Pig ears are one of the most popular dog snacks as they provide dogs with the irreplaceable scent of meat that other chew toys/treats can not. However, can puppies have pig ears? You most likely have seen many adult dogs chew on pig ears as an edible toy, but are they safe for younger dogs?
So, can puppies have pig ears? Yes, puppies can have pig ears. However, we recommend that you wait until your puppy is at least six months old due to health concerns. It’s worth noting that even after six months, there are risks that you and your dog might have to take when consuming pig ears.
So what kind of safety concerns lie with puppies having pig ears, to be more specific? Do these safety concerns go away once they become adults? If not, what kind of alternatives do you have in order to help your dog relieve its anxiety by giving it something healthy to chew on?
3 Safety Concerns With Pig Ears for Puppies
The thing about pig ears is that though they are made to be completely edible, there are other aspects of it that could make the treat potentially poisonous for the puppy.
Along with harmful bacteria strains, there are physical concerns such as it being a choking hazard and other oral issues that come with pig ears.
Unfortunately, pig ears are not produced in the most sanitary conditions. More often than not, it is, in fact, considered to be a waste in the process of slaughtering pigs.
Because humans tend to throw them away, pig ears can be found with all the additional organs that butchers would not sell at the butcher shop.
For this reason, even if these pig ears are dried, if they are not sanitized properly, there are various harmful bacteria that are growing and populating on these pig ears.
Now, these bacteria can prove to be very dangerous for both humans and dogs because, as we have mentioned, there are so many different pathogens that cause sicknesses in the insides of a pig. The most notable one and the most common one is salmonella.
In fact, this dangerous characteristic of pig ears was the cause of a recent salmonella outbreak in 2019 during which the government made an official statement telling all pig ear producers to temporarily stop producing them and making the consumers aware of the risks of providing pig ears to their dogs.
The main problem with salmonella is that though it does not kill, it can cause sicknesses in both humans and dogs. This means that if the human gets sick along with the dog, then the dog can not receive proper care, especially if the owner is the only one that the dog knows and, therefore, can trust.
Luckily, however, salmonella tends to be an easier fix for humans because there have been many different ways that have developed over time to cure or alleviate salmonella infection symptoms.
On the other hand, this is not necessarily true for dogs. It is crucial that you are careful of bacteria, especially when you are feeding pig ears to puppies with weak immune systems.
2. Choking Hazard
Although this applies to many other chew treats/toys that are available on the market today, this fact is especially true for puppies and pig ears.
Just like beef jerky, pig ears are made out of dried meat. This means that the treat itself is a lot more chewy and, therefore, more difficult to break down with the teeth before swallowing it.
Obviously, this was the point of the product:
You want to have dogs chewing on the treat for as long as possible before they go onto soften it up enough to be able to swallow it without a problem. Unfortunately, dogs do not think the same way when they are chewing on pig ears.
The scent and taste of meat only encourages them to hastily gobble up the consumable chew toy, just like candy for us. Although the process of swallowing it after breaking it apart is not the pleasant part, we are still inclined to swallow them as soon as possible because of how sweet it tastes.
The same applies for dogs and pig ears.
However, pig ears tend to be much more dangerous as they are brittle, hard, and difficult to chew. This means that if it ends up lodged in your dog’s throat, it will be very challenging for you to dislodge it without professional help.
However, you have to try until help arrives. What you can do in such cases is to perform the Heimlich maneuver:
- First, put one fist on your dog’s stomach region and have the other hand wrap the fist around as you hold the dog from behind.
- Next, pull in so that the fist pushes into your dog’s stomach and aim it slightly upwards, as if to squeeze something out through your dog’s mouth.
- If this does not work, the next step is to flip your dog over by holding it by its hind legs and attempting to shake the object out of your puppy’s throat.
Choking hazards apply for all dogs, but because of how hard and brittle pig ears are as a chew treat and how small the throat of puppies are, we really do not recommend that you feed your puppies pig ears.
3. Cuts And Scratches
Compared to the other health concerns listed above, this health concern is relatively minor. As your puppy chews on pig ears, because of how brittle the treats are at times, its gum lines can be severely agitated, to the point where there are cuts and scratches.
Usually, this would not be much different from a normal scratch on your dog’s legs, but for puppies, these injuries can be fatal.
Not because it excessively bleeds, but because of its weak immune system and high risk of bacterial infection.
Your dog’s mouth is one of the regions in which the largest amount of bacteria exist.
Now, this does not necessarily mean that your dog’s mouth is bad, but it can contain pathogens that should not be in your dog’s bloodstream. In such cases, infections may arise. Luckily, most infections are not fatal; they are only minor inconveniences.
However, you still do not want your best friend to suffer from a cut in its mouth! This problem might get better when your puppy becomes an adult, but right now, its gum lines are too soft. You would be risking it of bacterial infection, so please be careful.
Does It Get Better Over Time?
For bacterial issues, no, not really. However, for oral and choking concerns, yes.
In terms of pathogens, it is true that your dog’s immune system improves as it ages, but even the healthiest dogs can suffer from salmonella because it is such a powerful bacteria that can cause severe illnesses.
Luckily, however, oral issues get better over time as your dog’s gum lines become tougher as it ages. Once it is an adult dog, you do not really have to worry about cuts forming in your dog’s mouth. The same applies for choking concerns, but this is something that you still have to be careful of.
It all depends on the product: if your dog is chewing on a pig ear that is too large to swallow or small enough to swallow safely, then your adult dog should be fine.
However, in general, adult dogs tend to be safer when it comes to pig ears because they have wider throats. Therefore, this safety concern really gets better when your puppy is older, so wait till then!
Now, you might be worried that your dog and you might suffer from salmonella as that part doesn’t really get better when your dog is older.
If such is the case, we do not recommend that you provide your puppies/dogs with pig ears. Instead, you can look into a healthier, safer alternative: Greenies.
Although like all dog chew treats Greenies can serve as a choking hazard, in general, it is very safe and nutritious.
Instead of risking your dog contracting illnesses due to pig ears, Greenies can provide dental care as well as mental relief as it is chewy and soft. Moreover, it won’t agitate your dog’s gum lines, which is a bonus that pig ears do not have!
Also, because of how there are many different types of Greenies products that are available for puppies, it can be a great chew treat for puppies too.
First of all, we don’t recommend you provide pig ears to your puppies all together. However, if we had to give you a number, we recommend only one pig ear treat per week.
As a chew toy, yes. As a nutritious treat, no. There are too many safety concerns with pig ears, especially for puppies.
If you are simply looking for something your dog can chew on, invest in chew toys. They are sustainable and do not serve as a choking hazard as most chew treats do.
Your dog shouldn’t. A pig ear is very high in fat levels, so too much of it can lead to diarrhea and digestive problems, not to mention the increased risk of contracting illnesses.