Updated on September 21, 2022.
Treats like rawhide for dogs are very popular amongst dog owners. Anyone who’s come home to a destroyed pair of shoes knows that dogs love to chew. It’s an instinctual behavior that begins when they are puppies exploring their environment.
Dogs love to chew throughout their life, and it’s good for them, as it helps them clean their teeth, provides stimulation, and even helps them deal with stress. Rawhide has long been a cheap way to satisfy that urge, but this is one of those practices that is overdue for retirement. Here are five things you should know about rawhide for dogs, including some healthy alternatives.
What You Should Know about Rawhide for Dogs
Anyone who’s come home to a destroyed pair of shoes knows that dogs love to chew. It’s an instinctual behavior that begins when they are puppies exploring their environment. Dogs love to chew throughout their life, and it’s good for them, as it helps them clean their teeth, provide stimulation, and even deal with stress. Rawhide has long been a cheap way to satisfy that urge, but this is one of those practices that is overdue for retirement.
Related Article: Weird and Wonderful Chews for Dogs
Rawhide is Leather, Not Meat
A lot of people think rawhide is a meat byproduct, but it’s really a leather byproduct. It’s the inside part of the skin that is discarded in the tanning (e.g., leather-making) process.
There’s nothing raw about rawhide…
In fact, rawhide is a highly processed product. First, the hair and fat are removed with ash-lye or sodium sulphide. Then the rawhide is split from the leather using more chemicals. Then the rawhide is cleaned and whitened using bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or formaldehyde. To make it palatable for dogs, dyes and artificial flavorings are added. Oh, and along the way, there are numerous chemical preservatives, especially if it’s being imported. Bone-appetit!
Risk of Choking & Blockages
Even “well made” rawhide is potentially hazardous. The chewing and saliva eventually soften the rawhide until pieces can be torn off and swallowed. This can be a choking hazard, particularly for a small dog. Rawhide is an indigestible material, and it has to be passed intact. If the dog can’t pass it, it can cause a variety of gastrointestinal issues, including blockages that can require life-saving surgery.
Risk of Contamination
Rawhide will spoil without preservatives. Toxic contamination can occur from spoilage or the introduction of unintended chemicals during processing. There’s also the risk of unscrupulous suppliers using banned preservatives. In June of 2017, a major supplier of rawhide had to recall 10 brands of rawhide products due to contamination.
Where’s the Beef?
Rawhide is generally made from cows’ skin, but it can also come from horses. Oh, and there’s a hard-to-verify report, attributed to the Humane Society International, that slaughtered dogs have been secretly used for rawhide products that are used in the United States.
Does Rawhide Expire?
Rawhide is a popular chew toy for dogs, but many owners are unaware that it has a limited shelf life. Rawhide can expire and go bad, just like any other food product. When rawhide goes bad, it can become brittle and sharp, posing a serious choking hazard for your dog.
It’s important to check the expiration date on your rawhide chews and discard them when they reach their expiration date. If you’re not sure when your rawhide chews expired, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw them out.
Healthy Alternatives to Rawhide
Today, there are a number of healthy, all-natural alternatives to rawhide. Get more information regarding all-natural treats for dogs, including bully sticks, beef trachea, beef tendons, beef ligaments, beef hearts, duck feet for dogs, and other products that your dog will love to chew!