The Dangers of Rawhide for Dogs

Rawhide chews have been given to dogs for years, but more recently the dangers have come to surface, and many pet owners are opting for safer alternatives. The truth is, rawhide can be deadly for your dog. Let's take a closer look at the ways that it can be harmful, and some of the safer alternatives that you may want to consider instead.

 

What exactly is rawhide? 

Rawhide comes from the inner layer of a cow's (or horse) hide. They take these sections and clean them and strip away all of the hair so that they are smooth and "edible." To make them "edible," they must be soaked in chemicals, so they can look pretty. Rawhide is not a bone at all; it is more like leather. Something about that doesn't sound like it would be the safest for your dog, and it isn't!

The Risks of Giving Your Dog Rawhide Chews

#1 - It Is a choking hazard

First and foremost, it is essential to know that your dog can choke to death from rawhide. Rawhide is designed for dogs to chew it until it turns into a soft, mushy texture so dogs can easily swallow the hide. Unfortunately, not all dogs are the same; therefore, all dogs chew differently.

Some dogs may chew a little at a time, and it may not run the risk of choking them, but other dogs tend to eat quite ferociously. For super chewers, this can pose a big problem. They may 'bite off more than they can chew,' so to speak. When this happens, it often leads to large pieces that your pup is unable to swallow. According to WebMD for pets, choking is the most significant danger that comes along with rawhide chews.

#2 - Rawhide can have contaminations

Rawhide is made from the skin of animals, so it is prone to contaminants like salmonella. Salmonella can not only make your dog sick, but it can make humans ill if they come into contact with it. Far too often these rawhide chews are put on a mandatory recall for being contaminated with salmonella. Dogs that are infected with salmonella may present with the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Dehydration

If you suspect that your dog has been exposed and is experiencing these symptoms, be sure to get them to your veterinarian right away!

#3 - It can lead to blockages in your dog's intestines

While rawhide can cause your dog to choke if they get a large piece, it is also essential to be aware of the fact that they can also get an internal blockage from them as well. These large pieces may not get stuck in their throat right away, but may later get lodged while going through their digestive tract. The pieces get stuck because rawhide swells up when it gets wet. Rawhide is, in fact, not digestible for this reason. If your dog does end up getting a blockage from rawhide, it is likely that your veterinarian will have to perform surgery to remove it. A blockage can lead to a painful recovery, and can also be pretty costly.

#4 - Rawhide is soaked in harsh chemicals

When you see rawhide in your local pet store, it usually looks stunning and 'natural,' but that isn't the case. Most rawhide is soaked in lots of chemicals before it is packaged and put on the shelf. The process of making rawhide starts by soaking it in sodium sulfide, or some other harsh chemical that helps to get rid of the hair on the hide. Once the hair is removed, the next process involves soaking the hides in a whitening solution such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide. After the rawhides are white, they are then enhanced with artistic painting to make them appear 'pretty.' No part of the rawhide chews process sounds safe for your pet, and that is because it isn't.

Safe Alternatives to Rawhides

While it is apparent why you wouldn't want to give your dog a rawhide chew, it doesn't change the fact that dogs are instinctive chewers. Without something safe for your dog to chew on, it is likely you will find your favorite pair of shoes chewed up in the hallway when you get in from work. The good news is that there are safe alternatives to rawhide that you can give your dog.

Here are a few that you may want to consider:

  1. Deer / Elk antler chews
  2. Bully sticks
  3. Dental chews
Deer / Elk antler chews

Great Dane eating elk antler chew

Deer and Elk antler chews are being used a lot these days as chew toys. While it may seem unconventional, it is safe for your dog. The antlers do not splinter, and they also don't have a distinctive smell to them like rawhides and other bones. As an added benefit, it is also great at keeping your dog's teeth free of plaque and different build up. You can get antlers that are naturally shed as well, which is the best option. Click here to see some of our naturally shed antlers that we have to offer!
 
Bully sticks
Bully sticks are made up of dried puzzles from bulls, or other animals. They do not present any risk of choking, which makes them a safe alternative. You can also get them in a variety of different shapes and sizes, much like you can rawhide chews. The problem is that they tend to stink badly and have a lot of calories. Nonetheless, bully sticks are safe and a healthy alternative to rawhide chews.
Dental Chews
Another commonly used alternative to rawhide is a dental chew. Dental chews come in a variety of flavors and can help to keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy. They can also help to freshen their breath, which is always a plus! 

 

Now that you know the risks of giving your dog rawhide go ahead and throw them out. Replace them with these safe alternatives so that you can rest assured your pup is not in harm's way.


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