What are the risks of giving my dog rawhide?

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Dogs certainly love rawhide, but vets and pet owners alike seem divided about whether these chew treats are really a good choice for pets.  In my own experience they get soft after chewing.  They can stain furniture and they become slimy, they smell, and probably harbor a multitude of harmful bacteria.

Pet nutrition blogger Rodney Habib outlines the manufacturing process of many commercially-available rawhide chews.

A more accurate name for rawhide would be processed-hide, because the skin isn’t raw at all.  Read more about how it is processed.  When tested  lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Chromium salts, Formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals have been detected in raw hides.  Rawhide chews from China and Thailand are the most likely to contain dangerous levels of chemicals.

Dr. Mahaney suggests looking for labels that say “preservative-free,” or otherwise indicate no chemical preservatives were used to manufacture the rawhides. He says family farms who slaughter their own cows and dry their hides naturally in the sun are ideal.  Read more of his views and alternatives.

Other hazards associated with rawhide:

  • The hide can actually become lodged in a dog’s teeth and require an owner’s assistance to remove it.
  • Large chunks may be too big to swallow and cause a dog to choke.
  • Intestinal blockage can also occur if the chunk of hide becomes lodged somewhere along the intestinal tract, and surgery may be required to remove it.
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