Rawhide: Good or Bad?

Puppy & ChewySo just what is rawhide, anyway?

The name explains it rather well: Rawhide is the inner layer of horse/cow/buffalo hides. Hair is removed off this skin by an Ash-Lye solution or a Lime solution. “The Lime solution is the quickest and most often utilized by manufacturers. This process is highly caustic but the most efficient for mass production.” Afterward, the rawhide is cut up and pressed into chewable dog treats. Flavor/color  may be added, such as chicken or liver or even peanut butter.

Researching the positives I found only three:
1. The natural instinct to chew is satisfied by a rawhide
2. Dental health usually benefits from chewing, cleaning the tartar and plaque off teeth
3. Better breath (due to less teeth decay and less plaque)

Now, the long list of negatives:
1. Can cause tooth damage
Pressed rawhide is harder to chew, and sometimes fractures/breaks teeth. Sometimes a slab or tip fracture is fine, but painful initially, and some abscess, getting grossly infected and painful. Bones, hard solid-colored nylabones, and other objects harder than teeth can also cause fractures.

2. Trace amounts of toxic chemicals
The more dogs lick, chew and swallow the material, the greater their exposure to any contaminants it contains. Manufacturers don’t have to follow FDA rules because “under FDA law, as long as the label contains no reference to nutritional value (such as “high protein”), the agency advises that manufacturers “may not have to follow the AAFCO pet food regulations.”-FDA.

3.The biggest problem is choking/blockage from breaking off a piece that is too big. Rawhide can swell up to four times its original size! “The rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Depending on its size and where it is located, a vet may be able to remove these pieces fairly easily through the throat. But sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.” – Webmd.

4. Diarrhea due to a sensitive digestive system

5. Salmonella poisoning

6. Some products from China have been causing the death of hundreds of dogs over the last decade. China does not have an FDA for animal products. The recommendation from the veterinary community is to AVOID FEEDING TREATS made in china.

If your puppy or dog needs to chew, here are a few alternatives to rawhide: Naturally shed deer/elk antlers. Greenies, Bully Sticks, Nylabones that specifically say “Made in the USA,” bones from the butcher (make sure to roast them first to kill off any bacteria).

Happy chewing!