Rawhide For Dogs – Is It A Good Thing?
We all know that dogs love to chew chair legs, the remote control or your slippers. Rawhide for dogs would seem to be the answer. Those puppy teeth need to be eased out, for an older dog, the tartar is kept at bay and the mouth is helped to stay healthy.
Chewing is natural for a dog and often relieves anxiety. So it would seem to be a good idea to let them have something that is meant to be chewed. Most of us think of rawhide as associated with the great outdoors, the American cattle ranchers and cowboys but the modern term might have more to it than meets the eye.
What Is Modern Rawhide for Dogs?
The more information that you have makes it easier to decide whether to use these rawhide treats or not. The items available have usually been made from the rest of the hide once the leather top layer has been taken away. The rest is chopped up and cleaned before being pressed into the shapes we see in the shops.
Dangers in The Process
- The process is not governed by bodies like AAFCO in America which regulates the dog food industry.
- The cleaning process can include peroxide, arsenical products, formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals.
- It may still contain toxins even when the cleaning process is finished.
The risk is very small that there will be toxins that can carry bugs like E. coli and Salmonella but they are there. It pays to always wash hands after handling the chewed product and if you have children it may be better to avoid the situation altogether. Having said that, the number of rawhide treats consumed each year is enormous and the problems seem to be very few.
Dangers in the Use
Because these chews are often flavored with chicken and other enticing smells, you will find that most dogs love them but there are one or two precautions you should take.
- Always be present with the pet and the chew.
- If the piece becomes smaller take it away and replace it before it lodges in the throat and causes the dog to choke.
- If the small pieces lodge in the intestine, they can cause blockages and very serious consequences.
The Horror Story
It is widely reported in the USA that sometimes skin from dogs that have been brutally killed in countries like Thailand are sometimes added to the cowhide and marketed as rawhide chews. The link to The Dogington Post is at the foot of the page. It is down to you which treats you buy for your dog and lots of people ignore the background to these treats because the dogs enjoy them so much.
- Some countries are less safety conscious than others and if the product is made in a country that might cut corners, avoid the chew.
- There are some chews made from beef instead of the hide- probably a better idea.
- There are some made from layers of cowhide put together under great pressure and these last longer than the others. They are often better quality as well.
- The smaller the dog, the smaller number of chews. Don’t give too many treats of any sort. It is so easy to spoil that precious companion.
- Separate the dogs from other dogs when giving treats- no squabbling and you can see how the pup reacts. If he takes big chunks and swallows them, take away the treat and look for something else.
- Monitor the pet- if his tummy is upset, try a different type.
- Keep two chews and swap them when one becomes soft. It will harden when left and can be used again.
Watch out for any signs of digestive upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, regurgitation and a refusal to eat. This may be the sign that something is wrong. Some dogs are prone to stomach irritations and for these, the chews may just have to be withheld.
1. Bully sticks are made from whole beef and marketed as an alternative to rawhide snacks. The reviews for these products are reassuring and they are sold as healthy and whole food with no chemicals or hormones.
*** Suitable for smaller dogs
2. There are rubber, hard wearing toys that can be filled with treats that keep the pup interested.
3. Purpose made chews that are marketed as good for teeth. These do not last as long as a rawhide chew but the dogs do love them and they do the trick of helping remove plaque.
Videos on Youtube can be a useful source of information
In The End
It is your choice and you decide if rawhide for dogs is a good thing. Read the label and if worried, consult your vet. The dog is precious and worth taking a little time to work out what is best.