The Dangers of Rawhide Chews.

Rawhide chews have long been part of the staple diet of pet dogs in terms of treats, but recently the safety of this product has been called into question.  In this article, Holidays4Dogs investigates the truth behind this popular chew treat for dogs.

What is Rawhide?

As it’s name suggests, rawhide is just that – animal hide usually from cattle, but depending on where it originates from it can come from any cleft hoofed animal; pig, sheep, horse or even buffalo.  Therefore, although the type of animal the rawhide comes from is possibly not the issue, how the livestock was raised may well be cause for concern, since it can affect the quality and safety of the end product, with some being much drier and thinner than others.

Basically, rawhide chews are not the by-product of the meat industry as many people believe, but rather they are the by product of the leather industry.  The animal hide is split and the top section is used to make leather products such as shoes and handbags, while the inner section is used in its raw state for dog chews.

What is the manufacturing process for rawhide chews?

Before hides are sent to tanneries for processing, they are initially treated with a chemical bath which is supposed to preserve the product and prevent it spoiling during transportation.  At the tannery plant the hides are then soaked in toxic sodium sulphide which removes hair and fat from the skin.

After that it is often cleansed in a solution of hydrogen peroxide.  In some countries even arsenic or formaldehyde may be used, although this process is banned in the United States.  The material is then either left in its natural state, or smoked before adding artificial flavours and colourings.

All in all rawhide chews should be avoided at all costs as clearly they pose a health hazard to our pets because of the liberal use of toxic chemicals during their manufacture.  When tested in laboratories rawhide chews have been found to contain Lead, Arsenic, Chromium Salts, Mercury and other highly toxic chemicals.

On top of this, rawhide chews pose a serious choking hazard and high probability of intestinal obstruction, since they are more or less indigestible.

Alternatives to Rawhide Chews.

Carrots – this healthy treat can provide your dog with the satisfaction of chewing and are great as a cooling treat straight from the fridge on a hot day.

Raw meaty bones – make sure any bones are UNCOOKED.  Ask your local butcher to save large knuckle bones or ribs.

Smartbones – available from Pets at Home stores UK wide, these are rawhide free dog chews which are 99% digestible and also contain vitamins.

Sweet potato chews – simple slice up a sweet potato or two, bake in a hot over for around three hours, leave to cool on a wire rack.  These treats can be kept in the fridge for up to three weeks and they can also be frozen.  A very healthy and cheap alternative to rawhide chews!