It’s nearly impossible to walk down the pet aisle at the supermarket without seeing a section for rawhide treats. Coming in all shapes in sizes – from bones, to sticks, to circles – it is a widely popular treat for dogs. Not only do they keep dogs busy, dogs absolutely love them. But, is it really safe? Let’s take a deeper look into the world of this tasty treat.
What is rawhide?
Rawhide is made from the inner layer of horse or cow hides. When making it, the hides are cleaned then cut or ground. From there, they are pressed into chewable treats for dogs. Some treats contain chicken, beef, or liver flavoring to make them more appealing to pups.
What are the benefits of rawhide?
Dogs have a natural instinct to chew. They need to chew and some will spend hours upon hours chewing on anything they can get their paws on. Chewing provides mental stimulation and can help relieve anxiety. Since many of these treats are large and take a while to chew, it helps occupy your pup. Puppies can benefit from it, especially when used as alternative to shoes.
Rawhide is also helpful in managing your dog’s dental hygiene. Chewing it keeps their teeth clean, jaw strong, and their breath fresher. Pups that regularly chew on this treat tend to have less plaque and tarter build-up on their teeth.
What are the risks of rawhide?
Though many dogs can consume rawhide regularly without any issues, there are certain risks – some serious – that dog owners need to watch out for.
One risk is contamination. Rawhide, like other pet toys, can contain small amounts of toxic chemicals. Furthermore, Salmonella or E. coli contamination is also a possibility. Humans can even be at risk if they come into contact with contaminated rawhide.
Another risk is digestive irritation. Some dogs can simply be allergic or sensitive to rawhide (or other ingredients used to manufacture the product) and can suffer from digestive problems like vomiting or diarrhoea.
A third, and probably the biggest, risk is choking or blockages. Some dogs don’t know how to properly chew a rawhide and will attempt to swallow large pieces. If this happens, it can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. If it isn’t too large of a piece, a vet can typically remove the piece(s) through the throat. But, if the piece is too large, abdominal surgery may be needed. If not treated or resolved, a blockage from rawhide could easily lead to death.
Some signs of contamination, digestive irritation or blockage are: gagging, repeated swallowing, regurgitation, vomiting, diarrhea, signs of pain, refusal to eat, and lack of energy. If you see any of these signs, take your pup to the vet immediately.
How to ensure your pup safely chews rawhide:
You can take certain measures to ensure your dog safely consumes rawhide. First, talk to your vet to make sure you are giving your pup the proper amount. The smaller the dog, the smaller the piece, is a good place to start, though.
If you have multiple dogs, separate them when offering them this treat. This way, they won’t feel the need to eat it quickly or swallow big bites.
Take the treat away from your dog when it is small enough to swallow whole. Some dogs tend to be possessive, so having them sit while offering them another (tastier) treat can help.
But the main thing to do is supervise your pup! Don’t leave them alone with rawhide and make sure they aren’t eating it too fast.
While most dogs can safely consume rawhide, knowing the risks can help if an issue ever does arise. Being prepared will ensure your pup safely enjoys this chewable treat!