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The Risks and Benefits of Rawhides for Dogs

Rawhides are a popular, yet controversial dog treat.

Many dog owners give their cuddly companions raw hides to chew on in order to fight off tartar and, subsequently, gum disease. Dogs have a natural instinct to chew, and that chewing helps to keep their teeth clean, but are rawhides really the best option for dogs? When it comes to rawhides, there are definitely pros and cons that should be considered, and having a little information can help you make the best choices for your dog.

What are rawhides made of?

Rawhides are made from the inner layer of horse or cow hides. They are cleaned and then either ground or cut. Then they are pressed into different sizes and shapes, and some of them contain chicken, liver or beer flavorings to make them more appealing to dogs.

Are there benefits to giving your dog rawhides?

As we mentioned above, chewing is a natural instinct for dogs, and it can help to keep their teeth and mouths healthy. Chewing can also provide some stimulation for your dog, and it can even help to relieve anxiety. For puppies who are prone to chewing on leather shoes or furniture, rawhides can be an effective alternative.

What are the risks associated with rawhides?

Due to the large amount of rawhides given to dogs every year, the risks associated with them are very low, but they are also serious and shouldn’t be ignored. Here are the most common risks associated with rawhides:

  • Allergic Reactions – Some dogs have allergies or are simply sensitive to the ingredients in rawhides, which can cause digestive irritation, most commonly diarrhea.
  • Contamination – Like most pet toys, rawhides can contain small amounts of toxic chemicals. Contamination from E.coli or Salmonella is also possible on rawhides.
  • Choking – Rawhides, like all edible chews, can pose a risk for choking or blockages. In fact, choking is probably the biggest risk associated with rawhides. If a dog swallows a rawhide, or a piece of a rawhide, it could get stuck in their esophagus or further down their digestive tract. Sometimes, veterinarians are able to retrieve a rawhide from the throat, but in many cases, abdominal surgery is required to remove the rawhide. If the blockage doesn’t get resolved, it can be fatal.

How can you determine if rawhides are safe for your dog or not?

If your dog has had a history of digestive upsets after consuming rawhides, or if they have swallowed chunks of rawhide whole in the past, it’s probably best to look for a safer alternative to rawhides. However, if your dog is healthy and has never had trouble with rawhides in the past, it may be safe to give them a rawhide. Regardless of your dog’s history with rawhides, any time they are chewing on a rawhide, keep a close eye on your dog. If you notice any gagging, regurgitating or repeated swallowing, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Although rawhides can be safe for some dogs, for many dog owners, they just aren’t worth the risk. In our next blog, our veterinary clinic in North Merrick will be going over the best alternatives to rawhides, so please stay tuned!

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