The Dangers of Rawhide

Rawhide treats are sold all over! How could something be so dangerous for your dog when sold in a cute stocking for Santa to bring during Christmas? Surely if Santa is bringing it, it must be safe. Oh so wrong! With so many pet products, toys and treats available in today’s market it is difficult to determine which ones are good for your new puppy or dog and those that may be harmful. At Homestead Designer Doodles we want to help you out and keep your puppy healthy for as long as possible!

The dangers of rawhide for your dog are simple:

Rawhide bones and other edible chews can pose a choking and blockage risk in your dog’s digestive system. In fact, it can pose a bigger risk than contamination or digestive irritation. If your dog swallows any large pieces of rawhide, it can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death. If you suspect a blockage call your veterinarian immediately.

To help you understand how it is made will ultimately help you to understand the risks.

How rawhide is made:

The rawhide chew is made from the inner layer of cow and horse hides that have been cut to size and flavored like beef or chicken. Producing rawhide begins with the splitting of an animal hide, usually from cattle. It is actually not made by the cattle or animal industry, but rather the “leather” industry. The top grain is generally tanned and made into leather products, while the inner portion, in its “raw” state, goes to the dogs. Removing the hair from hides often involves a highly toxic recipe which is what makes this doggy treat actually toxic. These hides are then treated with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport to prevent spoilage. The hides are soaked and treated with either an Ashley solution or a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulfide liming. This process will help strip the hair and fat that may be attached to the hides themselves.

In the post-tannery stage, hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach; which will also help remove any smell of rotten or putrid leather. After all, no one wants to purchase black, smelly or spoiled rawhide sticks.

This popular treat appeals to your dog’s natural instinct to chew on things and it comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. The industry uses ways to baste, smoke and decoratively tint these rawhide products by coloring them with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and/or with colors to make them all pretty for the pet store shelves.

But how does the industry get these products to last forever? Remember, these are leathers, and leathers are meant to last forever (which is why you don’t want your dog to ingest it!). But to seal it in, some tests have found: Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Chromium salts, Formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals. (Siting:

The Risk

Even though rawhide is promoted as an “all natural” treat, it does keep dogs entertained, perhaps even more so in its many basted, twisted, even brightly colored mutations (and to catch our attention in the store!).

If rawhide manufacturers were held to the same standard as drug makers, they’d be forced to add an equally long list of warnings on their labels: May cause stomach torsion, choking, vomiting, diarrhea (biggest one!), salmonella poisoning and exposure to various and unknown chemical residues. There is no quality control or regulations on these treats and we need to protect our animals to the best of our ability. While chews made from rawhide, bone or other animal parts are consumable, and are therefore considered “food” 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”.

The main risk that a rawhide chew poses to your dog is that it is a choking hazard. The nature of the material is tough and it doesn’t break down easily, leaving the potential for large pieces to get lodged inside of your dog’s throat. It can also get stuck in other parts of the digestive tract causing a life-threatening bowel obstruction. A secondary problem that can arise with these types of dog treats is that they can become contaminated with salmonella and E. coli, which may also affect your and other members of the household.

Chemical Ingredients

An additional, yet equally important, danger of these treats is the chemical process that it is used to make the product. This consists of sodium sulfide liming and hydrogen peroxide whitening treatment. As your dog chews, the compounds inside this product are released into their system and can potentially lead to future health problems. Other dangerous chemicals that have been known to show up in these chews are arsenic and formaldehyde, neither of which belong anywhere near your healthy puppy.

Treat Selection

The good news of this article? There are plenty of other treats out there that your dog will equally (or more so) LOVE! Your puppy depends on you to make the best choices for their health and well-being and choosing the appropriate dog treat. They will thank you for years to come as they enjoy safer, more appropriate treats that have less possibility for health hazards and complications. Please let us help you and check out our list of Preferred Dog Treats under our resource page