Best Cow Ears For Dogs: Quick Picks
- PICK #1: Pawstruck’s Cow Ears. USA-made cow ear chews without any artificial preservatives, additives, or chemicals.
- PICK #2: Red Barn Cow Ears from Chewy. Available for auto-ship from Chewy, available in 1 or 10 packs. Ears sourced from USA and Canada, without any added colors, flavors, preservatives or chemicals.
What Exactly Are Cow Ears?
Cow ears are an increasingly popular chew for dogs. While pig ears, bully sticks, and esophagus can be greasy or stinky, cow ears are relatively odor-less and adored by dogs!
Most cow ear treats are made without colors, flavors, preservatives or chemicals.
Pros & Cons of Cow Ears
While there are a variety of great dog chews on the market, there are definitely big benefits to cow ears over other chew options.
- Highly digestible – your dog can eat them, no problem.
- They’ll help keep your dogs teeth clean. As your dog chews cow ears, they’ll scrape plaque and tartar from your dog’s chompers.
- Cow ears are a great rawhide alternative.
- Low fat (especially compared to alternatives like pig ears)
- Less smelly than other similar chews (ex. pig ears, bully sticks, etc)
- Cow ears are soft enough to not break your dog’s teeth.
- Relatively affordable, especially when ordered in bulk online (most cow ears are $1-$2 each, getting cheaper when ordered in bulk).
- Not as messy or as greasy as some other chews (and because of less grease, usually less likely to cause stomach issues).
- Cow ears chews are a natural source of chondroitin since ears are made of cartilage, which helps to support joint function.
- When the pieces get small, cow ears can become a choking hazard, so monitor as your dog enjoys and/or take it away when it becomes small.
- Some owners report runny stools after giving their dogs cow ears, but this varies for different owners – some dogs are totally fine.
- There is still some grease involved, so be careful where your dog enjoys the cow ear to avoid staining carpets or furniture.
Best Cow Ear Chews
1. Pawstruck Cow Ear Chews
Pawstruck sells a number of high-quality, natural treats and chews, including cow ears (they also sell more exotic chews like bully sticks, knee cap bones, cow hooves, pig snouts, antler chews, beef tendon, and more)
USA-made, high-quality cow ears
Pawstruck’s cow ears contain no artificial additives or chemicals and offer discounts for bulk buying
Pawstruck’s Cow Ears For Dogs are made in the USA without any artificial additives, preservatives or chemicals. They come in packs of 1, 20, 50, 100, and even 200 (of course the more you buy, the more you save)!
While pricing may change depending on availability and seasonal discounts, Pawstruck seems to be one of the more affordable options for cow ears that we’ve seen.
Thee cow ear chews are baked and dried in the oven to seal in the beefy flavor and to produce a crunchy texture pups go nuts for.
Disclosure: Pawstruck offered to send us a bag of cow ears to try. It was Remy’s first time trying them, and he was definitely a fan!
2. Redbarn Cow Ear Treats (via Chewy)
Redbarn Cow Ear Treats are available from Chewy, and are available in 1 or 10 count packs.
Natural, thin cow ears
These Redbarn cow ears feature no added colors, flavors, preservatives or chemicals
Redbarn Cow Ears are made without any added colors, flavors, preservatives or chemicals. The ears originate from Canada and the USA.
Because Redbarn Cow Ears are sold on Chewy, you can save big bucks if you sign up with auto-ship. This also promises a continuing source of tasty cow ears for your pooch to enjoy without you needing to run out to the store.
3. Premium Thick-Cut Cow Ears from Best Bully Sticks
Jumo-sized cow ears perfect for snacking
These cow ears are all-natural and sourced from free-range cattle. Plus, they contain no added flavors, smoking agents or additives of any kind.
Best Bully Sticks’ Cow Ears are another provider of cow ears chews for dogs, available in packs of 25, 50, or 75.
Like the other providers listed here, Best Bully Sticks’ cow ears are free of preservatives, chemicals or additives. Plus, no flavoring or smoking agents are added either.
These cow ears are sourced from free-range, grass-fed Brazilian beef.
Best Bully Sticks also offered a few variations of cow ear chews:
- 100% Natural Cow Ears (thinner than the thick-cut, and unwashed).
