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We’ve Got a Bone to Pick With Rawhide

Why Rawhide Is Bad for Dogs

a stack of rawhide dog chews

Rawhide is bad for dogs for a number of reasons. Topping the list of risks associated with rawhide are: contamination, digestive distress, choking hazard and intestinal blockage. These concerns are so big, that the Humane Society and ASPCA both discourage the consumption of rawhide for pets. Also, Petco recently announced it will no longer sell traditional rawhide in its stores.

While a popular dog chew, more information of its dangers has come to light in recent years. Of all the dog foods out there, rawhide can even be life-threatening.

Let’s take a deeper look into what rawhide is and why dog owners should avoid giving it to their pets.

Rawhide: What Is It, Anyway?

Other than a western-themed TV show from the early 1960s with a famously catchy theme song, rawhide is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s skin (typically from cows) that has not been tanned.

To get from cattle to dog treat form, the rawhide is processed in chemicals, cleaned in water, bleach (do you really want your dog ingesting toxic chemicals like bleach?), or hydrogen peroxide, and dried. Sometimes they are smoked for added flavoring.

Why is rawhide bad for dogs?

english bulldog chewing on a dog toy for chewing

Dogwood dog chew alternative to rawhide

For one, rawhide bones and rawhide chews are famous for causing issues to the digestive tract as well as intestinal blockage. They can even get stuck in the esophagus. Some dogs swallow such large pieces of it without chewing and end up at the ER vet. This requires the large chunks be removed via surgery.

Other reasons rawhide chews are bad for your dog include:

Contamination: Salmonella is a really big concern for this product. It’s not only a risk to your pets, but can be a risk to you if you come in contact with the chew. Between 2008 and 2011, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) held six MAJOR recalls of rawhide due to salmonella contamination and poisoning.

Dr. Michelle Burch of told Outward Hound: “Not all rawhides are made or produced equally, with some having bacterial contamination. The most common bacteria seen on rawhides are Campylobacter and Salmonella.”

Digestive Distress & Intestinal Blockage: When dogs swallow rawhide the effects can be dangerous. Rawhide swells in stomachs and can swell up to 4x it’s original size! This swelling, combined with the inability to digest this material, can cause blockage and indigestion for pets. Not to mention making it difficult for them to poop.

“Symptoms of intestinal obstruction can include continuous vomiting, lack of eating, and severely decreased energy. Treatment of intestinal obstruction typically involves surgical intervention,” said Dr. Burch.

Tooth damage: Your dog’s chewing rawhide treats is not great for their dental health, especially if you have a teething puppy or an aggressive chewer.

“While many owners give rawhides to their pets to help with dental health,” said Dr. Burch, “they may be causing more harm than benefit. If the rawhide is too hard, your dog’s teeth can get fractured while chewing.”

Antlers are similarly hard on your dog’s teeth. Best give your dog a dental chew that is actually made for cleaning tartar off the outer layer of their teeth.

Rawhide Alternatives

dog with a chew toy

Since there are more risks than benefits of rawhide, dog parents are better off looking for alternative pet treats like sweet potato chews or bully sticks at the pet store. There are many options out there without additives or preservatives that are easier for your pup to digest.

Chewing is a natural and healthy behavior for dogs. Virtually all puppies chew to explore the new world around them. This same behavior continues in adult dogs, but instead of exploration, dog chewing is a form of enjoyment and therapy for dogs as it satisfies nervousness and restlessness.

Many of our Petstages chew toys satisfy the natural instinct to chew, enhance dental health, dispense treats and keep dogs occupied.

In addition to long-standing favorite types of chews like Dogwood, Deerhorn and our Orka toys, we also have what we call NewHide!

What Is NewHide, You Ask?

Step aside, rawhide. NewHide is a rawhide alternative for dogs. It has none of the uncertain swelling properties of rawhide and has the taste of rawhide dogs love. Our team worked with veterinarians and pet parents to develop a dog chew solution to rawhide that is lead and phthalate-free.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Don’t put your dog’s health (or life) at risk. From yak chews to single-ingredient treats, there are safer ways to satisfy your dog’s chewing instincts.

If you think your dog is at-risk from eating rawhide or are not sure what alternatives to give them, talk to your veterinarian.

What are your dog’s favorite chew toys?

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