Pups for preservative-free pig's ears! We partnered with Link AKC to share a recipe for these 2-ingredient dog treats (no icky stuff!).
My puppy, Roux, loves to chew.
So far, in the 5 months we've had him, he’s gone through a pair of my running shoes, the cord for my electric mattress pad (it was not turned on, he was fine), a number of our daughter’s stuffed animals, and a very visible corner of our brand new couch. But that’s what puppies do, and he is very cute, so I forgive him, but I also try to provide him with appropriate things to chew, like toys and the occasional “tough” treat, like rawhides or pig’s ear treats.
The only thing is, if you've ever purchased pig's ear treats for your dog, you know that they can be surprisingly expensive—not to mention packed with preservatives and other ingredients that your dog doesn't need.
Luckily, making them at home is easy and cheap (and unknown ingredient-free). Just head to your local butcher shop (or pick up the phone) and ask about getting your hands on pigs’ ears (or skin! you follow the exact same process). My butcher didn’t bat an eye when I asked, though I did at how low the cost was: At my local shop, pigs’ ears were under $5 a pound, and the skin was even cheaper.
The pig's ears I got from my butcher were clean and almost entirely hair-free, which makes prep really easy. I used (sharp!) kitchen scissors to cut each ear into about three pieces (which might vary depending on your dog). Keep in mind that they'll shrink after cooking, but unless you have a very large dog, you’ll likely want to cut them down into smaller pieces. Lightly coat each pig's ear with vegetable oil, using your hands or a brush.
Then choose your own (cooking) adventure: Do you want to use your oven or your smoker? (A dehydrator would work too!)
If using your oven: Heat oven to its lowest temperature. (This will likely be between 175° and 225° F.) Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spread out the pig's ears, and bake until thoroughly dried out—anywhere between 6 to 10 hours, depending on your oven temperature and how crispy you want the ears to be—flip them once roughly around the cooking mid-point.
If using your smoker: Heat to 250° F. Spread out the pig's ears and smoke until thoroughly dried out—about 3 1/2 to 4 hours—and flip the ears once roughly around the cooking mid-point. It may seem like a hassle to heat up your smoker just for dog treats, so you can always plan to make the treats when you know you’ll be using it anyway. Just throw them on at the same time you’re smoking a human treat!
When the treats are done cooking and are cool enough for you to handle, use paper towels to remove excess oil. Store the treats in a paper bag in a cool, dry place, or in a zip-top plastic bag in the freezer for long-term storage.
- Pig's ears (and/or skin)
- Vegetable oil (or olive oil)
Two notes of caution:
Please exercise common sense when giving these to your dog. Treats are, exactly as the name declares, treats. They are not a replacement for a meal, and they should make up a small portion of your dog’s diet. Pig’s ear treats may not be the right choice for a dog with certain health conditions, so please talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about whether or not pig's ear dog treats are appropriate for your furry friend.
Just like chicken, pigs can carry salmonella (though it is more of a risk for the humans in the house than the dog.) So, be wary of possible cross-contamination as you’re preparing the ears: Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done preparing them, and don’t let anyone very young, old, or otherwise immune-compromised help you make these treats.
Pups for preservative-free pig's ears! We partnered with Link AKC—makers of a GPS-enabled collar to keep your pet safe and healthy—to share a recipe for these 2-ingredient dog treats (no icky stuff!).