Why Vets Say “No” To Rawhide Products For Dogs
Some folks have mentioned the dangers of rawhide toys and chews, but why are these so dangerous? To best understand just what your dog is chewing, I’ve learned rawhide products can cause dogs to contract bacteria, get digestive problems, block their digestive tract, choke, and more.
Consider these treats from EcoKind as an option instead of rawhide treats as you read on.
What Are Rawhide Products For Dogs Made Of?
The process starts with the slaughter of an animal and the removal of their hide. The hide is given a bath in chemicals, so the skin doesn’t rot before being processed. Next, the hair and fat are stripped away with sodium sulfide lime or ash-lye. To help puff the hide, more chemicals are added to split the layers easier.
After all these chemical baths remove the hair, fat, and to puff the skin up, then comes bleaching and whitening. Next, the inner layer of the hide is washed in hydrogen peroxide, chemicals, or bleach. As a result of this, the hide whitens and doesn’t smell like rotten leather. The last step is to make it look appealing, so you buy it for your dog. Finally, the rawhide is treated with beef, chicken or liver flavor and colored with a variety of chemicals such as sodium benzoate, titanium oxide, and FD&C and Red 40, which are known carcinogens.
So, the treat your dog is chewing on with such enthusiasm has been soaked in ash-lye. To make it look appealing, chemical preservatives are added, chemicals to puff it up, colored, and then a flavor added. Therefore, the problem with these chews is more than a slow exposure to chemicals, but also, the rawhide can choke your dog and cause blocked bowels as well. Hence, rawhide is a chemically enhanced treat made of non-digestible material.
Are There Any Benefits From Rawhide Treats?
Dogs have a natural instinct to chew (anything at times). My dogs will chew for hours given the right chew treat or toy.
Dental benefits. Teeth and gums are strengthened with the chewing process. Wild dogs are natural hunters and will sink their teeth into their prey and tug away the hide to get to the meat. It is at this point that the teeth and gums are bolstered, and their breath is freshened.
Domesticated dogs no longer use their teeth to tear through a skin layer to feed, so the bacteria that remains (without the cleaning process) turns into plaque. When plaque is not removed, over time, this will become a disease that will escalate into infections and even kidney and heart problems. By chewing on rawhide bones and other products, it resembles the prey of the wild dogs, and chewing these will act the same, removing plaque, cleaning teeth, keep breath clear and ultimately reduce the risks of further dental problems.
Behavior benefits. The desire to always chew can affect your furniture, chords, and footwear items. Rawhide chews will focus the dog’s attention on the bone, toys, and other products instead of other household items. The chews will train their behavior and give them a chewing outlet.
Stimulating benefits. Chewing entertains your dog for hours and keeps them stimulated and occupied. This is particularly important for the mature dogs who may not be as active.
Relieves pain. Chewing rawhide bones relieves teething pain in puppies and stimulates the growth of adult teeth.
How Does Rawhide Affect Your Dog?
When your dog chews on rawhide, he chews on it until it softens and macerates. When it’s soft enough, your dog pulls small chunks of the rawhide away from the main piece and swallows it. Since rawhide is difficult to digest, it travels through your dog’s digestive tract until it’s eliminated. But since the rawhide doesn’t dissolve in your dog’s stomach acid, as a result, it swells up in your dog’s intestine putting your pet at risk for bowel blockage.
What Are The Risks Associated With Rawhide Dog Treats?
Risks for dogs consuming rawhide treats can range from relatively small to very serious, depending upon the dog. So, you should not ignore the risks but instead understand them and decide whether the benefits out way the risks.
These are a few of the rawhide risks:
- Contamination. As was discussed at the beginning of this writeup, the added chemicals used to develop the rawhide products can contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals. These chemicals in foods can create Salmonella or E. coli contamination. The E. coli bacteria is a possible risk to the dogs as well as humans.
- Digestive problems. Dogs are known to be sensitive to the materials that make up rawhide chews. The sensitivity can escalate to intestinal problems and result in diarrhea.
- Choking or blockage. When your dog swallows pieces of rawhide, it is possible that some pieces can be lodged in the dog’s esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. As a result of this happening, there are many levels of risk posed here. The first risk is if bones are swallowed, it can cause choking and blockage to the airways, and if not removed, death can occur.
- Intestinal blockage. Intestinal obstruction might occur if pieces of rawhide are swallowed, If this occurs, the rawhide might get lodged in the dog’s gut, and it can become a severe life-threatening issue. The blockage will not only keep food from moving along to be digested, but it can also cause damage to the walls of the bowel. Consequently, the damage to the wall of the intestine can cause severe sepsis and even death.
How Do I Make Rawhide Chews Safe For My Dog?
Offering rawhide chews to your dog is a personal decision and risk. However, there are precautions you can take to mitigate the risk of your dog being contaminated. Clean up after handling the treats and keep all family members with immune system problems away from handling any of the treats.
To protect your dog:
- Before giving your dog rawhide chews and treats, check with your veterinarian for recommendations as to what to give your dog, and the amount. It’s generally the recommendation that the smaller the dog, the fewer the chews.
- Offer the chew to your dog while at rest and away from other animals to avoid them from gulping large pieces as they defend their treat from the other pets.
- Offer various types of rawhide, but be sure to supervise to ensure your dog is enjoying the treat without having reactions to it.
- When offering the rawhide chew, be observant for any of the symptoms that might reflect your dog’s health is at risk.
Look for signs of bacterial contamination, gastric irritation, or a blockage. If any of these symptoms are detected, see your veterinarian immediately:
- Repeated swallowing
- Diarrhea, with or without blood
- Signs of pain
Dogs That Should Avoid Consuming Rawhide Treats
Ask yourself the following questions, and if your response endangers your dog, then rawhide treats are not for them.
- Does your dog have digestive problems?
- Is your dog susceptible to getting diarrhea?
- Is it a common habit that your dog swallows large chunks of food?
No matter whether your dog has troubles chewing rawhide, you might try a variety of different chewing treats and toys, including natural marrow bones, rawhide, and solid rubber toys to satisfy your dog’s chewing and other needs.
Alternatives to Rawhide Toys and Chews
Consider a healthier treat and chew alternative from EcoKind. My dogs are fond of the bully sticks and the yak milk chews.
Some other alternative suggestions to giving your dog rawhide toys and chews are:
- Veggies: feed your dog green beans, carrots, apples or cabbage stalks
- Nylabones: these bones dissolve into rice-size digestible pieces. But don’t let your dog swallow one whole. Remove it when it’s getting too small.
- Yak chews (see EcoKind): these are made from yak milk and are safe but remove small pieces before the dog swallows them.
- Dental chews: As long as big chunks aren’t swallowed, they’re safe.
I hope this article can provide enough information if you decide to give your dog rawhide bones and toys to keep you both happy and healthy.
Video: Dogologist Canton, CT
Video: Facebook Dr. Karen Becker