The Food and Drug Administration and The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention are investigating pig ear treats for dogs that may be contaminated with the bacteria Salmonella. The pig ears in question were made by Pet Supplies Plus and sold in bulk bins through their stores in 33 states. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development found Salmonella in a bin of old pig ear treats. So far, packaged pig ears are not included in the recall.
Salmonella is a zoonotic bacteria that causes severe gastroenteritis. Infections occur from eating or handling materials infected with the bacteria. Clinical signs in animals and humans include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea with or without blood, fever, poor appetite and abdominal pain. Under rare circumstances, it can cause arthritis, eye irritation, urinary tract infections, arthritis and endocarditis in humans. According to a press release by Pet Supplies Plus, “To date, 45 individuals in 13 states have been diagnosed with Salmonella related illness. However, none of these cases are confirmed to be a result of purchasing pig ears from Pet Supplies Plus.” The complete list of states can be found here.
As a veterinarian, I do not recommend pig ears for dog treats for many reasons. I have seen dogs swallow large pieces that blocked their gastrointestinal tracts. Surgery was required to remove the offending piece. I have also seen pig ears trigger food allergies in my sensitive patients. Common signs of food allergies in dogs include ear infections and anal gland problems. We call this ‘ears and rears’ in veterinary medicine. Last, I have seen many dogs develop gastrointestinal problems including vomiting, diarrhea, bloating and gas. Although Salmonella wasn’t found at the time, I suspected bacterial contamination of some sort.
If you have purchased bulk pig ears from Pet Supplies Plus stores, please throw them away immediately. Disinfect anything that may have come into contact with the pig ear immediately. Watch your pet for signs of disease and seek veterinary care right away. Remember, people can be infected by handling the ears or being licked by a dog who recently ate one. Seek medial care immediately for any humans showing signs consistent with Salmonella infection.
More info at: https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/pet-supplies-plus-issues-consumer-advisory-bulk-pig-ear-product-fda-investigating-contaminated-pig. (This is also a source for this article.)