Are Rawhide Chews Bad for Dogs?
We all want what’s best for our pets. Dogs love to chew, so what better than to give them something to chew on?
Popular opinion suggests that Rawhide Chews are downright dangerous, that they are full of chemical nasties due to the processes involved in their manufacture.
“Rawhide chews are made from the leather industry’s leftovers. Most hides are taken directly from the kill floors at slaughterhouses and placed into high-salt brines, which helps slow their decay. Most rawhide chews are manufactured in China, and it can take weeks to months before these brined hides actually make it to the tanneries for their final manufacture. Once the hide arrives at a tannery, it is soaked and treated with lime to help separate the fat from the skin, the hair is removed by chemical and physical efforts, and the hide is rinsed again. Unfortunately, the salt brines cannot prevent decay, no matter how long they delay it. It is best to fully rinse a rawhide in water prior to giving it to your dog.”
There is, however, a report by British vet Dr Pippa Elliott, which makes uncomfortable reading:
“Rawhide does not dissolve in a dog’s stomach — in fact, it swells up. So make sure you know about the dangers of rawhide chews before giving your dog one.”
She goes on to say:
“Here’s a question for you that may help illustrate the dangers of rawhide chews: How digestible is shoe leather?
Answer: Not very.
So is it a surprise to learn that rawhide is arguably even less digestible?
Plus, rawhide goes through more bleaching processes and is soaked in more chemicals than shoe leather.
All of which makes it even more surprising that rawhide chews are such popular treats for dogs. But the dangers of rawhide chews don’t stop there. The dangers to pets also include:
- Gut obstruction
- Food poisoning (for both pets and people)
- The ingestion of toxic chemicals
If you regularly give your dog rawhide chews, then you may want to reconsider that decision.”
Dr Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, is a veterinarian with nearly 30 years of experience in companion animal practice. Dr Elliott earned her Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery from the University of Glasgow. She was also designated a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Married with 2 grown-up kids, Dr. Elliott has a naughty Puggle named Poggle, 3 cats and a bearded dragon.
We do know that a lot of popular dog treats and even dog foods that claim to be “best for your dog” and “healthy” are actually far from it. So it’s not just Rawhide Chews that are the problem. Even many of the well-known brands of dog food are the equivalent of giving your pet McDonalds every day! Take a look at All About Dog Food – and prepare to be shocked!
As the definitive proof may not be as readily available as perhaps it should be, do Rawhide Chews deserve the bad press they have been getting? Well, we believe so.
Even this American website, “Dog Chews Rawhide“, which is trying to extol the virtues of American Rawhide Chews is enough to send shivers up your spine!
“The first step in making rawhide chews is transportation of animal’s hide to processing plants where it is split, washed with degreasers and detergents, and cleaned. The completely clean rawhide is then sterilized in hydrogen peroxide at the required temperature for the required amount of time. This also has a desired side effect of making the rawhide the yellow-white color you are familiar with.”
Our personal experience is supported by Dr Pippa Elliott’s view. Tracey’s Guide Dog Oakley, a dog generally with a “stomach of steel” and “JCB jaws” really struggled to chew Rawhide treats in the initial stages because it turned slimy and gooey. Then, being a greedy Labrador he would bite off big chunks and try to swallow them.
He would gag in the process. Very often he would succeed in semi-swallowing them, resulting in him gagging and bringing it back up. Any that was swallowed was passed through (eventually) undigested. Often upsetting him on the way. We soon learned our lesson and stopped giving them to him.
So what is a Healthy Chew?
Here at The Doggie Boat we choose what Dog Treats we stock very carefully. Originally we started by stocking JR Pet Products treats – and, indeed, these are still the mainstay of our range. However, we have also added products from Green & Wild as well as Betty Miller.
These are just pure product, which have not undergone any chemical treatment of any sort, that are then naturally Air Dried. Not baked or cooked.
Unlike Rawhide Chews, there are no added flavours and nothing is done to them to colour them in any way. They are just pure, natural air-dried, fully digestible meat treats.
If you want to give your dog something more substantial, then there is, of course, the Ostrich Bone. Pure bone. Air Dried. So it doesn’t splinter into anything harmful like the roasted bones that are available. And again, they are fully digestible.
For something different, if your dog really loves to chew, then the Green & Wild’s Olivewood Chews and Chew Roots hit the spot. They really satisfy the gnawing instincts that most dogs have, but safely. These woods are chosen carefully as they do not splinter into harmful or dangerous spikes that can get stuck in a dog’s mouth, throat or even stomach or intestines. Indeed, they just break down into fine crumbs, which pass through the digestive system safely.
We don’t stock Antlers, as there are too many reports of dogs breaking their teeth on them because they are too hard. However, we do stock Buffalo Horns, which we are assured are less risky for a dog to chew on. They also have the advantage that, being hollow, they can be stuffed!
Don’t be taken in by Fancy Packaging!
It’s that time of year where the brightly coloured, festive looking dog treats appear on the shelves. Like other Christmas packaging, they are there to tempt you to part with your money.
Pet Shops and Supermarkets know that this is the time of year when people are more susceptible to spending money on things that LOOK good rather than the things that ARE good.
Many people will have a new puppy for Christmas. Friends will want to buy their friends’ dogs presents. The time is ripe for the fancy packaging, which is often poorly labelled, to tempt you into buying something that is not good for the dog.
So, before you buy, take a look at the ingredients list. It may be hard to find, sometimes. The harder it is to find, the less likely the product is to be suitable. Look out for added sugars, colourants and flavourings. And as for those Rawhide Chews? Our advice is leave them on the shelves and buy something that is definitely healthy. Your dog deserves it!