Meat

Yes, I’m Making My Own Pig’s Ear Dog Treats. Here’s Why.

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February 16, 2017

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.

Gus doesn't even know how close he is to the pig's ears!! Photo by Alpha Smoot

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.

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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.

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Top Comment:
“Why are you reading an article about pig ears at all if it makes you ill? Take exception with people eating meat in general if you wish but there is really no difference between consuming a steak or ear. If people are going to utilize animals for meat then surely it is desirable to use as much of any one individual as possible. On the subject of ethics--it is fine for people to be vegetarians but I think it is totally unethical for people to choose a vegetarian lifestyle for cats and dogs. Whether you agree or not nature designed them to thrive on meat. ”
— caninechef
Comment

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.

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!).

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8 Comments

BerryBaby May 7, 2018
My boys are tiny so very careful about ehat they eat.<br />No rawhide treats. For chewing they have a variety of chew toys recommended by the vet. No plush toys.<br />Small bits of raw carrots and apples are favorites too.
 
Plantae S. February 23, 2017
I don't like to be a downer but as a plant based human I feel quite ill to read these comments. The pig's ears you're talking about belong to an animal as smart as your dog... or your 3 year old toddler. Please, take a minute to consider the values you were taught to and wether they are truthful to who you are now. Blessings, much Love and Peace to you and loved ones.
 
caninechef February 24, 2017
Why are you reading an article about pig ears at all if it makes you ill? Take exception with people eating meat in general if you wish but there is really no difference between consuming a steak or ear. If people are going to utilize animals for meat then surely it is desirable to use as much of any one individual as possible. On the subject of ethics--it is fine for people to be vegetarians but I think it is totally unethical for people to choose a vegetarian lifestyle for cats and dogs. Whether you agree or not nature designed them to thrive on meat.
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. February 24, 2017
Hi Plantae Staff, welcome to Food52! While I don't eat meat, my dog does, and I feel good knowing that I'm supporting local farmers and purchasing a product that would oftentimes otherwise be discarded—as caninechef points out, I find it preferable that as much gets put to good use as possible.
 
caninechef February 21, 2017
I may be the one other person you turn up who has baked pig ears. I am glad you mention size appropriate portion control. Even rendered out they are very fatty. Something to pay attention to with any individual or breed predisposed to pancreatitis. I pretty much had the feeding philosophy if a wolf would eat it, it is fair game. But I was careful about pig ear fests. When I switched to feeding a diet heavy in raw meat I dropped pig ears from the diet, I am sure much to my dog's disappointment. Cooking them is easy but man those things are tough to cut up,
 
amysarah February 16, 2017
Glad you mentioned asking your vet - my dog used to love him some raw hide and/or pigs' ears. But when he became ill (lymphoma) my vet told us to stop letting him have them, given his compromised immune system. Even a couple of years later, when he was long in remission and very healthy, she still said not to.<br /><br />I know this may not have widespread implications - just emphasizing that checking with your vet is important.
 
Lauren R. February 16, 2017
Lindsay! Just had to share that my dog's name is also Roux and she ALSO is such a chewer. I guess that's what you get for naming a dog after something food related :)
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. February 16, 2017
Cheers to twinner dog names!