We take it as one of the facts of life—dogs love bones. Children often watch cartoon puppies lugging around huge rawhide bones, gnawing on them and burying them deep in the yard. However, veterinarians are urging pet owners to rethink this association. It turns out that rawhide bones can be quite dangerous for your furry friend.
What is Rawhide, Actually?
Despite the name, rawhide bones are not real bones. They are made of the inner soft hide or skin of an animal. Usually, this animal is a cow, but rawhide production is not well-regulated, so it may contain any variety of livestock products. The “bone” is not the only form; rawhide is used to make a variety of shaped chews.
Rawhide is meant to satisfy a dog’s need to chew. Not only does this keep your dog entertained, it keeps your shoes and table legs safe. They can also serve as treats; many chews contain extra flavoring.
The Dangers of Rawhide
Perhaps the most common danger of rawhide is choking. Strong chewers (usually larger breeds such as Rottweilers) are more likely to dislodge large pieces from their rawhide treats. If inhaled, these can cause choking or blockages. Blockages may require invasive abdominal surgery to remove. On the other hand, weaker chewers (usually smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas) are at risk of shattering their teeth on rawhide chews.
Another common danger associated with rawhide is contamination. During processing, rawhide may come into contact with a variety of toxic chemicals such as bleach, hydrogen peroxide, arsenic, and formaldehyde. Rawhide may also become contaminated with harmful bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. Not only do these harm your furry friend, people in your home can also become sick from handling contaminated rawhide.
Rawhide chews may also cause your dog some digestive distress. Added flavors or other ingredients can cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting or diarrhea. For these reasons, many pet owners are turning to alternative chews and treats.
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