Most dog owners have heard of rawhide with some giving it to their dogs and others completely avoiding it. So we take a look at whether it is good or bad for your pups....
What is rawhide?
Rawhide is not a natural chew. It is manufactured from the inner layer of cow or horse hides (skin). It can be purchased in many different shapes, sizes and flavours but essentially it is made from the leftovers from the leather industry.
How is it made?
Once the hide has been taken from the animal (which may be any animal used in the leather industry) it is placed in brine to slow down the decaying process. The fat and hair is then removed using highly-toxic chemicals before it is puffed up, using even more chemicals, to separate the inner and outer layer. This inner layer, which will become the rawhide, is washed with hydrogen peroxide and bleach to whiten and remove the decaying (rotting) smell.
The whitened layers are coloured and decorated in order to be more appealing to the customer. During this process even more chemicals are used; including some known to cause health issues in humans. To form shapes such as bones, braids and rings manufacturers often use glue. The final process is preservation; using chemicals like formaldehyde the rawhide is treated in order to extend the shelf life of the product.
What are the risks?There are many documented risks associated with the consumption of rawhide. These include:
- choking hazards & intestinal blockages - These are the biggest concerns. If large pieces are swallowed they can become lodged in the oesophagus or digestive tract. These may be easy to remove but sometimes, abdominal surgery is required. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.
- digestive issues - allergy & sensitivity to the chemical used can cause issues such as diarrhoea
- contamination - in the form of Salmonella or E. coli and be passed on to humans
Rawhide is not a natural product, which is evident from the numerous dangerous chemicals used to produce it. As rawhide is not classed as a food product there is little to no regulation into the manufacturing process.
How can it be made safe to give to your dog?
Many owners give their dogs rawhide and never experience any issues. If you are considering giving it or already give it to your dog it is essential to ensure you minimise the risks as much as possible. This can include liaising with your vet for advice on how much is safe to give and in what size pieces, separate dogs when eating to avoiding territorial gulping of large pieces, start off slowly and supervise your dog at all times, take the rawhide away once it is small enough to swallow whole, monitor for signs of bacterial contamination, gastric irritation, or a blockage. Contact your Vet immediately if you have any concerns.
What alternatives are there?
Ultimately, your dog is your responsibility if you choose to give rawhide all we ask is you do so with caution, supervise your dog and contact your vet for advice.
Thanks for reading 😊