Pig ears might be your dog’s favorite snack, but are pig ears healthy for humans to eat? Could there be potential health issues that might arise just because you might have come in contact with this famous dog chew?
So, Are Pig Ears Healthy for Humans?
No, pig ears are not the safest option for you (or your dog). For many health-related reasons, it is strongly advised that humans (or dogs) do not consume or touch their eyes or mouth without washing their hands after touching pig ears. The most famous health issue is the one caused by salmonella bacteria strain, which can cause a wide range of digestive issues, but there are other problems that come with using pig ears.
Even though pig ears are famous for how nutritious they can be if consumed in the right amounts, they can also be detrimental to the human’s health, causing issues on top of digestive ones caused by salmonella. So what exactly are the concerns regarding these seemingly harmless dog treats for humans?
The Harm Of Pig Ears On Humans: Salmonella
Surprisingly, pig ears is a popular ingredient in many parts of the world. As such, pig ears are not rare ingredients when it comes to cuisine.
However, it is not the ingredient itself that is dangerous.
If you look into how pig ears are popular for various dishes, they go through a process of boiling or some form of making sure that the food is sanitized. Unfortunately, the same is not applied to dog treats. Because they are produced in factories, pig ears for dogs are not made under the same sanitary conditions.
One of the most concerning forms of sickness caused by pig ears is one that is caused by salmonella. Contracting this strand can lead to digestive issues such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and fever.
What is scary about this bacteria, first of all, is that it can be found in your system even though you have not consumed pig ears. This means that if you touched dried pig ears while you were providing the treat to your dog, you can not touch your face (eyes or mouth) because the bacteria can then enter your system and cause unpleasant health problems.
At first glance, it does not seem all that bad: just wash your hands after you give your dog the treat it deserves.
Unfortunately, it is not all that simple.
The problem is, your dog is not immune to salmonella; your dog can also get sick after consuming pig ears that contain these bacteria.
If you are not careful, both you and your dog can get sick, which means it might be difficult for you to give your dog immediate medical care that it needs: though salmonella infections are not very deadly, they can be devastating in ruining your dog and your lifestyle patterns.
Even after the illness, both humans and dogs become much more lethargic than they used to be. This leads to laziness and an imbalance in eating routine, which leads to a decrease in overall health.
Even though humans would not consume the pig ears produced for dogs, just being around them can be very dangerous, especially for those with a weak immune system.
Due to various bacteria strains that may linger on pig ears because of the relatively less sanitary production conditions, humans can get very sick from dog ears. Thus, pig ears are an unhealthy snack whether they are consumed or not by humans.
Effect Of Pig Ears On Dogs: Benefits
Although pig ears can seem very harmful for humans, the same is not applied when it comes to their effect on dogs. In fact, there are many benefits that come with pig ears.
1. Nutritional Advantages
First of all, pig ears are very high in fat levels.
Though there is a negative connotation behind this substance, when consumed in the right amounts, they can provide lots of energy for your dog. In fact, dogs require a certain percentage of their dishes to be high in fat levels.
All things in moderation!
The most important reason as to why fat is so important for your dog is because it is also great for making sure its hormone levels are stable.
Because fat is required for your dog to produce essential hormones, it is healthy for your dog to consume controlled amounts of fat.
2. Psychological Benefits
Pig ears might not be the best for your health, but it is certainly great for your dog’s psychological health.
Usually, chew toys provide emotional comfort as they induce chewing motions for your dog, which is equivalent to a human baby sucking on its thumb or pacifier to calm him or herself.
Likewise, pig ears are very chewy:
it takes dogs about five to ten minutes to chew them up and swallow them completely. During that time, your dog can relieve stress levels that it might have gained because of not being able to stay active.
This makes pig ears an especially attractive product for those that live in small spaces in which dogs can not run around, which is another way most dogs like to relieve stress.
As it is for humans, relieving stress is essential for dogs.
If your dog is too stressed out, it might show signs of lethargy.
It might have a very weak appetite, which means it won’t be able to meet the calories necessary for your dog to stay as active as it has to.
Dangers Of Pig Ears for Dogs
Pig ears can also be very dangerous for dogs for various reasons.
Including the fact that it is a safety hazard for humans and dogs for the risk of consumers contracting salmonella, pig ears can be detrimental to your dog’s respiratory system and, in worse cases, induce damage in its mouth tissue.
Pig ears can be a choking hazard because they are designed to be hard to swallow.
If your dog tries, in vain, to swallow the chew treat, it will inevitably put itself at risk of choking on the pig ear. The problem with pig ears is that, unlike other dog chew treats, they tend to be oddly-shaped and very rough on the sides.
Because of how rough the sides are and the awkward geometry, pig ears are very difficult to extract from your dog’s throat once it gets lodged.
In fact, the Heimlich maneuver, the famous maneuver through which we can remove lodged objects from one’s throat, might not be very useful in this case.
Therefore, whenever you see that your dog is choking, we strongly recommend that you immediately take it to the veterinarian or a place where your dog can get immediate, professional medical attention. In the meantime, you may perform the Heimlich maneuver, but it is very likely that you might not succeed.
2. Gum Line/Oral Damage
Oral damage and cuts or scratches along the gum line is another negative aspect of pig ears that might be imposed on your dog.
Though scratches may not seem like a big deal, it can be very dangerous because it poses a risk of bacterial infection.
Oral infections hinder your dog’s ability to chew, which then affects how well it digests its food. Because of this series of potential harm done by pig ears, we recommend that you pay special attention to your dog’s oral health before providing pig ears.
So should you be providing pig ears to your dog, considering the potential harm on you and your dog?
We believe that, though the ultimate decision is up to you, there are far better alternatives to pig ears. Until the production conditions get better, providing pig ears for your dog poses an unnecessary risk that dogs can avoid with other chew toys or treats that are known to be safer and more healthy.
Yes, they can be. However, this is only under the assumption that the pig ear product came from reliable, sanitary conditions and that your dog has oral tissue that is strong enough to withstand the cuts and abrasions that inevitably occur from chewing on something so rough.
Yes. The main building block for pig ears is fat, which means providing too much of them might lead to your dog gaining unwanted weight. Practice moderation.
Yes, but not the pig ear snacks meant for dogs. People only eat pig ears that have been processed under sanitary conditions and take extra measures to kill off any remaining bacteria, which is why they are safer than pig ears for dogs. Therefore, unless your dog’s treat undergoes the same sanitation process as most pig ear dishes do, we strongly recommend that you stay away from them.
Somewhat; pig ears are assumed to be digestible because of the fact that it is an animal product. However, too many of them might lead to indigestion, so be careful!