Is Rawhide Good For Dogs?
Rawhide is a popular dog chew toy. However, emerging scientific studies and anecdotal reports indicate that rawhide may present more risks than benefits to dogs.
There are numerous reasons why rawhide is bad for dogs. But the most notable ones include risks of digestive distress, bacterial contamination, asphyxiation, and intestinal obstruction.
In fact, reputable animal welfare organizations like the ASPCA and Humane Society discourage giving rawhide to dogs. Established pet stores like PetCo have gone as far as removing products made from traditional rawhide from their shelves.
So, if you’ve been considering getting your pooch a rawhide chew toy, we’d suggest that you seriously reconsider. Read on as we delve deep into the safety concerns of rawhide for dogs.
What Is Rawhide?
Besides the famous 1951 thriller starring Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, and Hugh Marlowe, among other actors, rawhide is also the name for hide or animal skin that’s yet to be tanned.
Rawhides initially comprise three main components – hair or fur, the outer skin, and the inner skin. The hides typically come from the skin of cows and other domesticated animals like sheep, goats, pigs, and horses. But it can also be obtained from the skin of wild animals.
During tanning (leather manufacturing), the furs on rawhide are removed through heating. The outer layer is then used in creating leather, while the inner layer is manufactured into rawhide bones and sold as chew toys for dogs.
How Is Rawhide Bone Manufactured?
The process of manufacturing rawhide bones begins with separating rawhide from the rest of an animal’s skin at the abattoirs. Brine (concentrated salt solution) is added to the hides to decelerate the rate of decay. The rawhide is then shipped from the slaughterhouses to the leather manufacturing industries (tanneries).
At the tanneries, manufacturers start by removing any furs and excess fat from the hide. The next step involves the removal of the outer layer, which acts as the primary raw material for the manufacture of leather products.
The remaining component goes through a series of chemical processes before it’s available in pet stores as a finished product. Some of those processes include cleaning with water and bleach, as well as adding preservatives, flavorings, and coloring agents.
Finally, manufacturers cut the finished bone into smaller pieces and form it into desired shapes.
What Makes Rawhide Bone So Dangerous To Dogs?
1. Risks of Choking and Intestinal Obstruction
Rawhide obtained directly from an abattoir is generally digestible to most dogs. But we cannot say the same about industrially-manufactured rawhide bone.
The chemical processes involved in the manufacture of rawhide bone may render the bones too hard for your canine friend to digest in the event he ends up swallowing chunks of it. Attempting to swallow the product could lead to asphyxiation or even intestinal blockage.
Intestinal obstruction is a life-threatening condition that will almost always require emergency treatment. Otherwise, death may occur from acute symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, reduced food drive, and fatigue.
2. Bacterial Contamination
Rawhide bones may harbor several bacterial contaminants, particularly salmonella and campylobacter. The bones might cause bacterial infections in dogs if not cleaned with the right antiseptic solutions. Worse yet, these bacterial infections could easily be transmitted from the infected animal to other family members.
Common symptoms of bacterial contamination include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and inappetence. Other signs to watch out for are repeated swallowing, rapid weight loss, abdominal discomfort, fever, and fatigue.
3. Toxic Industrial Chemicals
The process of manufacturing rawhide bones involves the use of many chemicals. Long-term exposure to some of these compounds may hurt your dog.
For instance, ingesting brine may cause sodium ion poisoning in dogs, a condition associated with severe kidney damage. Symptoms range from increased thirst drive and frequent urination to fatigue, weight loss, seizures, and even coma. Without prompt treatment, sodium ion poisoning might kill your dog.
Sodium sulphide is another toxic chemical used in the manufacture of rawhide bones. The compound mainly helps with the removal of fat and fair from rawhide. Other poisonous chemicals involved in the manufacturing process of rawhide bones include bleach, hydrogen peroxide, titanium oxide, and dyes like FD&C Red 40.
Some of the chemicals in rawhide bones have been linked to allergies, migraines, and behavioral disorders in children, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Upon testing, certain rawhide toys have also revealed considerable levels of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead. You can only imagine how these compounds may affect your dog in the long run.
4. Tooth Damage
Chewing hard toys is a leading cause of dental malformations in dogs, including chipped teeth, crooked teeth, and even gum injuries.
Therefore, the fact that rawhide bones are tougher than regular hides makes them potentially harmful to your dog’s teeth.
Rawhide bones, like most chew toys, are a great way to keep your dog stimulated. These toys can help combat boredom in dogs while also averting aberrant behaviors like chewing on wires, clothing, and upholstery.
However, rawhide toys are nothing like regular toys, and the dangers of giving your dog these bones far outweigh the benefits. From the risks of bacterial contamination to choking hazards, intestinal blockage, and exposure to harmful chemical residues, there’s more than enough reason to replace rawhide bones with safer chew toys.
If you must insist on giving your dog rawhide bones, be sure to purchase the toy from a reputable pet store. Also, check the ingredients list to determine that the bone is free from chemical additives known to be toxic to dogs.