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The Hidden Hazards of Rawhide Chews for Dogs: An Informed Guide for Pet Owners

The Hidden Hazards of Rawhide Chews for Dogs: An Informed Guide for Pet Owners

The Hidden Hazards of Rawhide Chews for Dogs: An Informed Guide for Pet Owners

As dog owners, we always want the best for our furry friends, including treats that keep them happy and healthy. At this time of year you often see many Rawhide chews in the shops that are shaped and coloured with a Festive theme, but they come with hidden dangers that every pet owner should be aware of. This comprehensive guide delves into the risks associated with rawhide chews, helping you make an informed decision and hopefully pick a more natural treat.

What is Rawhide?

Rawhide chews are by-products of the leather industry, made from the inner layer of cow or horse hides. These chews undergo a chemical-intensive process involving treatments with salt brines, detergents, degreasers, and other chemicals, sometimes even including artificial colours and flavours.

Risks of Rawhide Chews

  • Intestinal Obstruction: Rawhide is meant for chewing, not eating.. However, dogs often swallow large pieces, which can cause blockages in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to serious health issues like vomiting, diarrhoea, and potentially life-threatening conditions requiring surgery. 
  • Choking Hazard: As rawhide gets softer and stringier with chewing, dogs can easily bite off and swallow large chunks, risking choking or obstruction in the oesophagus.
  • Digestibility Issues: Rawhide is not easily digested. Pieces that are swallowed can linger in the dog's stomach for months, leading to gastrointestinal discomfort or obstructions.
  • Tooth Damage: Contrary to the belief that rawhide cleans teeth, its hard and dense nature can actually lead to broken teeth, particularly in smaller breeds or dogs with weaker teeth.
  • Contamination Risks: Rawhide chews carry the risk of contamination with harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli, posing a health risk to both dogs and their owners.
  • Chemical Processing: This is the biggest hazard in my opinion -  The production of rawhide involves a multitude of chemicals, some of which are toxic. These include ash-lye solutions, hydrogen peroxide, and even formaldehyde, raising concerns about long-term health impacts. Why would anyone willingly feed this to a dog when there are better and cheaper options? 

Considering Your Dog’s Chewing Style

Every dog is different, and their chewing style should be considered when choosing treats. For powerful chewers, rawhide can pose a greater risk as they are more likely to break off and swallow large chunks. Softer chewers might handle rawhide better but it is still full of chemicals which are released even if not consumed.

The Myth of Dental Health

While it's often claimed that rawhide helps with dental health, the truth is that as rawhide softens during chewing, it loses any potential dental benefit and still poses a choking and blockage risk.

Safer Alternatives to Rawhide

Recreational Bones: These are raw bones that provide chewing entertainment and help clean teeth without the risks associated with rawhide. Pick bones which are appropriate in size for your dog and also avoid weight baring bones as these can be very hard and cause dental damage. Ribs are a good choice and available in many supermarkets. Bones should be frozen for 3 weeks prior to feeding to ensure any parasite or bacteria are killed.  Never give cooked bones.

Dried Meat Products: Natural dehydrated meat products like beef trachea or bully sticks are safer and more digestible alternatives to rawhide. You can buy these from most pet shops and your dog will love them. Always monitor to ensure they dont swallow big chunks. We recommend JR Pet products for a wide choice of proteins. 

Whatever you do - avoid Rawhide

Understanding the risks associated with rawhide chews is crucial for every dog owner. While they may provide temporary entertainment, the potential hazards far outweigh the benefits. Opting for safer, more natural alternatives can ensure that your dog enjoys their treats without compromising their health.