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Rawhide: What's the deal?

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

Today on the blog we are in our "Bone" section covering health and nutrition, by taking a brief look at rawhide.

What is Rawhide?

Rawhide is the dried hide (skin) of an animal, that hasn't gone through a tanning process. The tanning process turns the hide into leather that is water-resistant, and stops it from decomposing overtime. Rawhide is used to make all sorts of products that we humans use, like horse saddles and parts of shoes. However dog owners most commonly know it as a treat we can give to our furry friends.

It comes in various shapes and sizes; small sticks, to large bones or even 3ft candy cane shapes at Christmas time! It is usually the skin of a cow that is used to create these dog treats, giving it a meat taste that most dogs love.

Should I be feeding my dog rawhide?

There is a lot of debate in the dog world about whether to give them raw hide. If your dog’s stomach can cope with rawhide then it can be a good occasional treat. They can be a great chew for puppies, and a treat for older dogs to keep them busy.

However, rawhide can cause some fairly nasty problems.

1. A lot of manufacturers create their rawhide treats by rolling one single sheet of hide and then forming into a bone or stick shape. This makes it hard for a dog to digest as they usually swallow lumps of this single sheet as they chew through the treat. Having lumps of rawhide sat in their digestive tracts or stomach for long periods of times can cause blockages and irritation; leading to diarrhea, sickness, and surgery to remove if the blockage is big enough. The rawhide swells while in their system too which causes huge problems as large chunks are not able to be digested.

2. Choking is a huge risk with rawhide. Unlike bones or softer chewy treats, the parts that they break off can get lodged in their throats.

3. Chemicals are used by some manufacturers to preserve the rawhide before it is made into treats, and to strip the hide of fur. These are toxic to your dog!

What to look for in rawhide?

If you do want to use rawhide as a treat for your dog, here are some things to look for:

1.Look for a company that cuts the hide up into small pieces and then reforms it to make the treats, instead of using one single sheet of hide. This process decreases the risk of big solid lumps remaining undigested in their tract.

2. Made without chemicals; American and UK manufacturers do not use chemicals but make sure to double check!

3. Shape: the small thin sticks are worrying. They are very easily swallowed whole, especially by the larger breeds. I have witnessed this happen with a 70lb Labrador! In this case, buying larger or fatter sized rawhide's can be advantageous!

4. Portion size is key. Some pet treat manufacturers produce raw hides in funny shapes, or in enormous sizes. It is the same with human treats. No-one should eat a Dairy Milk yard of chocolate, even if they do make a fun present at Christmas time! Watch how quickly they are going through them, and take them away after they have consumed a small amount.

Is rawhide safe for my dog?

Other Alternatives

There are plenty of other alternative treats you can give your dog to satisfy their urge for chewing, all that taste great (or so I am told!), and are safer for their digestion! Always watch your dog when you give them something new, and make sure you have gotten these from reputable and safe manufacturing processes.

  • Dried Sweet Potato: You can even make your own!

  • Freeze-dried turkey necks: Fairly chewy but a great protein packed treat.

  • Frozen raw bones: These are fantastic for a dog's dental health!

  • Bully sticks: The twisted ones last longer and the circle shapes are great for puppies. These are actual animal parts so easier for dogs to digest.

  • Dried pig or cow ears: Small and incredibly chewy. Perfect for puppies.

  • Yak milk chews: these are very hard so not recommended for teething puppies as damaging a puppy tooth can have lasting affects on their adult teeth!

If your dog doesn't seem to have any issues with raw hide then they can be a great treat but please use CAUTION and always keep a close eye on your dog while they have it.

Let us know in the comments if you have found any other chews your dog loves!


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