Rawhide is called rawhide because the hide has not been tanned, but left “raw” and processed simply by removing all meat and hair and then stretching the hide while allowing it to dry.
Rawhide dog chews look clean and safe enough, or are they?
Perhaps understanding exactly what rawhide is, and how it is processed will help canine guardians understand why this chew, that has been big business since the 1950’s could end up being a dangerous choice for your dog.
Once we humans started to manufacture dog treats out of rawhide, this new dog chew sensation rapidly swept throughout the canine world when it was discovered that our fur friends found it irresistible and us humans could enjoy the fact that our dogs could be contentedly chewing, and otherwise staying out of mischief for long periods of time.
Rawhide is what’s left over after all the nutrients have been completely removed from a bull, bison, cow, horse, pig or water buffalo hide.
Native Americans and early settlers traditionally used tough and versatile rawhide to repair many items, including saddles and other horse gear, broken gunstocks and other pieces of equipment. Rawhide is so tough that settlers used it as door and window hinges and in truss bindings during the construction of log cabins.
Over many centuries rawhide has been used to make a wide variety of products, including decorative, practical and personal items, such as whips, ropes, lariats, weapons, tools, mallets, shields, drumheads, knife sheaths, bow strings, containers, furniture and lampshades.
During processing, the rawhide is soaked in a solution of ash and lye for a few days to remove all the hair, fat and meat, and then further soaked in bleach to sanitize it and to remove all traces of the ash/lye solution.
Once dried, the rawhide shrinks to approximately half of its original size, which is the major reason why this product can cause intestinal blockages.
When a dog chews the rawhide, they ingest many harsh chemicals and when your dog swallows a piece of rawhide, that piece now can swell up to four times its size inside your dog’s stomach, which can cause anything from mild to severe gastric blockages that could become life threatening.
NOTE: Rawhide is not considered a food item, and therefore is not required to be covered by any labeling, consumer or content laws.
Other than the possibility of life threatening gastric blockages, another primary problem with rawhide chews is the bacteria in rawhide that can cause severe gastrointestinal upset that can make your dog very sick for many days at a time.
NOTE: Some rawhide chews from Thailand have been found to contain dog skin.
If you need still more reasons to deter you from buying rawhide treats for your dog, you might want to know that some manufacturers staple their rawhide chews to prevent them from unraveling, which means your dog could also be swallowing staples.
While Federal and state agencies regulate and control the sale of dog food, because rawhide chews are not considered to be food, this means that rawhide bones and treats slip through the regulation cracks. When this happens, rawhide chews imported from other countries, that may contain toxins harmful to your dog, including arsenic, lead, titanium oxide, formaldehyde, chromium salts, mercury, cadmium and bromine find their way onto local pet store shelves.
If this isn’t enough to make your dog quite sick, despite the use of high levels of toxic preservatives, harmful antibiotics and bacteria can also be present in some imported products, including Salmonella poisoning.
While white rawhide chews have a greater market appeal to consumers, who believe them to be cleaner and therefore healthier, some countries use toxic titanium oxide to turn the rawhide white.
Further, many chews are basted with a flavor coating to make them more appealing to our dogs. However, once the chew is wet from your dog’s saliva, the color starts to come off and will stain your carpeting as well as your dog's fur.
Personally, I would not want to run the risk that my dog might bite off and swallow large chunks of rawhide, that could lead to choking or intestinal obstruction that can only be relieved by surgery.
I’m sure you don’t really want to allow your best friend to eat a product that, first of all, is not considered to be food, secondly, that likely contains harmful antibiotics, pesticides and growth chemicals, and thirdly, that could cause health complications from bacteria and intestinal blockages that, left untreated, could lead to their death.
Asia Moore — Ask a Dog Whisperer
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“With the proper training, Man can be dog’s best friend.”