Last Updated on February 6, 2023 by Becky Roberts
Preparing for when your new puppy comes home is a crazy yet exciting time – especially when it’s your first puppy! Needless to say, we only want the best for them. From looking for the best puppy food to looking for the best dog chews when he starts teething – we’ve got it all listed in our heads. Now, you might have heard that rawhide is dangerous for dogs and puppies alike. But is this really the case? Keep reading because we’ll answer that in this article.
What is rawhide?
Rawhide is a by-product of the leather industry. It’s made from the dried inner layer of an animal’s skin. Depending on where the rawhide is manufactured, rawhides can range from cows, sheep, pigs, horses, or water buffalos. While the kind of animal used is not a cause for concern, the place where it’s manufactured affects the quality of the product. We’ll explain more of this in the next section.
How are rawhides made?
When manufacturers get their hands on a hide (or hides), they soak it in a chemical bath to delay the rate of decay. When they reach the tannery, they are once more soaked using an ash-lye solution. It will help strip the hairs and fat attached to the hides. Next, the hides are cut and ground so they are easily pressed into a variety of shapes. Additionally, some manufacturers also add flavorings to the final product. Some of the popular ones are chicken, beef, and liver. Unfortunately, most of them are artificial flavorings only that can make our dogs feel sick.
Benefits of rawhide
If you ask any dog owner how many furniture and shoes fell victim to their teething puppy, they’ll most likely say they stopped counting after the 3rd one. Puppies love to chew! Anything they get their paws on will most likely be gnawed. This can, however, be pointed back towards teething pain. Something to chew on provides puppies the relief they need –exactly where rawhides are best used.
Rawhides were designed to last for weeks without losing their hardiness. In fact, many dog owners say that rawhide chews keep their puppies occupied for weeks. Something tough to chew on like rawhides also helps to develop strong jaw muscles. For other puppies, chewing may aid in relieving anxiety.
Another benefit rawhides present is dental health. It’s found that dogs who chew regularly on toys, bones, and rawhides have less tartar build-up on their teeth. Less plaque and tartar mean healthier gums and teeth for your puppy. It can even make your dog’s breath a bit fresher.
Risks of rawhide
First off, rawhides are not digestible. What happens with rawhides is that when your dog swallows it, it just travels all the way down to his digestive tract and then gets pooped out. Rawhide doesn’t dissolve in the stomach. Ironically, it does the opposite. It swells up in the stomach. It causes bowel blockage and intestinal obstruction leading to intestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis.
There are other varieties, however, that are labeled as digestible. Even so, this does not exempt them from other hazards like choking. The next section is all about this.
Another risk associated with rawhides is choking. When your puppy has spent plenty of time chewing his treat, rawhides bound to get soft. He will continue munching until it becomes small enough to fit into his mouth. If he swallows a large chunk of the treat, it may get stuck in his esophagus or trachea. It could block his airway or tear the linings in his esophagus that could quickly become fatal. The only option would be to remove the piece through surgery or leaving it be that would cause his death.
Some of the symptoms of choking are:
- Pawing at his mouth
- Not being able to swallow food or water.
Similarly, rawhides have a reputation for contamination. As I have explained above, rawhides require a lot of chemicals to produce. But rawhides manufactured outside of the U.S? Even more toxic chemicals are utilized because they have less strict policies. Hence, if you do choose to go for rawhides, choose U.S-made rawhides. You can be sure that they are of higher quality. The downside of them, however, is their availability and price. American-made rawhides are harder to find and pricier than their counterparts.
Like any product made from animals, rawhides may contain bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. This is important to remember because they do not only affect dogs but humans as well. While rawhides are generally safe, they could pose as dangerous to dogs and humans that have weak immune systems. For some puppies, rawhide may also cause their teeth to break. This is especially true to pressed rawhides as they are denser.
Things to consider when giving rawhide:
- Monitor all the time! Remove rawhides when they become small enough to be swallowed.
- Your puppy’s chewing style. If he is the gnawer type, rawhide may be a good treat. But if he is a gulper, stray away from rawhides.
- Rawhides labeled as digestible are better.
- Use US-made rawhides if possible
- Choose the right size for your puppy. Rawhides that are long and cylindrical may be better compared to rawhides with knobs as they are easily chewed off.
- Wash rawhides before giving them to your pup.
Chewing is a natural instinct for puppies and a part of their development. It goes without saying that rawhides present a safe outlet for this behavior. However, there are a lot of risks for your puppy who’s still developing.
The verdict? Rawhides are not the best option there is. If you’re looking for a chew toy to help your puppy with his teething, there are limitless options available. You can check out this guide we made on Best Puppy Treats for Training & Teething. On the other hand, if you’re looking for toys that have dental benefits and can satisfy your pup’s chewing instincts altogether, dental chews can be your weapon of choice. My advice? Don’t be afraid to try other toys. With limitless options, you’re bound to find one that fits both your puppy’s needs and yours.