What dog doesn't like to chew? Chewing is a natural and healthy tendency for almost every dog, but finding the right thing for your dog to chew on can be tricky. Rawhides are a very popular and cheap product that dogs seem to love, but there is some controversy as to whether or not they are really safe. Here I'll tell you about the dangers of rawhide, and let you choose for yourself whether or not it's worth the risk.
What are rawhides in the first place? Rawhides are exactly how they sound, the inner hide of a animal, usually cow. They could also come from pigs, sheep, buffalo or horse. The rawhide is soaked in a solution to remove the fur and fat. In the U.S. rawhides are usually cleaned with water or hydrogen peroxide or bleached. Outside the U.S. the rawhide is bathed in an array of chemicals for preservation. Arsenic and Formaldehyde are even used in some places. Then some are bathed in yet more chemicals for flavor.. and finally.. into your beloved pooches mouth!
With that in mind, what are the dangers of rawhides? The cheep rawhides you find at the dollar store/grocery store or wherever else have obvious dangers like chemical content and durability, as the cheep rawhides are usually either very hard or very brittle. If the hide is hard enough your dog can chip a tooth on it, or break a took completely off. If the rawhide is too brittle it can come off in sharp pieces, dangerous if ingested. But even well manufactured rawhides have their dangers. Have you ever watched a dog gulp down a treat in a few bites? This is exactly what tends to happen with some dogs when it comes to rawhides, they chew until the hide is soft and malleable, and swallow the entire thing whole. Just because your dog was able to swallow the piece of hide doesn't mean it will get through the digestive tract without getting stuck or doing some damage. It isn't uncommon for dogs to be rushed into a vet and getting emergency surgery to remove a rawhide blockage in the small intestines. Another scary possibility is for your dog to choke on the rawhide. I personally have had this happen before, and have had to put my entire hand down my dogs throat in order to get the rawhide out.
Rawhides also tend to give more sensitive dogs diarrhea or cause them to vomit. If you notice a pattern of loose stools after giving your dog rawhide, you probably have found the cause.
If, despite the risks, you decide to give your dog rawhides, make sure you invest in good ones made in the U.S. and unflavored. Rawhides do have their benefits, such as cleaning teeth and affordability. But for many dogs, the risks outweigh the benefits. Most importantly, if you do decide to give your dog rawhide, never let him chew it unsupervised. That's when accidents happen.