Rawhide Chews: Getting Some Perspective

rawhide_chipsRecently there has been a post circulated heavily across many doggy pages on social media about the risks of feeding rawhide chews.  We have had lots of people wanting to speak to us about it in the shop so we thought it may also be helpful to pop up some further info to allow you to make an informed choice.  Whilst the post in question makes lots of  very valid points, and it is absolutely important to be aware of risks and to make sure you look at where items are sourced from, we are also concerned that there are some points that are perhaps not as balanced as they could be and we thought it would be helpful to try to clarify some of these points. We have provided the full details in a blog article on the subject.   As a summary we would always recommend that you research where you source the hide you give your dog.  We would also only recommend giving hide to dogs whilst supervising and only to those dogs that are not too greedy with gulping down larger pieces of unchewed hide (but we would also recommend this with any harder chew).  Rawhide may not work for every dog but the same could be said for other chews (i.e. some dogs do well with pigs ears but others find them too rich).

Point 1:   "A rawhide stick is not the by-product of the beef industry nor is it made of dehydrated meat. Rather, rawhide is the by-product of the “Leather Industry”, so theoretically it is a leather chew. ?" Although it is not a dehydrated meat product it is still a by-product of the beef industry (as is leather) and there are lots of other natural chews which are not dehydrated meat i.e. ears, snouts etc which are very popular.  We have been very careful to ensure that the main range of hide chews we stock in the shop are from highly regulated, ethical supplier.  The main range we stock are actually from Argentian/Brazilian free range cattle which are used for their meat and then the leather and hide are also produced from these cattle.

Point 2:   "Once at the tannery: the hides are soaked and treated with either an ash-lye solution or a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulphide liming. This process will help strip the hair and fat that maybe attached to the hides themselves. "  To remove excess hair, salts or oils the hide we stock are soaked in large vats with mostly water and there are no harmful or toxic chemicals  used (they are not soaked in a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulphide liming as referred to in the original post).    They are solely made of fully digestible hypodermic interstitial tissue (AKA skin) and no harmful chemicals are used to "puff" the hide as described in the original post.  They are not bleached either.  There may be some sources of hide which this applies to but not from the higher quality ranges which we choose to stock.

Point 3: "Basted, smoked, and decoratively tinted products might be any color (or odor) underneath the coating of (often artificial) dyes and flavors. They can even be painted with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and pretty on the pet store shelves"  There are certain types of hide from poor sources which certainly  can be coloured and flavoured with potentially harmful chemicals and we would always recommend ensuring that you check out where your products are sourced from.  Again, we are extremely careful about where we source from and ensure that the hides are either uncoloured or only using natural flavouring (i.e. for the peanut butter ones we stock).  We are careful about where we source all our treats from though as other poor quality, harmful treats are also on the market - not just in hide market.

Point 4: "When tested: Lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals have been detected in raw hides. So it’s safe to say that any sort of glues can be used as well!"  Again we are aware that there are some products which can be from less well regulated and traceable sources (the same can be said for many treats not just rawhide).  We are careful to ensure that our hide is from very transparent, well regulated and inspected sources which do not use any toxic, harmful chemicals in their production.

Point 5: “Choking or blockages. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.“  Rawhides, as with any chews, can carry a small choking risk.  We always recommend that you supervise your dog carefully when feeding and if they are greedy and prone to chewing off larger pieces and swallowing whole then we would not recommend giving these to your dog.  We would also advise this for many of the other treats though which some people argue as more "natural" i.e. raw bones, pigs ears, pizzles etc.

Whilst we do appreciate that there can be a risk of choking if your dog is not being properly supervised, we like to let our customers balance this up with the advantages when properly supervised.  It can provide a safer outlet for chewing than other things around the house they may be focussing on. It can also be a useful addition for tooth cleaning and as an aid to combatting boredom or anxiety alleviation.

We appreciate rawhide may not be suited to all dogs (if they are a greedy eater or if they have a sensitivity to beef etc) and for more information on the pros and cons of different chewing items please do have a look at our "to chews or not to chews" article on our blog or ask for a leaflet in store.

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