Amid recent recalls of pig ear treats for dogs by Pet Supplies Plus and Lennox, Intl, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, have strongly recommended that pet owners refrain from using these sorts of treats at this time.
To date, 33 states have reported a total of 127 cases of Salmonella in people that can be traced back to handling pig ear dog treats. 26 people have been hospitalized, but thankfully there have not been any deaths to date. A map of the cases can be found here.
Although 43 of the human cases can be traced back to individually wrapped pig ears supplied by Lennox, Intl., many cases are likely the result of people choosing these sorts of treats from bulk bins in pet stores or other retail environments. In these cases, it's nearly
impossible to fully determine the source of the bacteria as many different shipments will be co-mingled.
Salmonella is a real concern and can make your family extremely sick. The CDC states that they estimate Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the United States every year. Food is the source for about 1 million of these illnesses. Symptoms in people ranges from abdominal cramps and diarrhea to fever and could last 4-7 days. You can find more information about this widespread bacteria at the CDC site.
Zoonotic bacteria aren't the only concern with these sorts of treats. According to veterinary nutritionists at Tufts University, many pet owners fail to account for the calories in these sorts of treats. Pig ear treats average about 130 calories per ear, depending on size of the treat. This could be up to about 20% of your pet's total daily energy needs if you have a toy breed dog! So, look for some healthier, safer options, like these provided by the veterinary nutritionist team at the Petfoodology blog.
For now, it's probably best to avoid pig ears (or any treat from a bulk bin) until the FDA and CDC track down the source of the contamination. Use some of the healthy treat options, like carrots, for your pup. If you feel as if your dog may be sick from ingesting a pig ear treat, call your veterinarian.
What treats are you using to keep your pups occupied?