Can Cats Eat Pig Ears? 8 Secrets Revealed

This question requires a more nuanced response than just “yes” or “no.” Dogs are the intended recipients of the pigs’ ear treat.

While the dog plays with them, it gets the nutritional benefits of a chew toy. However, they’re nothing more than junk for dogs and pose health risks to both humans and animals.

In general, pigs’ ears are safe for cats to eat. They’re safe for cats to eat, and they contain all the nutrients that felines need.

But salmonella can multiply rapidly in pigs’ ears, and the disease is spreading unnoticed among dog owners.

Are Pig Ears Safe?

No pet, whether feline or canine, should ever be given a pig ear as a treat. They are extremely high in fat and have been linked to a variety of digestive problems.

Lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are just some of the symptoms that susceptible animals may experience after eating a high-fat diet.

Cat Nutrition in Short

Obligate carnivores is a term used to describe cats. Animal proteins make up at least 70% of a wild diet for these true carnivores.

Pigs’ ears are a good source of animal protein and other essential nutrients for cats, which are obligate carnivores.

However, not every part of an animal provides the same nutritional value. We feed our pets a variety of foods, some of which are better for them than others, and pigs’ ears are not among the best choices.

Gray cat eating from the bowl

Pigs’ Ears Nutrition

The ears of pigs provide no special nutritional value. According to Bully Sticks, the average protein content of pigs’ ears is 69%.

It’s important to remember that they are making rawhide products and are therefore more likely to provide information that will help them sell those products.

According to Nutritionix, the sodium content of pigs’ ears is 56 times higher than the daily allowance recommended for cats, at about 8% of a human’s daily allotment. Those who have feline family members experiencing kidney issues may find this particularly concerning.

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Ears from pigs are also high-fat foods. Consuming too many of these can lead to weight gain in cats because they don’t provide much else besides calories.

In general, cats, dogs, and humans do not benefit nutritionally from eating pigs’ ears. They have a lot of sodium and not many of the healthy nutrients.

It’s safe to say that these would be considered junk food by any species of animal.

pig ears on metal tray

Can Dogs and Cats Eat the Same Treats?

There’s a good reason why dog food and cat food are made in two different varieties. Dogs and cats are two entirely different species. Their nutritional requirements and physical characteristics vary greatly.

It’s not healthy to give your cat dog treats on a regular basis because cats have different nutritional requirements than dogs.

The most significant issue with dog treats is that they frequently include ingredients that are fine for dogs but can be fatal for cats. Ingredients like ethylene glycol and propylene glycol also fall into this category.

Why Do Dog Treats Contain Toxic Ingredients?

Keep in mind that not all dog treats contain harmful ingredients, and that even when they do, it is usually only in trace amounts.

Dog chew treats are preserved with propylene glycol and ethylene glycol so that they remain juicy and appetizing to canines. Dogs can be tempted by the aroma and taste of garlic and onions in their food.

Safe levels of these ingredients have been determined for dogs, but for cats, there is no such assurance.

calico cat having treats

Antifreeze is chemically known as propylene glycol or ethylene glycol. Even though propylene glycol antifreeze is advertised as “pet safe,” it can have fatal effects on cats.

For this reason, it is no longer allowed in any feline diet. Even a small amount of the propylene glycol in a dog treat can be fatal for your cat.

Propylene glycol is safe for both humans and dogs and can be found in many processed foods.

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Only in cat food can it not be used. Propylene glycol can only be excluded from cat food and treats if they are made with cats in mind.

What Can I Give My Cat to Chew?

Cat grass and catnip, when used in moderation, are also acceptable as cat chews.

Your cat may enjoy one of the many available cat chew toys. CatTwig manufactures chew sticks for cats that are fashioned after popular dog treats.

There are a few dog chews that are safe for cats to use if you’re having trouble finding something your cat will enjoy. Instead of dental bones, look for single-ingredient, meat-based chews, and read the label to make sure there are no harmful additives.

Salmonella Contamination

Pigs’ ears are notoriously prone to salmonella contamination. In 2019, the CDC began looking into Salmonella contamination from contact with Pigs’ Ears. The treat-infection connection, however, was first reported in print in Canada in 2001.

However, the American Veterinary Medical Association noted that the treats were still a cause for concern in 2020, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s report that the salmonella outbreak linked to pigs’ ears had been contained by October 2019.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified several countries as likely origins of the contaminated pigs’ ears. The storage conditions of the treats, however, make this process more challenging.

Some pet stores may package their pigs’ ears individually, while others may just have a big bin in the back where pet parents can grab one whenever they need it.

In 2019, the AMVA reports that it can be difficult to trace salmonella infections that were linked to pigs’ ear bulk bins because “salmonella can stick around in the environment for quite a while.”

Salmonella contamination is a long-standing issue in the field of animal medicine. However, many veterinarians advise against feeding cats and dogs pigs’ ears due to the high risk of salmonella contamination, even if the pigs’ ears themselves are safe.

This is especially important information for pet owners who are immunocompromised or who live with someone who is. Salmonella can be transmitted from handling a pigs’ ear treat to the handler and anyone else in the house.

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pig in the mud

Alternatives to Pigs’ Ears

Fortunately, there are just as many options to pigs’ ears as there are to indulge in them. Most of these snacks are designed for canines, but there’s no reason a cat couldn’t enjoy them as well.

Cows’ Ears

Pet owners now have a tasty alternative to pigs’ ears: cows’ ears. Beef is a healthy alternative to pork because it has a higher nutrient density and less fat.

Multiple companies are cashing in on the popularity of these snacks. However, Barkworthies Cow Ears were a huge hit with pet owners.

Antlers

Dogs love to chew on antlers because of their flavor. They’re strong and won’t break or splinter like rawhide or bone would.

If your cat suffers from pica and likes to eat non-food items like plastic or styrofoam, antlers are a good alternative.

Toys & Bones In the United States, antlers come primarily from deer. You shouldn’t have any trouble giving your cat some of their Split Elk Antlers, which are wildly popular among dog owners.

cat is chewing on a treat_Marinka Buronka, Shutterstock

Lambs’ Ears

Another viable alternative to pigs’ ears is lambs’ ears. Unlike pigs’ ears, they are more comfortable to wear and less likely to splinter.

Historically, lambs’ ears were much harder to come by than pigs’ ears, but many companies have made them more widely available in recent years.

Our favorite dish was Ziwi’s liver-coated lamb’s ears. Your cat will get the taurine and other vital nutrients it needs from the liver coating.

Final Thoughts

Cats should not chew on pig ears. They can be harmful to your cat’s digestive system and could even make you sick with salmonella.

Cats have unique nutritional requirements, so cat chews designed with these needs in mind are your best bet.

Cats aren’t natural chewers, so finding chews they enjoy can be challenging. If you insist on using dog chews, make sure there aren’t any potentially toxic ingredients before giving them to your cat.

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