- Jumbo Cow Ears (2x larger than standard size, ideal for giant breeds and ultra-heavy chewers)
Cow Ears vs Chew Alternatives
There are many types of dog-friendly chews available made from animal parts. So how do cow ears stack up against popular alternatives? We’ll discuss!
Cow Ears vs Pig Ears: What’s The Difference?
Cow ear and pig ear dog chews are similar in many ways. They form a relatively similar shape (both are ears after all), and both are considered natural chews that come from animals.
Major differences mostly concern the level of fat (cow ears are lower in fat than pig ears), and the amount of grease and smelliness. Cow ears tend to be less greasy and less odorous than pig ears.
Many owners also feel more comfortable giving their dogs cow ears over pig ears after the huge nation-wide pig ear recall that occurred in July 2019 due to a large spread salmonella outbreak.
Cow Ears vs Rawhide: Which is Safer?
Cow ears are generally considered a better alternative to rawhide chews because they are more easy for your dog to digest and don’t tend to be as tough.
Because rawhides are harder and tougher than cow ears, they are also more likely to cause broken teeth and mouth damage.
How Long Does it Take a Dog to Eat a Cow Ear?
While all dogs are individuals to some extent, the average chew time for a cow ear is approximately 30 minutes or so, depending on how heavy of a chomper your dog is. However, some dogs may spend several hours gnawing at a good cow ear.
How Are Cow Ears Made and Processed?
Cow ears are generally first de-haired, then frozen for transport at a plant in the US. From there, they are thawed and dipped in a mixture to disinfect the ears and eliminate bacteria (ex. sodium hypochlorite). Finally, the ears are dried and packaged.
Unfortunately, there are no regulations regarding cow ear manufacturing, so exact processing can vary. Since cow ears and other similar dog chews are not considered “food”, they require no oversight from the FDA.
Because there’s also no legal definition of the term “all-natural”, a manufacturer can label their cow ears as “all-natural”, even if it’s been dunked in chemicals during processing.
As Whole Dog Journal notes:
The company isn’t breaking any rules or laws; it’s perfectly legal for a manufacturer to list the ingredients of a rawhide chew as “100% cowhide,” even if the hide was washed in formaldehyde and whitened with titanium dioxide.
While this can sound quite horrific, it’s worth noting that all products that come from animals need to be treated or processed in some manner to prevent spoiling.
Your goal as a pet parent should simply be to find products that use the minimal amount of preservative chemicals, while still remaining free of dangerous bacteria.
Naturally, this is a very difficult endeavor because – as we noted earlier – there’s no overnight for such chews. Ultimately, your best bet will be to look at the reputation of the manufacturer and make your best judgment call.
It’s also best to opt for cow ears sourced from US cattle, since they are less likely to be injected with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. Even though there are no official regulations regarding cow ears themselves, US cattle farmers are regulated and inspected more strictly than many other countries.
The exception to that would be Brazil and Argentina, with wide grazing lands and large amounts of cattle that are free-range and grass-fed. Many believe that these cattle actually contain fewer chemicals than US cattle, so they’re a pretty safe bet.
How Often Can Dogs Have Cow Ears?
It really depends on the dog and if your pooch’s stomach can handle the cow ear. Some owners give their dogs cow ears every other day or so, while others reserve them as a special treat only given as a high-value reward or to distract a dog from visitors, thunderstorms, etc.
Are Cow Ears Safe For Dogs?
Yes, cow ears are safe for dogs to enjoy (generally) – especially compared to alternatives like antlers, bones, and rawhides. They are completely edible, fully-digestible, and cow ears are soft enough that they don’t have the potential to break your dog’s teeth.
However, as with most dog chews, there are some potential hazards. Once your dog has been at the cow ear for a while, it will become small enough to become a choking hazard.
Cow ears also have the potential to splinter when your dog bites into them, which could result in your dog hurting his mouth on the ear. For these reasons, we don’t recommend giving dog’s cow ears unattended, and suggest removing the cow ear once it’s reached a smaller size or if it splinters.
It’s also recommended to provide your dog with plenty of water to help them digest those cow ears.
It is worth noting that there are no regulations of animal ears or rawhides, so there is always some inherent danger due to lack of regulation and truly knowing the origin of these chews.
Have you ever given your dog a cow ear chew? How did it go? Share your story in the comments!