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Pig ear dog treats sicken people in 33 states

Pig ear dog treats sicken people in 33 states

By Rita Jane Gabbett on 8/1/2019

In connection with a multistate outbreak of Salmonella illness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday advised people not to buy or feed their dogs any pig ear dog treats, including any already in homes.

The treats could be contaminated with Salmonella, the agencies said. Handling the treats could make people sick; eating the treats could make dogs sick. So far, 127 ill people have been reported from 33 states, including 26 people who have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Product testing has identified many different strains of Salmonella in pig ears from various brands and suppliers. Information collected to date about where ill people bought pig ears has not identified a single supplier, distributor or common brand of pig ear treats.

The CDC is recommending throwing the treats away in a secure container so that  pets and other animals can’t eat them and washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling pet food or treats, including pig ears.

  • CDC and FDA are now advising people not to buy or feed any pig ear dog treats to pets, including any that may already be in homes.
  • People can get sick after handling the treats or caring for dogs who ate the treats. Dogs might get sick after eating them.
  • Since the last update on July 17, 2019, a total of 34 ill people have been added to this investigation.
  • A total of 127 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 33 states.
    • 26 ill people (30%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
    • 24 illnesses (21%) are among children younger than 5 years.
  • Epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback evidence indicates that contact with pig ear dog treats from many different suppliers is the likely source of this outbreak.
  • State health and regulatory officials in several states and the FDA have tested pig ear dog treats at various suppliers and identified many different strains of Salmonella. No single supplier, distributor or common brand of pig ear treats has been identified that could account for all the illnesses. This is why CDC and FDA are now advising people to not buy or feed any pig ear dog treats to pets.
  • This investigation is ongoing and CDC will provide updates when more information is available.
Advice to Dog Owners
Illustration of a megaphone.
  • Do not feed any pig ear treats to your dog. Throw them away in a secure container so that your pets and other animals can’t eat them.
    • Even if some of the pig ears were fed to your dog and no one got sick, do not continue to feed them to your dog.
    • Wash containers, shelves, and areas that held any pig ear dog treats with hot, soapy water. Be sure to wash your hands after handling any of these items.
  • I fed pig ears to my dog. How do I know if I have a Salmonella infection?
    • People with a Salmonella infection may have diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Most people recover without treatment. If you have symptoms of a Salmonella infection talk to your healthcare provider.
  • How do I know if my dog has Salmonella infection?
    • Some dogs with Salmonella infection may not look sick. Dogs with a Salmonella infection usually have diarrhea (which may be bloody). Sick animals may seem more tired than usual, and may vomit or have a fever.
    • If your dog or cat has these signs of illness, or you are concerned that your pet may have Salmonellainfection, please contact your pet’s veterinarian.
  • How can I report my dog’s illness if I think it’s related to pig ears?
  • Shop safely
    • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching unpackaged dog food or treats, including products in bulk bins or on store shelves.
  • Tips to stay healthy while feeding your dog
    • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after handling dog food or treats.
    • When possible, store dog food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from the reach of young children.
    • Don’t use your dog’s food bowl to scoop food. Use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon, or cup.
    • Always follow any storage instructions on dog food bags or containers.
  • Play safely after your dog eats
    • Don’t let your dog lick your mouth or face after it eats.
    • Don’t let your dog lick any open wounds or areas with broken skin.
    • If you do play with your dog after it has just eaten, wash your hands and any part of your body it licked with soap and water.
  • Take extra care around young children
    • Children younger than 5 should not touch or eat dog food or treats.
    • Young children are at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.
    • Adults should supervise handwashing for young children.
  • See our Pet Food Safety Infographic for more tips on staying healthy while caring for pets.

Advice to Pet Stores and Retailers Selling Pig Ears

  • Importers, suppliers, distributors, wholesalers, and other retailers should not sell any pig ear pet treats.
    • Remove pig ears from retail. This includes bulk bin and individually wrapped pig ears.
      • Throw them away in secure containers so that animals cannot get to them.
      • Retailers who choose not to immediately throw them away should securely and safely store packaged product until additional information is available.
    • Wash and sanitize any surfaces that have come in contact with pig ears. This includes bulk bins or shelves, other storage containers, and surfaces such as counters or displays. Advise employees and customers to wash hands after handling pet treats and food.
    • Additional information on specific companies supplying contaminated pig ears is not available at this time. However, information will be updated as it becomes available.


Several companies recalled pig ear products because they might be contaminated with Salmonella. Ongoing testing of pig ears indicates that many brands of pig ears might be contaminated with Salmonella.

No single supplier, distributor or common brand of pig ear treats has been identified that could account for all the illnesses. More products could be recalled as testing identifies Salmonella.

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection
Illustration of a person with stomach pain.
  • Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.
  • The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
  • In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonellainfection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
  • Children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.