuals. Pig ears are just that – the auditory appendages of swine.
Unfortunately, like everything else, just because it is labeled as ‘pig ears’ doesn’t automatically mean that it is already safe to give to your pet. These dog chews are excellent alternatives to rawhides. And because of this, you can expect some unscrupulous entities who might take advantage of the product’s growing popularity.
What you may have is pig ear that is not really sourced from pigs. They may be made of synthetic materials and then shaped into that of a pig ear (Think meat that is actually made of vegetables!). Or it is possible that the product is indeed pig ears but its manufacturing process is so mediocre that you’d be presented with a variety of safety issues.
Pig ears should be just that – pig ears. There should be no added chemicals such as flavor enhancers, coloring, or even preservatives. These should be processed in such a way that it locks in all of the good stuff and draw out all the bad stuff.
Pig ears for dogs are mostly blanched, dried, and then dehydrated. Many are oven-baked or roasted to draw out as much moisture as possible. Smoking is also becoming common as a means of infusing more flavors and aromas into the pig ear.
Whatever the case, moisture should be removed at all cost. It is this moisture that some products simply don’t last that long because of spoilage. The fat content of pig ears must also be reduced since this part of the swine’s body is naturally filled with saturated fats. Baking and roasting can help ‘melt’ the fat and drain it away from the ear.
Pros and Cons of Pig Ears for Dogs
If you’re not sure whether pig ears are the right chews for your pet, you might want to take a look at the following pros and cons of such a dog chew.
- It’s a delicious treat that dogs really love. This is especially true for smoked versions as the smoky flavor of the pig ears greatly enhances its palatability.
- It’s composed mainly of cartilage and more tender meats as well as softer hide. This makes it easy to chew and digest even for puppies and seniors
- The cartilage in pig ears is rich in chondroitin and other minerals that can help improve the health and functioning of your dog’s joints.
- It doesn’t leave a nasty odor in your pet’s breath.
- It is rich in protein especially amino acids that are crucial for tissue-building processes. Amino acids are also easier to digest and process than whole proteins.
- It’s a great and flavorful way to clean your dog’s teeth and keep its gums relatively healthy.
- This is not advisable for power chewers as they can literally consume it within seconds, making it a very expensive treat.
- It is very high in saturated fat. If the processing did not remove as much fat as possible, then you’re essentially increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in your dog. As much as possible choose pig ears that have guaranteed fat content of less than 20%. Otherwise, you need to compensate by reducing the fat content in its dog food.
- There can be indigestion and diarrhea in cases where the pig ear contains too much fat.
- Power chewers can also chew off large chunks of the pig ear, potentially blocking the esophagus or other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
- If not processed properly, you risk introducing salmonella to your dog. There was a time in 2011 when 6 pet food manufacturers voluntarily recalled their pig ear treats because of concerns of salmonella contamination.
Things to Consider When Buying Pig Ears
In choosing the best pig ears for your dog, there are a few things you really need to consider. Here are some of them.
- Natural pig ear
Be very careful when you buy pig ears as there are many products that say they are pig ears, but are in fact pig hide that have been trimmed in the shape of swine ears. While these are still part of the pig, they have a very different composition when compared to natural pig ear dog chews. There are also products that come in strips. These are okay as long as the source material is still natural pig ear.
- No synthetic or additional ingredients
There should be no added ingredients or chemicals in the production of the pig ear dog treats. Some may come with smoky hickory flavor, but you’d have to check if the flavoring is the result of natural smoking process or the infusion of an artificial flavoring. If it is the latter, then check another brand. It is important to always check the label. If there’s no ingredient list, attempt to contact the manufacturer and ask for information. If you cannot get any, you’d be better off with one that can provide you the information you need.
- Made in the USA
We may be biased, but US manufacturers have to adhere to very strict standards set by both the FDA and the USDA. These are two organizations that you need to seek in every label of dog treat that you intend to buy. We don’t have any issues with China, but their manufacturing processes have been put in negative light for many years. Unless they can get their act together and ensure safer and higher quality products, we’d strongly recommend sticking with US-made products.
Q: Are they safe for puppies?
A: The short answer is ‘yes, pig ears are generally safe for puppies. They are more tender than other types of dog chews. However, since these are naturally high in fat moderation should be observed, lest you risk giving your young hound diarrhoea. Also, since pet ears are more tender than rawhide, they can be easily broken down into bits especially by young power chewers. As such, it is imperative that you supervise your puppy whenever giving pig ears.
Q: Are pig ears safer than rawhide?
A: Pig ears are usually taken as great alternatives to rawhide, but is it generally safer? Rawhide is made from the inner layer of the skin or hide of cattle. As such they are still considered as animal-based treats. Unfortunately, this is where issues about safety come in. One of the major issues being thrown against pig ears is that it may be contaminated with salmonella. Unfortunately, the same is true with rawhide. There have also been reports of salmonella contamination in certain rawhide products.
Another issue is that of esophageal and intestinal obstruction brought about by larger bits of dog chews breaking off and getting lodged in the dog’s esophagus or small intestines. There is also the issue of diarrhea. These concerns are present in both pig ears and rawhide so one can never really pinpoint which is safer.
Are pigs safer than rawhide? Not necessarily. But if you consider the more tender nature of pig ears compared to beef rawhide, then perhaps the main issue here will be in the digestibility of the dog chews. And for that we can say that pig ears are more easily-digested than rawhide.
Q: Why choose animal ears as treats for dogs over other options?
A: One of the reasons why animal ears are preferred over other options is that this part of the animal’s body is rich in proteins and amino acids. More importantly it is rich in chondroitin, a natural substance that is found in cartilage tissues. And since the ear is made up mostly of cartilage, this is one of the most distinct advantages over other types. For instance, rawhide doesn’t contain chondroitin for the simple fact that it is essentially made up of collagen and other tissues of the skin. Animal ears also have these substances so there really isn’t something that other options may have as an advantage over animal ears.
Buying pig ears to give to your pet dog requires choosing only those produced by reputable manufacturers so you’ll know it is safe to give to your hound. You can also start by picking any one of the best pig ears we’ve listed in this article to give you a headstart.