Should I feed my dog rawhide bones, cows hooves, or pigs ears?

These types of treats are not recommended to dogs for several reasons.

First, they pose a risk to humans. In October 1999, the FDA issued a nation-wide public health warning after a number of people in Canada became sick when they came into contact with dog chew products made from pork and beef materials (e.g., pigs’ ears, smoked hooves, and pigs’ skins).

The products were contaminated with Salmonella infantis, a bacterium that infects humans and causes flu-like symptoms, including nausea, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Although healthy adults can be protected from this infection by frequent hand washing, not every dog owner is so diligent.

Immunocompromised persons, including infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, persons with human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV), and those who are donor organ recipients or are receiving chemotherapy, are at greater risk of infection and may suffer from life-threatening illness if exposed to Salmonella infantis.

Second, these types of products can cause harm to dogs. Large pieces can become lodged in a dog’s digestive system, causing partial or complete blockage that requires surgical removal. Although many dogs can tolerate these treats with no ill effects, a significant number cannot.

They suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, flatulence, and pancreatitis. Manufacturing practices for such products are also not well monitored, especially for those products made in other countries — toxic preservatives such as arsenic have been used in their manufacture.