Can Pig Ears Cause Blockage

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Can pig ears cause blockage? I recently read an article on the dangers of pig ears. One of the risks listed was pig ears could cause blockages, both in a dog’s digestive system and in their throat. As someone who is always looking for the best ways to treat my dog, I thought it would be worthwhile to investigate this topic further.

So, can pig ears cause blockage in dogs? Yes, pig ears can cause blockages. They can happen either by obstructing the digestive tract or by blocking your dog’s airway, thus becoming a choking hazard. While pig ears may seem like a great chew treat to give your dog, they are dangerous and have more negatives associated with them than they do positives.

can pig ears cause blockage in dogs

What is Blockage?

The hazard of blockage doesn’t come from giving your dog a full pig ear. The main reason blockage happens is because dogs chow down on pig ears. Small pieces can be broken off and swallowed, which causes the problem of blockage.

As your dog chows down, bits and pieces of a pig ear break off, and a much too large piece can be swallowed. This piece has the potential to get lodged in your dog’s throat and poses a risk for choking or intestinal blockage. Chunks of pig ears don’t digest. This means as the junk passes through your dog’s intestines, a blockage is more than likely to occur.

It is even more hazardous to give a puppy a pig ear, although the end result will be the same for a puppy or small dog, as it will be for a much larger breed.

Intestinal blockages are severe and have the potential to lead to death. If a blockage does occur, your dog may need emergency surgery to save his life.

The best tactic to avoid having a blockage occur is not giving these treats to your dogs. Sure, they may love the taste and wag their tails in excitement when they see you pull out a new ear, but the dangers and risks are too serious.

If you absolutely insist on giving your dog a pig ear, then make sure they are supervised at all times. When you see a pig ear becoming small enough to be a real danger, take it away from your dog. Don’t let them keep chewing until the entire thing is gone.

Symptoms of Blockage

If your dog happens to get a blockage due to a pig ear (or something else), you will likely notice some of the following symptoms:

  • Your dog may drool
  • Your dog may seem overly tired 
  • Your dog may vomit
  • Your dog may smack his lips
  • Your dog may have a loss of appetite
  • Your dog may have abdominal pain
  • Your dog may have difficulty going to the bathroom

If you find your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms and has had a pig ear or some other form of chew recently, call your veterinarian. If a blockage is left untreated, your dog can experience fatal complications, so it is always better to error on the side of caution.

Some specific areas of blockage to watch out for are:

  • Symptoms of intestinal blockage do not always appear right away. Sometimes they can take between 10 to 24 hours, as the blockage must move through the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Symptoms of esophagus blockage tend to show up almost immediately. Your dog will most likely begin licking their lips, swallowing a lot, and may throw up right after being fed.
  • Symptoms of stomach blockage will cause food to be unable to make it to the intestinal tract. This will usually result in vomiting.
  • Symptoms of small intestine blockage occur when the object gets stuck in the bends of the small intestine. This causes gas to accumulate and the intestine to become distended. If this happens, the blood supply will be cut off, and tissues can start to die off. If this happens to your dog, you will see vomiting, abdominal pain, a distended abdomen, fever, and shock. This is one of the most severe blockages and can result in death if it isn’t treated.

Other Dangers of Pig Ears

Besides blockages, pig ears come with a host of other issues.

They have a very high-fat content which can be a big problem for obese dogs. Feeding overweight dogs high-fat treats puts them at a higher risk of developing pancreatitis, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and potential liver failure. Even if your dog is active and at the perfect weight, high-fat treats should be given very sparingly.

Pig ears are also known to cause upset stomachs not related to blockages. If your dog is known to have a sensitive stomach, feeding them a pig ear that is greasy and full of fat could set their stomach issues off and cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Pig ears also have the potential of being carriers of Salmonella. Not only can your dog get Salmonella from ingesting a contaminated pig ear, but so can you. If you insist on feeding your dog pig ears, be sure to wash your hands very carefully and be on the lookout for an upset stomach for both you and your dog.

There are dangerous chemicals that have also been found to be used on pig ears as a means of conserving them. You never really know what preservatives and additives are actually in the pig ears you are giving your dog.

Best Alternatives to Pig Ears

If you have been giving your dog pig ears and have decided to switch to another form of chew, there are some great alternatives with similar benefits. When it comes to providing your dog with something to sink their teeth into, you will find:

  • They are mentally stimulated 
  • They will eat your furniture and shoes a lot less!
  • Your dog will have healthier teeth and gums
  • Certain chew toys can be long-lasting

Solid rubber chew toys are one great alternative to pig ears. They keep your dog entertained for hours and, if your dog isn’t an intense chewer, they won’t need replacing very often.

Treats like veggie chews and chews designed for the oral health of your dog are great too.  Not only do they keep your dog entertained, but they can also control tartar build-up and keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy.

Finally, tennis balls can be one of the simplest chew devices you can get, but it acts just like all the others – hours of fun and gives the jaw muscles a good workout.

Whatever alternative chew toy you choose, just make sure they are safe for your dog and won’t cause any awful blockages or bacterial illnesses like Salmonella.

Related Questions

Can I give my dog bully sticks?

Yes. Bully sticks are actually a great alternative to the pig ear. Not only are they a treat, but they last a lot longer than a dog biscuit does. This provides your dog with chew time that is essential in keeping them healthy and happy.

Can I give my dog ice cubes?

Yes. Ice cubes can definitely be used to keep your dog entertained while cooling them off. However, giving them full ice cubes can be damaging to their teeth. The best option is to break the ice cubes up into small pieces or even shavings.

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