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Rawhide dog chewers are very popular with many pet owners.

I have to tell you we stopped recommending their use several years ago.

What is the big deal?

I was blissfully using them until I had a near miss with the vet surgeon or even a possible death. I was able to remove a slimy glumb from the throat of a dog where it was stuck. The dog was unable to either sowllow it or spit it out.  After that, I discovered that all was not as I had thought. I started asking our veterinarians. Over the last years, when I ask, I have been told by almost all of them "never give rawhide".

What! My dog loves them!!

Yes, BUT!  Many of my friends in rescue and pet owners can relate a least one horror story concerning these beloved chewers. To tell the truth the convenience and chewing pleasure sometimes derived from them are totally out weighted by the danger they pose to the average dog.

There are many pros for using these rawhide chewers and there are many cons.  You should know of both before you allow your dogs get their mouths on them...

First lets look at what Rawhide Chewers are:

Rawhide  and Beef-hide  in my opinion should not be considered neither a " food".  or a "safe" chewable toy,  and there is no question that they  can be, and most often is, consumed.

 Did you know that "Rawhide treats" come from the inner layer of animal hides? The animal's skin is split into inner and outer layers. There is a lot of questionable processing that goes into make them in to dog chewers. Something else I learned when researching this topic, is that the "animal skin" can be a lot of different animals not just cows.  For instance South American, Thailand, China, Korea might be from Water buffalo skin.

 I also also discovered these two terms... "Rawhide" and "Beef-Hide". Yes, there is a difference in their meaning.

²Rawhide is the inner layer of the hide of any cleft-hoofed bovine livestock. "

²Beef-Hide" is premium rawhide made from cows raised for consumption. American Beef-Hide is derived from corn-fed cows within U.S. borders.

rolledrawhide1Several years ago I quit taking for granted that everything sold to "CONSUMERS" was safe, healthy, or what the purchaser knew what they were buying. You must get into the habit of looking for the Country of Origin, This is required packaging information. Look closely for indications of imitations of U.S. Beef-hide such as "Made from U.S. Beef-hide in China or Mexico" or "Product of S America." This is a further indication that even the importers recognize the value of U.S. Beef-hide.
I had never thought about the fact that there are difference in qualities of "rawhide", or that the quality of rawhide is often related to its country of origin:
American Beef-hide: Corn-fed beef raised in the U.S. supply a thick, palatable and high quality chew. American beef-hide is considered "The Source" of choice for premium chews
Oriental Water-Buffalo: Raised to work in the fields of countries like China, Korea and Thailand, they are a common source of imported rawhide.

 "If rawhide manufacturers were held to the same standards as drug makers, they’d be forced to add an equally long list of warnings to their labels: May cause stomach torsion, choking, vomiting, diarrhea, salmonella poisoning and exposure to various chemical residues."

 Most people are surprised to learn that rawhide is a by-product of the leather industry -not the beef industry. These processors are "Tanneries", and users of enormous amounts of water which along with all of our environmental laws, the smell and unpleasantness of the processes in general mean in the USA there is reported to be under 300 companies.  In Mexico there may be 3,000braidedrawhide1 because of cheaper water and fewer laws. This is an explanation why so many USA unprossed beefhides are exported to china, Mexico and other places, for processing.  Which to me becomes problematic because of the Processing methods that would not be allowed in the USA.  And which also makes it possible for some deceptive terms on labels to be used... "Sourced in USA" would not be the whole story if "Processed' in a different country..

Consider this: Once the USA Beefhides leaves American control, you know that, in less developed countries, a lack of modern roads, and refrigeration trucks often requires the use of preservatives to get skins from outer-lying areas to processing plants. Besides the cost factors, why should the companies  improve these factors, when it would cut into the profits?  While at the same time, in the US, fresh beefhides are refrigerated during shipping to prevent degradation, spoilage, fouling, and the need for chemical additives. Something to think about.

 The good side Advantages for Rawhide

You might have heard that rawhide is good for your dog’s teeth and helps with his natural instinct to chew. What type you choose, depends on whether you have a small, dainty chewer; a mid-sized averagely enthusiastic chewer; or a large, aggressive chewer.

donoutrawhideHow about this one. The bones can improve the dental health of the dog, as the bones have a rough texture and this will remove the plaque deposits from the pet’s teeth, hindering the formation of tartar or calculus.

Or what about this one?  Dogs may often chew on rawhide bones to have something to do, preventing him from getting bored. Bored dogs may develop behavioral problems and start chewing on rugs and furniture.

This one is also convincing. All dogs need to chew. It’s a natural instinct. Some even spend hours chewing every day. Chewing can provide your dog stimulation and help relieve anxiety. Especially with puppies, treats like rawhide bones can be a great substitute for your leather shoes and the legs of the dining room table.

