Pig ears aren’t particularly tasty for people, but they often are for puppies! Having doubts? Well, listen closely. In this article, we’ll share some thoughts on whether you should give your puppy pigs ears, if pigs ears are safe for puppies, their possible health benefits and, if we’ve convinced you, how to introduce them to your puppy. It might be an acquired taste; it’s not like they’re black angus.

Chewing is a natural thing for puppies. You’ll quickly learn that chewing is quite the thing in puppy development from the holes in your shoes. Apart from the lesson plans we give you at Zigzag, our team of puppy coaches are always on hand for a call. They understand the highs and lows of puppy parenthood and will be happy to help you along the way. Eager for advice? Download the Zigzag puppy training app and start your puppy training journey today.

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Should I give my puppy pigs ears?

Pig ears for puppies make a great recreational chew. Puppies need to chew a lot when they’re in their initial teething stage, cutting their adult teeth, and later on when their brain can’t seem to think of anything but chew chew chew. 

As bouncy, curious creatures that need to exercise their brains constantly, pig ears are also great boredom busters. They help keep your puppy entertained and well away from gnawing at your sofa. 

The only thing to consider about pig ears are the calories. Yep, you still have to think about them, even with puppies. Pig ears do have a high-calorie content, so if you feed them regularly you should adjust your puppy’s food amount accordingly. 

Are pig ears safe for puppies?

Pig ears for puppies are safe, but like all good things, they should be given in moderation. There are a few things to watch out for when you give your puppy a pig’s ear

  • Some puppies try to consume pig ears too quickly. They nibble it down just so they’re enough to squeeze down their throats and swallow it whole. Let’s not tempt fate, but this can present a choking hazard, or end up in a puddle of puppy sick. Keep an eye on your puppy when eating pig ears to check how they’re chewing. 
  • Choose whole pigs’ ears over pig ear strips. Although it’s tempting to buy smaller chews for your puppy, having a whole ear will stop your puppy from swallowing large chunks..
  • Avoid smoked or overly processed pig ears. The less chemicals and additives the better.
  • Check the pig’s ear isn’t too hard, as being too hard can hurt a puppy’s mouth or break their teeth. No one has time for the dog dentist.  
  • Pigs ears for puppies can sometimes just be too good.Sometimes, if your puppy values them too much, it could lead them to resource guard and turn into Gollum when you go near it. Be sure to do lots of retrieve and swap work so your puppy will happily give them up if you need them to. You’ll be able to tell by their body language. If they freeze or go stiff, it means they’re not comfortable with you coming close. 
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Health benefits of pig ears for puppies

As a natural by-product of the pork industry pigs ears have a multitude of benefits for puppies:

Pig ears are good for puppy growth and health

Pig ears are great for growing puppies as they are high in protein which helps to build muscle, keep a luscious coat, and repair and create new skin cells.

Pig ears help with heart health

Pig ears have high levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which help to regulate cholesterol and ensure a healthy, beating heart. That’s gotta help with their zoomies.

Pig ears for joint health

Chondroitin and glucosamine are both found in pig ears. Heard about them before? These minerals are an essential part of puppy nutrition helping your pup grow and maintain healthy joints. 

Pig ears are good for puppies’ dental health

Chews help a whole lot for your pup’s dental health. Pig ears can actually help clean their teeth due to their soft texture (differently to bones or rawhide), and are much safer as they won’t risk breaking their teeth on them.

Puppies enjoy chewing pig ears

They just do. Puppies tend to love pig ears as they taste and feel so good. Dogs need recreational chews since chewing releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the brain. There’s no doubt pig ears will make them happy.

Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

How do I introduce pig ears to my puppy?

When giving your puppy pig ears, make sure you can supervise them at first; especially when you don’t know how they’ll react to them.

Here’s how you can introduce your puppy to pig ears nice and easy:

  • Hold the chew and allow your puppy to chew on it a while before you let go of it. Some pups will take the chew off to their bed. This is totally normal. They might chew it there, or save it for later – just like when you take snacks up to your bedroom. Some puppies will try and bury it; you might see them do it with their toys too.
  • Don’t snatch the pig ear away from your puppy! If they haven’t had one before, they might see them as ‘their precious’ and be a bit overprotective. If your puppy freezes up or appears scared when you get near them while they’re chewing, you’ll want to work on preventing resource guarding so they understand that you’re coming toward them is something pleasant and nothing to be afraid of.
  • Lastly, not all puppies like pigs’ ears. Crazy, right? Not really actually, it’s quite simply that all dogs have different tastes! There are some alternatives you could try cow or buffalo ears which tend to be less greasy as they’re lower in fat. There’s also rabbit ears which are smaller and softer, or bully sticks and pizzles which tend to be a bit harder. You can also consider some raw meaty bones (not cooked bones or rawhide) or dental chews for puppies. Bet you didn’t know there was such a market for ears.

Hear, hear, you’ve made it to the end. We hope we’ve done a good job educating you on the wonders of pig ears and you’re feeling good about feeding them to your puppy. If you’d rather stick to chew toys like the classic Kong, it’s perfectly fine as well.  

Now that you’re here, you might also enjoy reading some of our other articles on puppy training and health, such as how to clip a puppy’s nails or how to teach a puppy to come. 

For lots more great puppy content and lessons in essential life skills, leadwalking, socialisation and more, download the Zigzag puppy training app today and get started on your puppy training journey. Get in touch with our puppy experts too; they love hearing about your puppy and they’ll help you out with any questions you have at any time 7 days a week. I know, but I promise, they’re just that good.