Dogs can eat raw pig’s feet, but cooked pig’s feet are not safe for dogs. After cooking, the bones in pig’s feet become brittle and can break into sharp splinters when chewed. These splinters could severely injure a dog’s mouth or digestive system.
Read on to find out more about the risks and benefits of feeding pig’s feet to your dog and learn how to give these snacks in a safe and healthy way for your pet.
Why would dogs eat pig’s feet?
Descended originally from wolves, dogs are primarily carnivorous animals with some omnivorous tendencies. Their teeth and digestive systems have evolved to allow them to safely eat a wide range of meat from animals, including pigs.
Many dogs especially enjoy gnawing the meat from animal bones and chewing on the bones themselves. Raw pig’s feet are bone-rich, cheap, and nutritious, making them a popular choice with dog owners wanting to satisfy their dog’s snacking and chewing appetites.
Not all types of pig foot are suitable or safe for dogs to eat. Older dogs, puppies, or dogs with health issues may also have their own particular food requirements, and these individual concerns should also be considered in deciding whether pig’s feet are a good snack for your pet.
What nutrients can dogs get from eating pig’s feet?
Consuming a balanced diet supports your dog’s health and vitality, and there are benefits from including occasional pig’s feet amongst your regular dog snacks.
Like other animal hooves, pig’s feet are mainly composed of the protein keratin, which is important for maintaining healthy fur, claws, and internal organs. Overall, pig’s feet are rich in proteins, fats, and fatty acids, along with minerals and trace elements such as phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Your dog can absorb many nutrients by either chewing directly on raw pig’s feet or by consuming a bone broth. The bones in pig’s feet make them particularly high in the protein collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked.
Gelatin itself is a good source of amino acids, the building block for many proteins, which may help your dog to maintain healthy joints, organs, and connective tissue. To make a bone broth, boil the pigs’ feet in water and then remove cooked bones before serving to your dog.
Wider benefits of pigs feet as dog snacks
Chewing on pig’s feet is a good way to help scrape away the plaque or tartar, which can build upon a dog’s teeth, keeping their mouths clean and healthy.
Some dogs simply love to chew and need to be provided with a safe and non-disruptive way to satisfy this urge. Pigs feet can be used as strong, long-lasting chew snacks which can hold a dog’s attention and keep them away from their owner’s shoes or other household items.
Pig’s feet are cheap and plentiful compared to some more processed dog snacks or chew toys. Preparation time for owners is also minimal since pig’s feet should be served raw to dogs without cooking or seasoning.
When are pig’s feet dangerous for dogs?
There are several situations in which you should never give pig’s feet to your dog and a number of associated risks which you should bear in mind as a responsible dog owner.
Cooked pigs feet
Always avoid giving cooked pig’s feet to your dog. Pigs feet contain a large proportion of bone, which becomes brittle and liable to splinter when cooked. If your dog chews a cooked pig foot, these splinters could cut their mouth or become lodged under their gum.
If splinters of bone are then swallowed, they could do serious damage to a dog’s esophagus or digestive tract, causing discomfort, pain, or even death.
NB Smoked pigs’ feet are also a form of cooked pig’s feet and should not be given to dogs. As well as the risk from bone splinters, smoked pig’s feet may contain higher salt levels than is advisable in a balanced canine diet.
Broken pigs feet
Dog owners should examine raw pig’s feet carefully before giving them to their dog in order to ensure they are not cracked. Damaged pig’s feet may break when chewed, and this might again create the risk of dangerous splinters.
With raw pig’s feet, you should think about the potential presence of disease-causing microbes in the meat before feeding them to your dog. While most healthy dogs’ digestive systems will be able to cope well with common bacteria, there are cases where pig’s feet should be completely avoided.
In some parts of the world, raw pork meat may carry the pseudorabies virus or the Trichinella spiralis parasite, both of which are usually fatal in dogs. If these diseases offer a significant risk in your region, you may wish to find alternative chew snacks for your dog.
Older dogs, puppies, or dogs with existing health issues may be more vulnerable to infection from raw meat or more likely to encounter problems from choking or swallowing fragments of the pig foot bone.
In these cases, preparing a bone broth (by boiling the pig’s feet and then removing the bones from the liquid) could allow you to give your dog some nutritional benefits while avoiding other risks.
Chewing on bones can be a choking risk to dogs, especially smaller bones or smaller pieces of bone that may be found in pig’s feet. Owners should watch their dogs carefully after giving a pig foot and be alert to any signs of choking or distress.
Pigs’ feet are very tough and bony, which can lead to some dogs breaking teeth when chewing a particularly hard bone. If your dog has tooth problems due to age or a medical condition, you may want to consider a softer snack option.
How often should dogs eat pig’s feet?
Pig’s feet are relatively high in fat and could lead to your dog gaining excess weight if eaten too often. Being overweight is a health issue for dogs and should be avoided. Pigs feet are therefore best kept for a treat a couple of times each week or less frequently.
Where can you buy pig’s feet for dogs?
Online and high street pet food stores sell pig’s feet, as do many local butchers. In some countries, they are listed as pigs trotters rather than pigs feet. Make sure that you check the source and type of pig’s feet on sale before buying for your dog in order to avoid accidentally buying a cooked product or running other unnecessary risks.
How should pig’s feet be stored?
Like any uncooked meat, raw pig feet should be kept in the fridge before use and will last for up to three days if refrigerated. For longer storage, you can keep a supply of pigs feet in your freezer.
The final word…
Raw pig’s feet are an occasional excellent treat for most dogs, offering health and dental benefits as well as hours of chewing fun. Before you give pig’s feet to your dog, make sure you have considered disease and other risks as well as your own dog’s individual needs. Most importantly, never feed cooked pigs feet to a dog – they should always be raw and checked for cracks first.