Bill Chizek/ShutterstockBesides the many health benefits of owning a dog, your pet is your best friend. So naturally, you want to reward him for being so awesome. But it’s important to know which treats are good for him and which ones should be avoided at all costs.
Rawhide chew sticks are popular for two reasons: They give your dog a fun, engaging activity and keep their sharp teeth away from your furniture. But you could be unknowingly put your dog’s health at risk if you give him these chew sticks.
Why are rawhide bones bad for dogs? According to TheBark.com, animal (usually cow) hide is split to make rawhide bones. In most cases, the top grain is tanned and made into leather products, while the inner, “raw” portion of the hide goes to the dogs.
“Rawhide chews start out hard, but as your dog works the chew, it becomes softer, and eventually he can unknot the knots on each end and the chew takes on the consistency of a slimy piece of taffy or bubble gum,” explains veterinarian Karen Becker to dogsnaturally. “And by that time your dog cannot stop working it—it becomes almost addictive.”
Unfortunately, at this point the chew also becomes dangerous. It’s too soft to have any dental benefits and can become a choking hazard. Some rawhide packaging even warns that if swallowed in large pieces, rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to remove the blockage, and the worst case scenario is death. You may also be exposing your dog to health hazards in your backyard without knowing it.
Another potential rawhide bones danger comes from the chemicals that are often used during the manufacturing process. According to pet nutrition blogger Rodney Habib, manufacturers commonly use hydrogen peroxide and bleach, as well as artificial colors and preservatives such as sodium benzonate.
To keep your dog safe, it’s important to do your research, says veterinarian Patrick Mahaney. Read labels, but also be aware that manufacturers don’t necessarily have to specify what chemicals were used on the label. “Unless we know it doesn’t [contain chemical preservatives], we should assume it does and avoid it,” Mahaney says. He suggests looking for “preservative-free” labels or other indications that no chemical preservatives were used.
“Rawhides aren’t inherently evil,” he adds. “If dogs chew on a rawhide without chemicals, I’m not 100 percent anti-rawhides.” If you do give your dog rawhides, however, Mahaney recommends monitoring their intake and limiting their chew time to an hour a day, or less if they can destroy an entire rawhide in that time.
To avoid rawhide bones danger, look for safer alternatives. Consider stuffable, rubber KONG toys, bacon-flavored Nylabone, DreamBone dental chews, and all-natural beef Bully Sticks. Be sure to check out these 50 secrets your pet won’t tell you for more tips on keeping your pooch healthy and happy.