And some sites and companies, do caution that "While chews made from rawhide, bone or other animal parts are consumable, and are therefore considered “food” under FDA law, as long as the label contains no reference to nutritional value (such as “high protein”), be aware that manufacturers “may not have to follow the AAFCO pet food regulations.”

Most companies that offer Rawhide,  indicate that it is a favorite of most dogs, and can be used torawhideshoes provide mental entertainment.  HOWEVER, care should be taken to supervise the dog when chewing on rawhide, and only a certain kind of rawhide should be offered.  If you offer the wrong kind of rawhide, it presents a very significant danger to your dog. 

 For me that brought up more questions: What are the different kinds of rawhide? How do you know which type is best for your dogs? Who knew that there was this many differences? I sure never thought about it.


It turns out there are not only different varieties of rawhide dog chews available, But depending on rawhidefordogsthe dog or the type of chewer, what kind would be the type that is considered more appropriate for your dog.  But be aware there are many kinds that are and they are NOT equal in terms of safety, quality, and price!

While I did know that rawhide came in different forms like; rolled, compressed, granulated or cut. I was also aware that there were varies types of texture, appearance and hardness, which comes in several different sizes. Some are flavored, colored or bleached. What I was not aware of is, what type you should choose, depends on whether you have a small, dainty chewer; a mid-sized averagely enthusiastic chewer; or a large, aggressive chewer.


One of the other things I wanted to know is is rawhide digestable? 

One site had this to say "There are many different factors that can determine how quickly rawhide is digested. Factors such as the type of animal the hide is from, the thickness of the hide, how the rawhide chew is made and any chemicals that are actually added to the rawhide during production can affect how digestible it is.   SOURCE:"





So here is what I think about this.

First, I would very seldom if ever let a dog chew on rawhide. If for some reason I did, it would only be from beefhide raised in the USA.  I did not research these but, this is a partial list of USA Manufacturers brands, if someone wants to look further into this: Only Natural Pet, American Farms, Ark Naturals, BIXBI, Bones Galore, Bravo!, Chasing Our Tails, Cloud Star.  If you know of others please let us know.


notorawhideDo not leave your dog unattended with rawhide products, no matter what the type.

 One of the main reasons I can not recommend rawhide for any dog is from life changing experiences of dog owners that keep coming up. From my own "close call", I think that in the balance the "joy" they might bring is not in balance with the "horror" that so many of the owners of fur-friends have experienced.

  This is a small sampling of what I have had sent to me or read on many of our dog lovers sites.

 ³ The main danger with rawhide dog chews is when Fido is given a chew that he's able to rip large chunks off (if he's small breed puppy even little pieces can be problematic).  If Fido swallows these pieces they'll be softened by his stomach enzymes and expand.
Once that happens there's a possibility that one, or more, pieces could get stuck in his digestive system and create a blockage which requires surgery.

To help your pup or dog enjoy his rawhide safely, it's important to match the right type of chew with his chewing style.

"These rawhide treats may also create some problems in dogs including allergies or intestinal blockage."

Jackie T states "Another problem with rawhide is that, they grow bacteria at an alarming rate. Now there are so many alternatives available for our pets that are safer."

"My mom's friend's dog just died from stomach torsion. RAWHIDE IS NOT MEANT TO BE SWALLOWED-IT IS NOT DIGESTIBLE!! If you read the directions(if any) these chews are meant to be chewed until they are soft, then removed to harden again, NOT to be swallowed. They are the worst things ever developed for dog chews!!"
And this problem is not just a Boston problem, neither is age or size of the dog is not to.dogexray1
 "My female basset hound just survived removal of part of her intestine and the surgical opening of the stomach. Yes, it was caused by a rawhide that did not digest. She was inches away from peritonitis. No symptoms were apparent until she was in agony and severely infected. The diagnostic tests, surgery and recovery was $5,000.00. I have given my dogs U.S. rawhide for years, with no problems. Never again."
My beloved Westie just passed away in the night, in a crate, at the vets, post surgery to remove the end of a rawhide that had lodged and expanded in his stomach. The rawhide came out - it has expanded to over 75% of his stomach. He didn't survive the night. It has broken my heart."
"In some cases, the rawhide bones may be difficult to digest, especially if the dog has a diet that is poor in fibers. The rawhide bone residues may stay in the stomach and may even cause an intestinal obstruction. This condition may lead to surgery, if the condition is severe."
"Some dogs may be allergic to rawhide bones and these may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Often, it is difficult to identify the rawhide bones as being the allergens, especially if the dog eats these on a regular basis."
"Rawhide chews may also contain bacteria, as they are made of cattle skin. Consequently, the contamination with salmonella or other bacteria is possible through the ingestion of rawhide bones and the dog may develop severe infections. However, the dog’s stomach produces a lot of acids that may kill the bacteria. "

"Just yesterday, we had to put our puppy down due to severe blockage from a rawhide. It was given to her for Christmas. Little did we know it would lead to her death. We had her in emergency overnight to try and get her to stabilize enough for surgery."



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