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Cow Ears 101

Cow ears may sound a little strange, but I promise your dog will love them (and love you for giving them)! Cow ears are safe for dogs to ingest and there are several varieties, making these great for many dogs.

multiple cow ears laying next to each other on grass.

Natural dog treats can be hard to find. They are either not readily available (looking at my favorite place, Target!) or are expensive. But ensuring your dog has natural and safe things to enjoy are a top priority for any dog owner, regardless of the difficulty it presents.

The good news is that cow ears are natural and are becoming more and more common! These are very similar to pig ears, if you have ever given those to your pup, but are much larger, making them great for bigger dogs. Like any other natural chew, these are great for relieving anxiety and for oral hygiene because they offer an outlet for chewing, plus they are totally digestible.

Chewing is a natural instinct that dogs have specifically to release tension and keep their teeth in tip-top shape. So although it can be seen as a destructive behavior, having an outlet for chewing is a good thing for your pup’s health and one that should be encouraged in a structured way. So, let’s get to learning all about cow ears!

What Are Cow Ears?

Cow ears are well, cow ears. They are very similar to pig ears, but are up to 50% larger! They are used as natural chews for dogs because they are easily digestible. But despite their size, they only take about 20 minutes for my pup to devour.

They are produced from by-products of the beef industry. They are produced through a series of steps that involve cleaning the ears, drying them, and then one more round of disinfectant. They can vary in color and texture depending on what a company’s processing steps are. Other similar chews that resemble cow ears and can be found in stores are buffalo or water buffalo ears for dogs.

Always read the label! Low quality producers may simply shape rawhide to look like and ear. Read the label to ensure you know what you’re giving your pup!

golden brown cow ear laying on grass.

Benefits Of Cow Ears For Dogs

1. Entertaining

Chewing is one of those things that drive owners insane and make pups insanely happy! And to be fair, it is a natural instinct for dogs. Giving them cow ears is not only delicious, but it eases anxious and destructive behaviors.

2. Chondroitin

This funny-sounding name is actually a component of cartilage that is incredibly good for your pups. Since dried ears for dogs are made up almost entirely of cartilage, they are chock-full of this stuff. It is especially helpful for the joints of dogs that have arthritis or are working dogs.

3. Dental Health

While these chews do soften as they are chewed on, they start out hard. As your dog chews on them, it will clean their teeth and help remove plaque and tarter. These are a great way to keep your dog’s dental hygiene in tip-top shape and are a great substitute for Greenies!

4. Safety

These chews are highly digestible, meaning everything that reaches the stomach should dissolve eventually. As with any treat, they always pose a small choking risk and it is recommended to be given to your dog while they are supervised. Cow ears also should be given in moderation (no more than a couple of times a week), as they are considered a treat. Do not give cow ears to dogs with beef allergies or puppies younger than 8 weeks.

5. Flavorful and Low Maintenance

Being made from 100% cow ears, dogs love the smell and taste of these. Their smell is very mild to the human nose, but off the charts delicious smelling to our dogs! They are also far less greasy than pig ears for dogs making them much less messy for us owners. All in all, they are smelly and tasty to our dogs and mild and not gross to handle for us humans, making them a win in my book!

More Natural Chews

If you had great luck with cow ears or can’t find them, try any of these other options of natural chews for dogs. All have their own pros and cons; there is sure to be something your pup loves!

  • Pig Ears or Buffalo Ears for Dogs – these are super similar to cow ears, but are a little smaller and a little smellier. For some reason Rhubarb doesn’t care for pig ears but likes cow ears, so totally personal preference for your dog!
  • Beef Cheek Rolls – another great natural chew option! These are incredibly durable, they last longer than any other treat I have tried giving to Rhubarb. I almost think she gets bored with it. They can be pretty smelly though so I do not use them as much as cow ears.
  • Himalayan Dog Chews – these are great because they do not smell either! They are made with yak milk so they are packed with calcium and protein!
  • Antlers – These are another favorite of Rhubarb’s. These truly last the longest of any chew. I consider these a chew instead of a treat like beef cheek rolls. They can become dangerous as your dog chews down to the end of the antler so always give under supervision.
  • Chicken Feet – these also have a high chondroitin content, like cow ears, so good for joints. But to be honest, are a little harder to handle (mentally) than cow ears.
  • Bully Sticks – these are the most commonly available in store and are a great option for a long-lasting and smelly treat. But also pose a choking risk as they are chewed down to the end.