Pig ears are often used as treats for pets. Although they are a tasty snack, pig ears can lead to several problems for dogs that you should be aware of. Pig ears when dried are a crunchy treat for a dog and they can also remove food residue and plaque from a dog’s teeth.
Pig ears have a high percentage of fat which can lead to obesity if the treats are administered in excess over a long period of time. Dogs need a healthy amount of fat in their diet (up to 20% of their daily diet), because the fat gets deposited and will be used when the dog requires extra energy. However, if there is excess fat, the dog will become obese and its body will in turn use only some of the fat deposits, leaving the dog with a surplus of unhealthy fat. An overweight dog may be prone to diabetes, heart disease or premature death. In addition, the excess fat can cause pancreas irritation or pancreatitis leading to severe abdominal pain.
Another disadvantage of pig ears is the fact that some dogs with more sensitive stomachs cannot tolerate pig ears and this may lead to vomiting or diarrhea. In addition, if not chewed properly, the pig ears may cause choking or intestinal obstruction.
Pig ears sometimes are infected with Salmonella bacteria which can cause gastrointestinal infection. The infection becomes evident by the onset of abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Make sure the pig ears are from a company or source you can trust. Typically, pig ears require heat treatment for half a day to be sure that all potential bacteria is eliminated.
Salmonella infection is a disease that can be transmitted from dogs or pigs to humans, so you need to be careful when handling a dog’s feces. Also, be sure to wash your hands after handling the pig ears, as you can contract the bacteria just from touching the infected pig ears.
Pig ears are sold in most pet stores, or as an alternative, you can buy pig ears from a butcher and prepare the treats yourself. If you choose to buy the pig ears raw you’ll need to boil them for one hour and then smoke them for up to six hours. Not an easy task unless you have your own smoker equipment.
Giving your dog pig ears can be a great way of rewarding it for obeying your commands, but you need to make sure these treats are not infected with Salmonella bacteria and that your dog can tolerate the treats. Please consider the possibility that pig ears can be dangerous to your pet and make your decision based upon these facts.
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