Rabbit ears are a kind of uncommon snack, and it’s likely that you haven’t seen them before.
However, if you’re trying to find a healthy and natural treat for your dog, or maybe a treat that’s not only tasty but also good for their health, rabbit ears could be a good choice.
But before giving them to your dog, you might want to make sure they’re safe.
In this article, I will explore why you might consider giving rabbit ears to your dog.
I’ll discover the benefits they can offer to your dog, as well as their drawbacks, and I’ll discuss alternative options if you’re not very enthusiastic about the idea.
What Exactly are Rabbit Ears?
Rabbit ears come from rabbits that are raised for their meat. Most of the rabbit ears you find in the UK come from Europe.
However, China produces a lot of rabbit meat, so it’s important to look at the packaging to know where the ears are from. Rabbit farming standards are better in Europe compared to China.
After they’re collected, the ears are either dried in the air (which is the most common way) or frozen and dried.
They might have fur on them or not. These methods help the ears stay good for a long time.
Air-dried ears can be kept in a sealed container for up to 18 months. Freeze-dried ears can be stored for 30 days after opening, in a cool and dry spot.
Still, your dog will probably finish them in a few days or weeks, so they won’t be around until they expire!
When Should Puppies Start Eating Rabbit Ears?
When puppies are about 8 weeks old, that’s a good time to begin giving them rabbit ears.
By this age, puppies are usually done with nursing and have the teeth and strong jaws needed to chew and digest solid food.
When you give your puppy new foods, make sure to watch how they chew and swallow to ensure they do it safely.
You should also make sure your dog can manage rabbit ears. Remember, every puppy’s age and size can be different.
And some puppies might be ready for rabbit ears a bit earlier or later than 8 weeks.
Benefits of Rabbit Ears for Your Dogs
Rabbit ears are really good for dogs, full of healthy nutrients. But the exact nutrition can be different in different products.
Still, they all have a lot of protein, which helps dogs have strong muscles, shiny fur, and healthy skin. It’s also good for many other important body functions.
These are not just healthy snacks for your dog, they also bring along a bunch of health advantages, like:
- Better Teeth: Rabbit ears are dried, so when your dog chews them, they act like scrub brushes on their teeth. This scrubs away plaque and food stuck on the teeth.
- Easier to Digest: Some rabbit ears come with hair on them. This hair is a kind of fiber that’s hard to digest. As the hair moves through the intestines, it gently cleans out leftover, undigested food. This makes the intestines better at taking in nutrients.
- Natural Deworming: Just like how rabbit ears help with digestion, the hair on them might also help prevent worms from building up in the intestines. But it’s important to know that there’s no proof from scientific studies that rabbit hair alone can get rid of worms. So, you’ll still need to use proper deworming treatments when needed.
- Happier Rear End: Remember the hair? It has fiber that can help make the dog’s poop firmer. If your dog often has trouble with their anal glands getting blocked, firmer poop can help push those glands as they pass, leading to fewer blockages and infections.
- Less Anxiety: Chewing can actually make your dog feel happier and less stressed. When they chew, their body releases special chemicals called endorphins that help them relax. This can be really helpful when they’re feeling scared or nervous, like during loud events like fireworks or thunderstorms.
- Good for Allergies: Some companies that make rabbit ears say they’re hypoallergenic. This suggests that they are not as likely to trigger allergies. But this isn’t completely true, because some dogs might still be allergic to the proteins in rabbits. However, it’s really rare for dogs to be allergic to rabbits, since rabbits have a kind of protein that dogs usually haven’t eaten before. So, most dogs with allergies can eat rabbit ears without any problems.
While rabbit ears are really good for your dog’s health and have lots of good stuff in them, they shouldn’t be the main part of what your dog eats.
Your dog mostly needs to have well-balanced, good-quality food.
Giving your dog a rabbit ear two or three times a week is enough for them to get the good things from it.
How to Get Rabbit Ears Ready for Your Puppy Properly
Getting rabbit ears ready for your puppy is really important so they can eat them safely. Here’s how to do it right:
If you’re giving your puppy dried rabbit ears, put them in water or broth for a bit to make them softer. This way, it’ll be easier for your puppy to chew and swallow.
And if you’re using fresh rabbit ears, make sure to wash them well to get rid of any dirt or stuff on them.
You can also cut off any extra cartilage or fat before giving them to your puppy.
Watch your puppy while they eat the rabbit ears to make sure they’re chewing and swallowing them properly.
Don’t give your puppy rabbit ears that have chemicals or preservatives, are spoiled, or smell bad.
Downsides and Risks of Rabbit Ears Safe for Dogs?
One thing people worry about with rabbit ears is the hair.
Hair is tough to digest, so if your dog eats a lot of it, it might have trouble passing through its system.
But if you stick to giving them just two or three ears a week, this problem is unlikely to happen.
Rabbit ears only have cartilage, skin, and sometimes hair, so there are no bones that could get stuck or hurt their insides.
Still, if your dog tends to gobble treats really fast (like Labradors do), it’s a good idea to watch over them while they eat the treat.
This way, you can make sure they’re chewing it properly.
Rabbit ears are usually advertised as treats with low fat, but as we learned before, the amount of fat can be different.
So, if your pet is too heavy or has problems that get worse because of fat, like pancreatitis, you should only get rabbit ears that promise to have very little fat (less than 15%).
Different Choices Instead of Rabbit Ears
Considering rabbit ears but not completely convinced yet? Here are some other options:
Looking for other options besides rabbit ears? Here are some choices:
- Chicken Feet or Duck Feet: Dogs really enjoy chewing on chicken and duck feet. These treats are usually either raw or dried. They have small bones that are quite safe because they crumble instead of breaking into big pieces. These treats are good for your dog’s teeth and also have glucosamine and chondroitin, which help keep their joints healthy.
- Pig Ears: These are natural treats that also help improve your dog’s teeth when they chew on them. However, they can have a strong smell, and they contain a lot of fat. So, they might not be the best option for dogs with pancreatitis or those who are overweight.
- Deer Antlers: If you want a natural treat that lasts a long time, deer antlers are a great choice. They can stay good for months and won’t splinter or break like bones. Chewing on these antlers can help your dog with their anxiety and also clean their teeth. These are especially good for dogs that need something low in fat because they usually don’t get eaten.
- Chicken Necks: These treats are similar to chicken feet but come from a different part of the chicken. The bones are a bit more noticeable than in chicken feet. While they should crumble as your dog chews them, it’s still a good idea to watch them closely.
- Dental Chews: Interested in treats that last a long time and don’t smell? Dental chews could be a good option. Even though they’re not natural, they work to clean your dog’s teeth and make their breath fresher. But they do have a lot of calories, so it’s best to give them in small amounts. If your dog is overweight, think about other options. Also, keep in mind that their ingredient list might not be very clear, so you might not know exactly what’s in them.
In the end, rabbit ears can be a really good addition to your puppy’s diet as a delicious treat and a source of healthy protein.
But it’s really important to think about how old and big your puppy is, what they need to eat, and if they have any health problems before you start giving them rabbit ears.
If you’re not sure if rabbit ears are right for your puppy, talk to your vet or a qualified nutrition expert.