What’s the deal with rawhide? Your dog seemingly loves them, and they’re sold everywhere so they MUST be safe, right? Wrong. The shady background of rawhide is endless and completely unacceptable. After reading this, you will never again want to let your dog anywhere near a rawhide or anything similar to it. The first thing you need to know is, the rawhide is made from the same part of a cow’s skin that makes leather. Though slightly different, it is still not something you’d be chowing down on any time soon. Next, they have to get all that pesky hair off the hide. To do this, they treat it with sodium-sulfide liming. If you do not know what this is, here’s a short summary of what the chemical actually can do; it is an extremely alkaline solution and therefore can cause severe acid burns and if near another acid can react to create hydrogen sulfide, another very toxic substance (Georges). After that, to get that beautiful white color our dogs so obviously crave, they treat the rawhide with hydrogen peroxide. Though not inherently toxic, large amounts can cause repetitive vomiting and I wouldn’t recommend exposing your dogs to any foreign substances unless it is absolutely necessary and cleared with a veterinarian. Other chemicals that have been found in rawhides include arsenic and formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is extremely toxic and can cause a variety of symptoms, such as respiratory distress, vomiting, and internal bleeding (Toxic Substances). The point here is, be aware of what is being put into your dog’s chews/treats. It is not only important to acknowledge the source, but also the cleaning, preparing, and manufacturing involved.
The dangerous treatments of rawhide aside, the other main issue is due to what it is made of. As I said before, rawhide is from a layer of the skin similar to leather. What this means for our beloved pets, is that rawhide is not technically digestible. In a study found in the Journal of Animal science, we see that over a six-hour digestion period, the digestibility was 7.6%. The dangers of this are many. Personally, I have seen several dogs pass entire rawhides. Or even have blockages caused by undigested chunks of the hide. The most digestibility the rawhide reached, after a period of 18 hours, was 41.6% (Hooda). That may seem like a large number, but I do not know many humans that would eat something that they can digest less than 50% of. We want the best for our dogs, and helping them find a treat that not only tastes delicious but is also a benefit towards their health and happiness is our main goal.
Now you may be feeling slightly distraught, imagining how disappointed your dog will be when he realizes he has no more chews. But I am excited to inform you, here at the Yuppy Puppy, we have a variety of safe, healthy, and reliably sourced chews for your furry friend. Whether it be a bully stick, an antler, or maybe even a trachea, they all have their own pros and even better, are a much safer option for your best friend. One of my personal favorites is an antler. There are many myths and misgivings out there about antlers, but if you have any uncertainties we would love for you to come in and talk to one of our retail associates! We love to talk anything dog-related (obviously!), and can point you towards the best chew for your pal. The antlers we sell are naturally shed and found in the woods. You can purchase deer, elk, and moose antlers. Thought they may seem very similar, there are a few key differences. Deer antlers with white cracking across the surface tend to be more “crumbly” and are appropriate for older dogs or dogs with sensitive teeth. Elk antlers are much tougher, and would be the next step up. Moose antlers tend to be a personal favorite with the dogs, though every dog has its own preferences! The wide pieces of moose antler tend to be softer, but the base of the antler is extremely dense and therefore extremely difficult to chew. I would recommend these to our heaviest of chewers. Be aware to avoid antlers until your dog is at least over six months of age or has lost all their baby teeth. This is because chewing on such a hard object at a young age could force teeth to come out early, which we want to avoid.
Another heavy-duty option would be a Water buffalo horn. They are slightly smellier, which makes the dogs go wild, but they are extremely tough chews that can be multi-purpose. Due to their hollow center, you can stuff them like a Kong and give it for a longer lasting treat. Bully sticks would be the next step down. It is a softer, more versatile chew that can last a moderate amount of time for most dogs. I could go on, but the list just continues with trachea, cow tails, hooves, sow ears, raw bones, and more. If you want more information, just give us a call. These tougher, more natural chews serve another important purpose. Antlers and raw marrow bones can help clean teeth! The grinding and chewing does help scrape plaque off, but the biggest help comes from raw marrow bones. The raw bone balances the pH level in your dog’s mouth and helps destroy the nasty bacteria, and the nasty breath too!
Overall, if you are still unsure, I would recommend doing some research of your own. Once you start to understand the process of creating rawhides, you can start looking into alternatives. If you have any other questions, please come in to our store and talk to our sales associates. Once again, we love talking about anything in our store and would be happy to take the time to discuss rawhides and potential alternatives with you. We know each dog is specific in their likes and dislikes and would like to help you discover their absolute favorite treat, one that makes them healthier and happier!
written by Cailee Jones
Hooda, S, et al. “In vitro digestibility of expanded pork skin and rawhide chews, and digestion and metabolic characteristics of expanded pork skin chews in healthy adult dogs.” Journal of Animal Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23100588.
“Toxic Substances Portal – Formaldehyde.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Oct. 2014, www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mmg/mmg.asp?id=216&tid=39.
Georges, Nancy, et al. “Lime and Sulphide-Free Dehairing of Animal Skin Using Collagenase-Free Alkaline Protease from Vibrio metschnikovii NG155.” Indian Journal of Microbiology, Springer India, June 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4188488/.