Is Rawhide Safe for Dogs?

Rawhides are indeed favorite chewy bones sold in pet stores across the country, and are available in many varieties.  Rawhide is a by-product of the meat industry, and is actually the tough inner layer of animal hide made from bull, horse, cow and water buffalo. The toughness of rawhides actually comes from the collagen linked together.

While chewing is often a very important healthy outlet for most dogs to help keep teeth clean and healthy, the use of rawhides is fraught with many dangers.

The FDA has reported that even bacterial contaminants such as salmonella have been detected in most of the rawhides imported from other countries.   In addition to these chemical risks, rawhides also may swell inside a pet’s digestive tract, which may lead to life threatening obstructions.  I have also seen many dogs chew off and swallow large pieces of rawhide which can also result in digestive tract discomfort and obstructions.  The truth of the matter is that even the hardest of rawhides may splinter in this way.   It is for these reasons that I do not recommend giving rawhides to our canine companions. I much prefer alternatives including Kong toys and beef chews, which tend not to splinter and are also made with healthy minerals.As rawhides are not food items, there is no regulation on rawhide products, especially those that are made overseas. Many rawhides contain chemical preservatives, artificial flavorings and colors. The imported chews may contain various heavy metals including arsenic, lead and mercury, all which are very toxic to mammalian enzyme systems.

If clients are insistent on feeding rawhide to their pets, I recommend that they choose an American brand, as well as closely monitor their pet, being careful to throw away chewed down pieces as the rawhide gets smaller.

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2 Comments

  1. Margaret C. ErvingJanuary 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Both of my dogs have choked on the rawhide’s. My miniature pincer had one stuck in his throat and almost passed out. I have bought them from the vet but just recently they also have choked on them. Now if my dogs are not able to easily chew or swallow something that I give them, they do not get it.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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