I was recently in a pet store and stumbled across the dog treat aisle. There in front of me was a range of rather large brown pig ears. Instantly I wondered if an ear was an appropriate serving size for a dog? Should they eat it all in one sitting or can they eat several ears at a time? Having had a lengthy conversation with the experts in the shop and having followed up with research when I got home, I’d like to share what I found.
So, how many pig ears can I give my dog? It is generally advised to give pig ears to a dog in moderation and as a treat – one pig ear per week, at most. This is because they are high in fat and low in nutrition. Equally, the smaller the dog, the less that should be served at a time.
For instance, a smaller adult dog can be given half of a pig’s ear.
Larger adult dogs can typically be given up to one ear at a time.
And while there are certain benefits of giving your dog a pig ear; they should never become a dietary staple or be used to prevent boredom.
I know it can be hard – especially when you want to spoil your dog and you know how much they enjoy their treats!
Besides; pig ears are primarily comprised of fat!
There are actually quite a few calories in them so you really need to watch what else your dog is eating – especially on any day in that they are given!
Thankfully though, this commonly found and an inexpensive treat is certainly an option from time to time.
Let us now take a closer look at some of those other questions you may likely have; how healthy are they or can they cause diarrhea when too much is provided?
So, if you’re contemplating purchasing one, several, or have some in the cupboard stored away for your dog, be sure to keep on reading!
It’s important you know.
Are Pigs Ears Good For Dogs?
Pig ears can be a good and nutritious treat for healthy dogs if they are given in moderation. They can be a good source of protein, fat and the chewing involved can help your dog to naturally clean their teeth of plaque and tartar.
The following quote from VCA (Animal Hospitals: Veterinarians & Emergency Vets), explains the importance of these two “basic nutrients”:
To meet their energy needs, dogs have evolved to use proteins and fats as their primary energy sources
In fact, fat is very important for dogs; supporting and contributing to a range of healthy bodily functions and providing energy.
Besides, PetMD states that at least 10-15% of a dog’s diet should be comprised of fat.
And then there is the protein which dogs need up to 25% of their diet from. Besides, Purina states the importance of protein to:
- Maintain and repair cells and tissue (muscle, skin, bone etc.)
- Support the immune system,
- Make hormones, antibodies and enzymes
So, how does this tie back to pigs’ ears? Let us look at the nutrition:
Pig Ear Nutrition
So as we can see, pigs ears align quite well with the needs of a dog.
And then there is the nature and the texture of the ear itself.
Pigs ears are comprised of cartilage and skin, with little to no muscle.
It’s not like regular meat and is instead very elastic and chewy.
This makes them very difficult for a dog to break down, resulting in a lot of chewing.
This process naturally removes plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth – reducing the chances of dental disease and reducing inflammation of the gums.
They sound like the perfect food right? Not so fast…
Is Too Much Pig Ear Bad For Dogs?
There is usually too much of a good thing, and the same can be said for dogs.
There is a reason why they should only be offered as a treat, in moderation, and in limited serving sizes.
First and foremost, pig ears are not complete food.
They do not offer all the vitamins and minerals a dog requires for optimal health and wellbeing.
This needs to come from other foods; so the more pigs ear you provide, the more you are displacing these foods.
Secondly, is the fat content. While some fat is good, too much is certainly not.
We have to remember that fat will be coming from other foods in the diet, especially their main dry food or feed.
Before you know it, your dog can soon be exceeding a healthy amount of fat in their diet.
This can quickly lead to weight gain.
In larger dogs carrying more weight already, this can be particularly problematic – or prevent any weight-reducing measures from being effective.
So, it is generally advised that overweight dogs do not consume pigs’ ears altogether.
Then there is the digestive aspect of all that fat.
Consuming a lot of fat in one sitting requires an organ known as the pancreas to produce the necessary enzymes to break it all down.
Sure your dog may be okay on occasion, but if this organ is taxed for too long, or if it is naturally quite weak or undeveloped, a condition known as pancreatitis can develop.
This can result in vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and pain in your dog.
Dogs who already have been diagnosed with pancreatitis are a lot more susceptible for it to develop again, or for the condition to worsen.
So, you need to be especially careful not to offer too much of a pig ear at any one time.
In doing so there is always a risk of obstructions or blockages; whether this be in the throat, stomach or intestines.
Either way, it can be very dangerous and very painful for your dog. It would likely need immediate veterinary assistance.
How Much Pig Ear To Offer Your Dog
How much pig ear you can look to offer will vary from one dog to the next.
It really does depend on the age, size, and health status of your dog.
Consider these questions:
- What is your dogs digestion like; are they generally quite sensitive to foods?
- Does your dog normally take their time with their treats/food?
- What has your dog eaten that day?
- What are your dogs tastes and preferences?
- Does your dog routinely have their teeth cleaned/checked
However, there are still some general recommendations.
1 pig’s ear a week is usually the most you should look to feed.
But it also does depend on the size of your dog.
Generally, the larger the dog the more they can eat (as their dietary requirements – such as their fat and calorie intake is higher).
This is assuming that they do not have a sensitive stomach…
So of course, you should look to offer a small serving of pig’s ear and see how your dog responds.
You may find that your dog does very well on them, or does not at all.
There will be an element of testing and observation involved.
Nevertheless, be sure to supervise your dog when you give them a pig’s ear, and if in doubt, do not look to offer them again.
Be very careful if you do want to stop your dog from eating an ear.
Dogs become very possessive of their food (food guarding) and trying to take an ear away may result in some aggression.
You’ll need to approach it in a particular way, as set out by the ASPCA here.
Can Pigs Ears Cause Diarrhea In Dogs?
Pigs ears can cause diarrhea in dogs. This generally occurs in two contexts: too much pig ear is given at a time, or the dog consuming the pig ear has a particularly sensitive stomach.
To avoid your dog experiencing diarrhea from a pig’s ear, be sure to offer small amounts at a time. Especially at first.
You can always look to offer more pigs ear the next time, once you know how your dog responds and how they are able to digest it.
Equally, ensure that you are not offering other high-fat foods or treats on the same day that you offer a pig’s ear.
Too much fat from any source can result in a digestive upset; regardless of how robust your dog’s digestion normally is.
Are Pig Ears Good For Teething Puppies?
It is not recommended that you offer pigs ears to teething puppies. Instead, it is advised that you wait for a puppy’s adult teeth to come in.
This is because a puppy’s teeth are particularly sensitive, while also being relatively weak and more susceptible to fracturing or breaking.
Pigs ears are challenging to break down and require a lot of chewing. Generally, puppies will not have yet developed their dental strength to get through them.
Equally, beyond just their teeth, pigs’ ears are not ideal for puppies developing digestive systems.
The high-fat content is likely to result in gastrointestinal upset and discomfort.
So instead, soft puppy bites (like these best sellers on Amazon) are a much better option.
Pigs ears can certainly take their place in the diet of most healthy dogs. As a treat. In moderation.
Despite their benefits, less is certainly more.
But it does all come down to your dog.
There are instances where they may not be suitable, such as for a young puppy, an overweight dog, or one that suffers from pancreatitis.
Assuming that your dog is in robust health, one pig ear served once per week should serve them well.
But like with most foods, if you do plan on offering this treat, you do need to only seek out high-quality ears.
You need to ensure you are sourcing natural pig ears, free from chemicals or preservatives, and from a reliable and reputable place.
How they are stored and kept is of equal importance.
There have been reports of Salmonella contamination in this treat; which again would likely result in a digestive upset in your dog.
So, make sure that you do get your pig’s ears from reputable pet stores, from a butcher, or even at the vets. The risk of contamination will be a lot less.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.