Rawhide: the dangers of a common treat
While rawhide chews are popular among pet owners, we have found Google searches for the treats up 87% in the last few months, because as it turns out, they aren’t as healthy for our dogs as many pet parents are led to believe.
Sean McCormack, Head Vet at tails.com, has explained why rawhide should be avoided by dog owners, and provided tips on what to look for when shopping for treats and bones...
What actually is rawhide?
There is a common misconception that rawhide is just dried meat that is made into fun shapes for your dog to chew on, but quite often this is not the case - even though they can be labelled as ‘natural’ and ‘digestible’.
In a lot of circumstances, rawhide is the processed hide of cows and other animals, that are then preserved in chemicals and salt brine to stop them decaying, before being shaped into the treats that many dogs love.
Why can it be dangerous to dogs?
While it's hard to say whether all rawhide treats are dangerous for our dogs, as production processes can differ, one of the main reasons to avoid giving them to your furry friend is because of the harsh and toxic chemicals that they can be preserved in.
Unfortunately, in the UK, rawhide doesn’t have to meet any requirements or health regulations, as it isn’t technically classed as food. This means our canines could be happily chewing away, none the wiser, on dried animal skins that are soaked in chemicals, which can be harmful to their digestive system.
Choking or blockage
As well as chemicals and bacteria, rawhide treats can also be dangerous to your dog's health because they aren’t easily digestible, which may lead to choking or blockages in the digestive tract.
When our pooches swallow rawhide and it enters the stomach, it can actually swell to four times its original size! This combined with the inability to digest it properly can mean that our dogs can suffer from dangerous intestinal blockages, which can be extremely harmful to their health, and sometimes be fatal if not removed.
Though rawhide bones and treats are designed for chewing, and many believe they are actually good for dental health, they can actually be quite the opposite, especially if your pooch is an enthusiastic chewer.
This is because some rawhide chews and bones can actually be hard for your dog’s teeth, and can sometimes cause fractures while they are eagerly chewing away.
How to find the best treats to occupy or entertain your dog?
While chewing has many benefits for dogs, such as relieving pain in puppies that are teething, or keeping boredom at bay, it is important that our dogs are given chews and treats that are good for their health. So, there are a few key things to keep in mind when selecting them for your pet:
Look for long-lasting natural chews
Though rawhide treats are often given to our furry pals as treats because they are long-lasting, there are actually plenty of dog chews out there that are 100% free of any harmful ingredients that last just as long.
Next time you consider buying chews for your dog to gnaw away at, make sure to do your research. Check the ingredients thoroughly and consider where they were made before purchasing them. Though they might be a little more expensive, keeping your dog healthy and happy should be your top priority.
Consider a lickmat
Instead of a rawhide bone or treat, why not consider a lickmat? Like chewing, licking can be a great form of mental stimulation for our furry friends, which is key to keeping them happy.
Lick mats also have the benefit of helping to reduce anxiety in your dog and keeping them calm. This is because licking is a good form of distraction as their focus is re-directed somewhere else, but also because it releases endorphins in our dogs which can help them to relax and feel safe.
For longer-lasting lick mat fun, why not try using frozen yoghurt, and see if it melts before they have finished licking it all up!
Look for high value treats
If you want to avoid bones and chews altogether, consider high value, natural treats instead such as tails.com’s seriously meaty range.
Higher value meat treats, are often long lasting and are a much safer option for your dog, as they are packed full of protein, and goodness that is great for their diet.