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Is Rawhide safe for dogs and what is it?

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Short answer? It’s not great.

You may be one of the plethora of people who use rawhide chews for their dog on a regular basis and can probably protest that you’ve never had an issue. If you are that’s great. On the other hand, though, many people have seen and suffered the dangers of rawhide.

Rawhide is a popular chew for many dogs/dog owners, they’re cheap, easily obtainable, and flavoured making them a sure-fire win for entertaining your dog. What you may not know, however, is the potential dangers, or composition, rawhide presents to your dog and their overall health.

This post will go over the risks, the makeup, and alternatives and hopefully will give you a better understanding of the product. So…

What is rawhide?

long-coated white and black dog biting wood while lying on grass during daytime

Picture by Erik Odin

I’m sure we don’t need to explain what a rawhide chew is as these have been readily available chew to dog owners for numerous years. So we’ll explain their makeup.

They make rawhide from the leftover inner layers of animal hides – the parts that wouldn’t be good enough for your leather wallet, handbag, or shoes. Pretty shocking, right?

Here’s the process: First, they clean the hides, cut them up, and shape them into different sizes and styles. Then, they treat them with chemicals to keep them from rotting and make them soft enough to mould. Finally, they often add flavours like chicken or beef to make rawhide chews extra tempting for your dog

Due to the nature of the processing and materials used in rawhide. It can pose a choking hazard for dogs, especially if they try to swallow large pieces, as rawhide doesn’t naturally break down in your dog’s intestinal tract. This is fairly rare, but ultimately this risk can lead to your dog needing medical assistance which can be costly and risky.

What other risks are present?

In addition to the risk of choking and blockages, rawhide can also be contaminated with harmful bacteria. This is because the manufacturing process for rawhide involves treating animal hides with chemicals, which can leave behind residue that can be harmful to dogs. If rawhide is not properly cleaned and stored, it can also become contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella, which can cause serious illness in dogs.

Another issue, is rawhide, being made of animal hide, is prone to become wet. This then leads to the chew becoming soft through vigorous chewing, then re-hardening. This may not sound like an issue, but given the nature of bacteria (read above) which can lead to illness, but also that as the chew re-hardens the jagged edges can become rather sharp. As your dog returns to their favourite chew, the jagged edges are prone to cut and damage your dog’s gums. Leading to bleeding and potential vet visits (more rare admittedly but still something to bear in mind).

As we’ve mentioned above rawhide can be difficult for some dogs to digest. This can lead to digestive problems such as diarrhoea or vomiting, which can be uncomfortable for the dog and messy for the owner. Some dogs may also develop allergies or sensitivities to rawhide, which can cause skin irritation, itching, and other symptoms.

Sounds scary, what else can I use?

We are talking extremes here. As I have said, people have experienced no issues with rawhide and believe it’s a safe chew for dogs. With other alternatives to rawhide readily, and easily accessible in today’s market, rawhide really has no place in your dog’s enrichment routine.

A lot of people are now seeing the true benefits of Antlers and natural treats, with them being featured more and more in pet shops across the world. See our blog Are Antlers Safe for Dogs. Natural treats and antlers are healthy, easily digestible, and relatively cheap and can do wonders for your dog’s overall health, leading to improved gum health, joint health and improved skin condition.

In conclusion, this article/blog may sound scary, but that isn’t our mission here. We want you to have the information about what you give your dog. Ultimately, you know your dog and what is best, and if you’ve read this and considered looking at alternatives, great. If you want more information or have more questions, speak to your vet. This has been the worst-case scenario regarding rawhide, but speaking to your vet about what you should give your dog is never a bad thing

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  1. Pingback: Are Antlers Safe For Dogs? - Woof and Purr

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