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Straight from the Pig’s Ear: Vegetarian Treats Dogs Love

himalayan chew

My dogs aren’t vegetarians, but I am, so I’m always on the lookout for non-meat treats for my gang. I do feed my dogs a meat based diet, but when it comes to their treats, which aren’t so much about nutrition as they are about fun, I prefer to stay away from bully sticks (bull weenies) and pig’s ears.

Between you and me, pig’s ears just make me so sad. Those smooth triangles are just like my own dog’s ears – the same ones I like to softly rub between my thumb and pointer finger while we watch tv at night.  I can never make myself buy them, so I searched out a few vegetarian options for my dogs that I could feel better about buying and they would enjoy.

Even if you’re not a vegetarian,  there are two other reasons why these treats are a good option to consider: smell and choking.  Bully sticks and smoked bones stink. These options are a little easier on our noses. And if you’ve ever jumped across a coffee table to sweep a folded piece of slimy rawhide out of your dog’s throat, you know there are some choking hazards to contend with when dealing with rawhide and bully sticks (which reminds me: don’t leave your dogs alone with those things).  Plus, variety is the spice of life right? Why not give your dog something new?


Here are my top picks:

1. Himalayan Dog ChewsThese long-lasting treats are made of yak and cow milk, salt, and lime juice.  That’s right, it’s cheese! Rock hard cheese, actually, that takes forever for your dog to soften and gnaw down. The cheese is made using traditional methods in Nepal and India, which the company purchases directly from the farmers.

Thinking my dog Boogie would destroy these in minutes, I avoided buying  them for years, but when I finally brought them home, I was pleasantly surprised. It took Boogie a couple of hours to get through one of the medium-sized chews. For Birdie, who is a moderate chewer, it lasted all day.  They’re not cheap, but one Himalayan chew lasts 2-3 times longer than a bully stick in my house, so the cost evens out.  Also, they don’t smell and my dogs don’t gulp down big pieces, so I’m not worried they’ll choke. Worth every penny.



2. Sam’s Yams: These dehydrated, 100% sweet potato chews are a great substitution for pig’s ears or rawhide chips.  For heavy-duty chewers, try the Big Boyz (each chew is the equivalent of half of a sweet potato), and it might last 1-5 minutes. For more moderate chewers, they can last twice as long. If you’ve got a little guy at home, check out their Bichon Fries.  If your dog has allergies, these are a great option because they’re made from a single ingredient. No corn, gluten, soy, wheat –  just sweet potato.  My only warning: expect orange poop later. Do not be alarmed.



3. The Everlasting Treat Ball: If you have a dog that you need to keep busy for a long time, these rubber-like, almost indestructible toys are the bomb – vegetarian or not. They come in a bunch of shapes: the double-sided ball, the fire plug, and the bento ball and they’re all hollow in the middle, so you can use them as puzzle toys by adding kibble.

How are they vegetarian? Because you plug the openings of each toy with an edible, rounded disc, bought separately, and three of the flavors: Vanilla Mint, Hickory Smoke, and the Wheat Free Chicken (with “natural vegetarian chicken flavor”) are all meat-free.  This toy/treat combo can potentially last for many hours, sometimes days, and after they’re done eating, they’ve still got a tough toy to play with.


This is another one of those items I thought my dog would destroy, but has held up really well. When I worked at the pet store, the bento ball and fire plug survived the staff’s large dogs: a pit bull mix, a Weimaraner, and a bulldog mix, chewing on them daily.


With these three vegetarian options, you can feel free to skip the bins of pig’s ears, bull weenies, and cow tails. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just want to give your dog something new to grind on, there’s something for all of us.  And if you have any veggie-friendly favorites, let me know about it!




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9 Comments
  1. Your personal ethics will dictate how you feel about them, but deer antlers are a great chew as well, and they last for /ages/ in my house. Sometimes you can get them from a hunter or find them yourself (some people are even training dogs to search them out!). Deer shed their antlers every year around this time, I’m actually taking my dog out next week to try to find some, so no deer have to be harmed to get them. There are companies that sell sheds too.

    January 20, 2012
    • Hey Raegan, You read my mind! I debated adding antlers to this list and in the end, opted not to in order to stay more veggie-specific. But I really like deer antlers for my dogs and have found a few small, local companies that sell naturally shed ones. In Maine, it’s not umcommon to get moose antlers too – they last forever! Do you have a particular company you like to buy them from (when you can’t find them on your own)?

      January 20, 2012
  2. GREAT suggestions:-) I can attest to the toughness and durability of the ‘Everlasting’ toys/treats….they are awesome. Antlers (we buy locally, naturally shed) last for months. And now I have new things to try!

    January 20, 2012
  3. Thanks Jessica. Did not know that the ETB came in a non wheat variety. I’ll have to look that up.

    I’m a vegan but I cook meat for my dogs several days a week.
    They also get veggies. 2 of them Love Sam Yams. Two of them are more carnivorous than the other two but they all love chick peas. Great for training – just the right size.

    I also let them munch down on whole potatoes and large carrots. It takes them several days to wear down a raw sweet potato

    After giving my dogs raw potatoes for a while, I did read on some site that they are bad for dogs, so beware.

    Here is Puddin eating a red potato: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVbWgJ7R8QI&feature=related

    And here is Puddin wanting to hog all the sweet potatoes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVbWgJ7R8QI&feature=related

    January 20, 2012
  4. I’ll have to comment on the everlasting treat ball. They aren’t everlasting for every dog. My Bailey has managed to chew around the edge of the ball while chewing the treat inside and now the plastic is coming apart and she can pop out those treats pretty easily after she’s chewed it down to a certain extent. I still think it’s a good toy (not great) but I’ll probably have to buy another soon before she gets chunks of the plastic completely off. Not to mention the treats are kindly useless if they aren’t in the ball.

    Just a word to the wise: heavy chewers will probably have to get the ball replaced 2-3 months of chewing. :-)

    January 21, 2012
    • Thanks Cheryl – it’s good to hear how they worked for different dogs. Some of the folks on Facebook love them, others say their dogs popped the treats out right away and they didn’t last very long (although you’re the first to say the actual toy got destroyed – that’s a real bummer). One tip from Facebook, if you’re still using these, is to flip the treat portion upside down when you insert it, so it’s a bit harder to get out. Thanks for reading!

      January 21, 2012
  5. While they are not a long lasting snack, my boys LOVE raw carrots. I buy the 5 pound bags of whole carrots at Sam’s Club and they get them at least once a day, generally 2 – 3 times a day. They don’t like the little baby carrots or cut up carrots – they want the big whole ones – the bigger the better! Of course my boys are 90, 125 and 145 pounds each so that makes a difference! There are a couple of side effects – when they eat on the couch or a bed the carrot can leave an orange stain. And their poop is orange! But that makes it easy to find at the dog park!

    Karen in Augusta, Maine

    January 27, 2012
  6. Jen #

    I just happen to walk into our local feed store when they were having a sale on the Himalayan dog chews. I decided to give them a try since reading about how much you liked them. Pongo LOVES them! I love the fact that they don’t break off huge pieces where I’m running to grab them from him. If he does get a bigger piece, he’s good about chewing it and I know it will dissolve in his stomach unlike bone pieces. The only downside is the terrible gas he gets from them but I guess it’s worth the peace of mind. :+) Thanks for the suggestion!

    January 31, 2012

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