What are the allergies and sensitivities related to pigs’ ears in dogs ?

Dog owners either love or hate pigs ears, same for dogs I guess.  So it’s worthwhile knowing what might prevent your bundle of joy having fun with them.

Why dogs love pigs ear dog treats

Pig’s ears are seen as a generic dog treat, available almost everywhere.  Dogs love them because of their taste and texture, and that they are the perfect size for slotting into their mouths to carry around for a while or just begin ripping them.

However, on rare occasions some dogs can have allergies and sensitivities triggered by them.  This is what can cause these issues:

Protein allergies of pig’s ear dog treats

There are twenty common amino acids in any protein.  Of which TEN are essential amino acids that a dog’s needs to consume from food.  MEAT has the highest amount of these amino acids, and they are also the most bio available for dogs.

Although over 500 amino acids exist in nature, ONLY 22 α-amino acids incorporated into proteins in food.

The TOTAL amount of protein in different foods vary considerably.  Some grains only have 10% protein, whereas dried meat jerky can have up to 60% protein.

It is worth noting that Amino nitrogen (the basis of all amino acids), accounts for about 16% of the weight of proteins.

Amino acids are vital to the healthy dog’s body. They are required for the synthesis of body protein and other important nitrogen-containing compounds, such as creatine, peptide hormones, and some neurotransmitters.

But Protein allergies can occur when a dog’s immune system mistakenly identifies certain proteins (or their composite amino acids) as harmful and launch an immune response against them.

The severe allergy signs for dogs, are the same as for humans. In extreme cases they can include any of the following:  itching, skin inflammation, hair loss, ear infections, (vomiting and diarrhea), and respiratory congestion. If your dog’s suffer from any obvious major bad interaction, consult your vet.


This is akin to issues that humans have with gluten in grains. A person with true gluten allergies is called a celiac.  This means even small amounts of grain in bread can cause major stomach upsets, malnutrition through inability to digest nutrients in the colon, and in severe cases death.

BUT those who have minor interactions, those who can tolerate the discomfort are called gluten sensitive.

You might also consider this to be like when Humans have a mild allergy reaction to cow’s milk (ie extra mucus), dogs too can have a barely detectable reaction to a whole range of foods.  In some countries dog’s milk (cow’s milk with the lactose removed) is so important that it’s a major part of the dog treat range.

Pigs ear dog treats – additive sensitivities

All ears are not created equal. For instance, some are just dried pigs’ ears.  Others have these added:  preservatives, flavorings, colorings

Since adding anything to a treat costs a manufacturer money, you might ask why do they bother?  Well we have been told that they enhance the taste so the dog will eat more.  The additives can change the appearance, which is a selling point mostly to the human, since dogs are much more driven by smell and taste a very long second.

But since pigs ears are so loved by dogs when 100% natural, the color is mostly for the owners. To catch their attention.

A bigger issue is the use of Preservatives can add to shelf life. Natural (no additives) pigs ears have a shelf life typically closer to over a year, so they add preservatives mostly when they come from suspect sources and suspect countries.

 But some preservatives can affect some dogs.  The irony is, that straight 100% meat dog treats typically don’t have ANY additives including preservatives.  But add sugar and spice and colors that are nice, and you might need to add a preservative to extend shelf life.

A 100% single ingredient NO Additive pig’s ear will typically last one year shelf life if stored in pantry conditions. So there is no valid reason to buy a pigs ear with anything but pigs ear as the ingredient!


Dogs are either allergic to a protein or fat mostly of a specific animal, such as beef, chicken, wheat or pork.  But pork meat is a relatively rare allergy.  If you suspect an allergic reaction to pig’s ear dog treats, consult your vet – they might be able to do a whole panel of allergy tests at once.

If the main reason you are using a pig’s ear is for a preoccupier treat that will prevent a dog getting separation anxiety, but they don’t last long enough, that is often when owners switch to bully sticks.  The sticks should also be 100% single ingredient with no additives, naturally.

And while some additives side effects might seem scary, not all dogs will react badly to them. If you want to give your dog the purest experience, then why not just buy a dried pigs ear, without additives, from a brand or country you trust?

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