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The Dangers of Rawhide

Posted by Aaron North on 4th Jan 2021

The Dangers of Rawhide

How can one of the most popular chew sticks on the planet be so dangerous for your pets, you ask?

I mean, most dogs chew on rawhide for hours on end, and not only does it keep them busy, but they seem to last forever.

But while many believe it is a good choice for improving dental hygiene, this isn’t the case. Rawhide chews start out hard, but as your dog chews is it gets softer, until it is the consistency taffy or bubble gum. By that point, it is nothing more than a choking and intestinal obstruction hazard, offering no benefits for your dog.

And, if you understood what it took to make this toxic “raw” leather stick, you would quickly understand what the problem is.

Even with the horror stories about pets needing emergency surgery after consuming rawhide, the majority of pet parents (especially the new ones) believe that this chew is some sort of dried up meat stick.

Let me debunk that myth right away!

A rawhide stick is not a by-product of the beef industry nor is it made of dehydrated meat. Rather, rawhide is a by-product of the Leather Industry, so theoretically it is a leather chew.

It’s the inner layer of cow or horse hides that has been cleaned and stripped of hair. In order to remove the hair from this layer, the hide must be soaked in chemicals, primarily sodium sulfide. It’s as toxic as it sounds. Yikes! It’s then washed and whitened with hydrogen peroxide, dried, and pressed into the treats you see in the stores (sometimes they add flavorings or coatings to make them appetizing for dogs). Other toxins, such as trace amounts of arsenic and formaldehyde have been detected in rawhide treats as well. Rawhide is classified neither as a human food nor pet food, so there are no regulations over its production. Scary!

Rawhide can be a vet bill just waiting to happen, some major concerns include:
  • Choking
  • Salmonella contamination
  • Digestive distress and internal blockage

So if rawhide is not the best option for our pets, what are some safer alternatives?

Natual Treats - We have some great options like Yak bars, Rabbit ears, lamb ears or Buffalo treats!

Kongs - These are the red (and other colors) rubber toys that you can stuff with treats and various spreads to keep your dog occupied and chewing for hours! Kongs have become a chewing staple over the years!

Frozen Carrots - DIY and frezze some donkey carrots in your frezzer! 

Antlers - Ours are from are from Red Deer and Fallow deer, much of which is from Scottish highland herds, and have simply been cleaned (with no chemicals) and cut to various sizes/weights for dogs to chew on. Sharp points have been removed to make them safe. They won’t splinter or create much odor, and they have nooks and crannies that really help get your dog’s teeth clean. Be sure to get the naturally-shed ones for extra kindness!

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