My dog loves him some rawhide treats, but my friend said they were dangerous. Seriously, is rawhide bad for dogs? Have we been wrong all along in feeding these classic dog treats to our best friends? Holy crap, am I slowly killing my dog with these things?! So many questions – let’s dig a bet deeper…
So, is rawhide bad for dogs? Rawhide can be bad for dogs because there are many chemicals used to clean and process rawhide. These can include Hydrogen Peroxide, Arsenic, Mercury, Lead and Formaldehyde. There are also dangers associated with choking and intestinal blockages.
It is important to remember that some rawhide chews are better than others. If you choose your rawhide chew carefully, any dangers are much reduced. Rawhide chews that come from U.S. manufacturers are subject to strict quality control. Buying a rawhide chew from a well known American brand is safest. Bone Buddies and American Rawhide are manufacturers who keep their beef hides refrigerated. This means there is no need for chemical preservatives.
There have been reports that some rawhide treats were actually made from dog skin. Humane Society International reported that in Thailand, dogs got killed for their skins. Rawhide toys were then created out of the skins. These chew toys were then, allegedly sold on the U.S. market.
Why is Rawhide Bad for Dogs? (5 Reasons)
The main reason that rawhide can be bad for dogs is not chewing enough and swallowing too fast.
This causes the treat to break into large pieces. If a dog swallows these pieces without chewing properly, this could cause blockages. The rawhide pieces may block the digestive tract. In serious cases this could lead to surgery or even death.
Rawhide treats are sometimes contaminated.
Not only with the hazardous chemicals used to clean and process them, but also with bacteria. Traces of Salmonella and E. coli have been found on rawhide chews.
This is not only dangerous for dogs, but also for humans who pick up the bacteria from their dog’s toys.
Rawhide is more dangerous for some dogs than others.
Some dogs (I’m looking at you, Pitbulls and Labradors) eat their treats very quickly with minimal chewing. These breeds miss out on the dental benefits of rawhide. And they are also more likely to swallow it in big pieces. This could lead to blockages in the stomach, intestine or esophagus.
Rawhide treats can cause allergic reactions in sensitive dogs.
Rawhide usually comes from the skin of horses or cows. The treats are often flavored with chicken, pork, or beef. If your dog has ever suffered allergies to any of these things, they may react to their rawhide treat.
Dogs who are allergic to rawhide could suffer many different symptoms. Skin problems and hair loss are common reactions. Upset stomachs and diarrhea can also be a symptom of sensitivity to rawhide treats.
Rawhide treats are hard to chew. This helps to clean your dog’s teeth, but can also lead to fractured or broken teeth. If broken teeth are not treated, they could become infected.
Obviously, take your dog for a dental checkup if you think he may have suffered tooth damage.
Pressed rawhide is more likely to break your dog’s teeth than regular rawhide, because it is much harder to chew.
Can I Reduce the Risks of Rawhide?
The danger of your dog becoming unwell after eating a rawhide treat is very small. The problem is that, if your dog becomes unwell, things could get serious if you are not vigilant.
It is wise to consider how at risk your dog is before you feed him rawhide. If he is one of those dogs that bolts his food, or he has possible allergies, it may be safer to avoid rawhide treats. It is also a good idea to consider where you buy your rawhide treats.
If you buy your dog’s treats from a reliable source, the dangers are much reduced. But, even from a trustworthy retailer, rawhide feeding instructions always recommend supervision.
To reduce the risks from rawhide chews, you should consider the age of your dog when choosing treat sizes:
- Older dogs and puppies often have soft mouths.
- An adult dog in the prime of life will chew more aggressively. This can mean they break their chew into large pieces and increase their risk of choking.
Dogs that chew more softly also chew more safely. This is because the rawhide breaks down into safer, bite-size pieces.
Do not give a rawhide treat to a dog who is less than six months old.
The American Kennel Club says that choosing a small treat for a small dog means it is more manageable for them. Any potential health risks decline when you choose the right size treat for your dog.
Observation is the best way to reduce the dangers of rawhide.
If you notice your dog is chewing a small piece of rawhide that he could easily swallow, it is a good idea to take it away. If your pet swallows these pieces, they could soon become stuck in your dog’s throat.
If you have more than one dog, give them their rawhide treats at the same time. If your dogs are in competition, they are likely to bolt their rawhide treats as quickly as possible. This could lead to choking.
Every dog owner should know the warning signs that your dog is choking.
If you notice he is unable to swallow, this could mean he has something stuck in his throat. Other signs to watch out for include pawing at the mouth and excessive drooling.
Is Rawhide Good For Dogs?
The main argument for chewing rawhide are the dental benefits. Some say that chewing rawhide is a useful addition to your dog’s dental routine because it can help clean your dog’s teeth.
The chewing action required by these hard treats help to remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth. The treats can also help to keep your dog’s breath fresh. It is also said that rawhide treats are good for puppies who are teething.
Dog owners often give their dogs a rawhide chew, so they are less tempted to chew shoes or the couch!
The chewing instinct is natural for dogs. If your dog has a treat to chew on, he will be less anxious. Chewing for long periods of time is stimulating for dogs. Young dogs and puppies must have something to chew on to keep them happy.
Some say that giving your dog a rawhide treat gives him a way to focus his instinctive desire to chew. Having a treat to chew means he has less time and inclination to destroy your belongings.
There are limits to the dental benefits of rawhide. Vets say that to start with, rawhide is hard. So as dogs chew, their teeth get scrubbed clean. But soon, the consistency changes. The rawhide becomes soft and slimy. Dog’s will usually continue to chew the rawhide once it has softened. But from this point, the rawhide is no longer cleaning your dog’s teeth. There is also a greater danger of intestinal blockages.
Carrots give your dog plenty of chewing-action. They are rich in vitamins and low in calories. Also, freezing your carrots will make them last a lot longer. Large uncooked bones are very nutritious and sweet potatoes are good for digestion. These chewable treats are healthy, but you still need to watch your dog while he is chewing.
Rawhide does not digest like regular dog food. It can actually swell up in a dog’s stomach and is even more difficult to pass through the bowel. And if your dog doesn’t chew their rawhide treat into small pieces, it could damage the bowel.