The Dangers of Rawhide

Written by: Lindsay Giguiere



Time to read 4 min

Our pets are our children and we want to ensure our efforts help support an active lifestyle from the early stages through the senior years. The food we choose, including treats and chews, has a lot to do with raising a healthy pup.

With so many choices, how do you know what’s really healthy and what’s hazardous? It seems everyone has a different opinion and what works for one dog may not work for another.

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As a pet parent, it’s extremely important to understand what your furry child is chewing and snacking on, just like it is with your human children. We have to constantly remind ourselves that just because a label says a product is natural, healthy, and beneficial to our pet, doesn’t mean it’s true. As a consumer, we demand transparency. Well, here’s the raw truth about your dog’s rawhide.

What’s Rawhide

We’ve all heard of it, but what exactly is it? Apparently, it’s a by-product of the Leather Industry. Leather industry? If you thought your dog’s rawhide had more of a meat origin, you’re not alone. They might be meat flavored but they’re actually the inner layer of cow or horse hides, which is a fancy word for skin. Mmmm...tasty.

Rawhide goes through a lot before it ends up in a colorful bag on the shelves for you to buy. When you really do some digging, it makes you cringe. Depending on the origin of the rawhide, it can begin with a chemical bath so it holds up better during shipping. You’ll notice rawhide doesn’t have hair on it so to remove it, a soak in more chemicals like an ash-lye solution is next. To clean the rawhide from these chemicals, bleach and hydrogen peroxide are used which also helps with the whitening process. Need I go on?

The Dangers of Rawhide

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Aside from the process described above, rawhide can be harmful in other ways. While this delicious snack may be good for your pet’s teeth and keep them busy for a while, they are a serious choking hazard. If your dog swallows a chunk that gets stuck in its throat  or somewhere else in the digestive tract, it can lead to blockage which can end in death.

Aside from blockage and choking, Fetch by WebMD says the risks of rawhide can also include contamination and digestive irritation. There may be traces of toxic chemicals and salmonella and your dog could have an allergy to rawhide or the substances used to manufacture it, causing diarrhea.

The truth is rawhide is a favorite amongst pets and pet owners. While there are dangers, there are also plenty of satisfied customers who don’t have any issues. There are a few things to consider when weighing the risks.

How big is your dog?

A small dog isn’t going to have the same bite strength as a larger dog. This means it may not be able to chew off large chunks, therefore, a rawhide chew may be fine.

Where are your dog’s rawhide chews made from?

It’s best to buy a rawhide product made in the U.S.A. where pet products are held to a higher standard than a foreign country. There will be more chemicals in the process of a foreign product than one from the states. This may mean a more expensive product but when you see the vet bill for removing pieces of rawhide from your dog’s stomach, you’ll wish you spent the few extra dollars at the pet store.

Can you monitor your dog?

Usually, one of the benefits of your dog playing with rawhide or any chew is to occupy them. You have things to do, places to be and people to see. It doesn’t seem very realistic to hang with your pup until the piece of rawhide becomes dangerously small and at the exact moment, be present to take it away before it’s swallowed.

You may be wondering why rawhides are still sold and why pet parents buy them. It all comes down to education. There are people products that are bad for us and we still buy them. Look at cigarettes. It literally says it can kill you on the packaging and people simply don’t care. Of course, aside from education, there is an addiction factor involved.

With a little research on what you’re feeding your pet, you’ll gain the power to make smarter choices. Unfortunately, the lifespan of a dog is way too short so why do anything to shorten that time we have with them?

Rawhide Alternatives

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Your dog won’t be missing out on not having rawhide chews. There are a myriad of other products that will bring just as much joy, without the worry. As mentioned, there are plenty of dogs who chomp on rawhide and live a long and healthy life. However, if there’s a chance that something you give your dog could be dangerous and potentially life-threatening, why take that risk?

Bully Sticks

Made from high-protein muscle, these dog chews are easily digested, don’t splinter, and can offer a ton of benefits like healthy teeth, without the warnings.

The downside of some bully sticks is a very unpleasant stinky smell, but your dog isn’t going to care. Let’s remember dogs lick their own tush. Did I mention that the high-protein muscle described above is bull penis. Yep. Chew on that.

Frozen Carrots

The best part of this alternative is it’s a carrot made with 100% carrot. You know you’re feeding your dog something natural and healthy, and freezing it will make it last longer and feel really good on gums, especially teething puppies.

Homemade Chews

If you’re wondering who has time to make their own dog treats and chews, we’re also wondering the same thing. If additives, chemicals, bleach, high-calories, and weird animal parts are your thing, there are plenty of products to choose from on the market. If you can find a company who can make treats and chews  for you as if you made them yourself, who is transparent and trustworthy, stick with that option.

While a piece of rawhide may seem like a harmless animal part, you now know that’s not the case. It makes you wonder how other pet products are made. Feed your pet with nutritious chews, treats, and food. and their tail will keep on wagging for years to come.

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