With Christmas right around the corner, pet shops are filling their shelves with all sorts of festive treats. But is rawhide safe for dogs?
You’d think anything sold in a pet shop would be safe for the animal it is marketed towards, but sadly this is not always the case. Rawhide is cheap to make and can be dyed and shaped to make it appealing to the eye so it sells well, but these treats can be dangerous to dogs.
What Is Rawhide?
As the name suggests, rawhide is the ‘hide’ of cows or horses that has been cleaned and stripped of hair. In order to achieve this, the hide is soaked in chemicals, such as sodium sulfide, and then, hydrogen peroxide is used to wash and whiten it. It can then be shaped and pressed into a variety of shapes before flavourings and colourants are added to make them more appealing. As rawhide isn’t classed as human or pet food, there are no regulations on how it is produced.
Dangers of Rawhide
Choking is probably the biggest risk of your dog eating rawhide. If you have watched a dog eat rawhide, you will know that as they chew, the rawhide gets soft and spongy, making it easy to swallow. It can easily and quickly become lodged in the oesophagus and can even tear it as it goes down. Signs of choking are panicking, drooling, unable to swallow and pawing at the mouth. Choking is an emergency and the dog should be taken to a vet immediately.
Even if your dog manages to swallow the rawhide, it can swell up and cause blockages further down the digestive tract. Symptoms of a blockage are diarrhoea and vomiting. If you suspect your dog has a blockage, you will need to go to contact your vet immediately and your dog may need surgery to remove the offending rawhide.
Safe Alternatives to Rawhide
- Kongs – Kongs are rubber toys with a hole in, so you can stuff it with food. There are different types depending on how strong a chewer your dog is. Stuff them with wet food, peanut butter or other treats and you can even freeze them to make them last longer.
- Treat balls – like kongs, treat balls are toys where you add treats. Put your dog’s kibble in and they can roll it around to get the food out.
- Dental chews – Oral care is just as important for your dog as it is for you. Dental sticks are tough enough for your dog to chew to remove plaque but safe to be ingested.
- Natural treats – tripe sticks, bully sticks and chicken feet are all-natural treats that are untreated and safe for your dog to eat.
Whilst we all like to treat our dogs, especially at Christmas, making sure they have items that are doggy friendly will mean everyone can be happy this Christmas.