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Dangers of Rawhide

Most dogs chew on rawhide for hours on end, and not only does it keep them busy, but they seem to last forever. This is why you may give it to your dog as a treat, cheap and long-lasting.

If people were more educated on what it took to make this toxic leather chew, you would quickly understand what the problem is. Many people believe that it is some sort of meat stick and it isn’t, it has caused many pets to be in need of emergency care.

Actually, 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.

How it is made:

Producing rawhide begins with the splitting of an animal hide, usually from cattle. The top grain is generally tanned and made into leather products, while the inner portion, in its “raw” state, goes to the dogs.

STEP 1: To The Tannery

Normally, cattle hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. These hides are then treated with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport to help prevent spoilage.

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.

Next on this glorious journey, these hides are then treated with chemicals that help expand the hide, making it easier to split into layers.

The outer layer of the hide is used for goods like car seats, clothing, shoes, purses, etc. But, it’s the inner layer that is needed to make the rawhide. 

STEP 2: Cleansed In Chemicals

Then the layers of hide are ready to be coated with deadly chemicals. Hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach; this will also help remove the smell of the rotten or putrid leather.

Other chemicals may be used if the bleach isn’t strong enough, posing even more of a risk to your dog.

STEP 3: Make It Look Pretty

Now it’s time to make these whitened sheets of this leather by-product look appealing. 

Basted, smoked, and decoratively tinted products might be any colour underneath the coating of dyes and flavours. They can even be painted with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and pretty on the pet store shelves.

The Material Safety Data Sheet reveals that rawhide contains a toxic confection containing the carcinogen (can cause cancer) FD&C Red 40, along with preservatives like sodium benzoate. But tracking the effects of chemical exposure is nearly impossible when it’s slow, low-dose poisoning, making it hard to relate back to the rawhide.

STEP 4: Getting It To Last Forever!

When tested products such as: Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Chromium salts, Formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals have been detected in rawhides.

Many types of glue may be used as well during the process to form the shapes.

Finally, they will package and attach all the misleading marketing labels to the product.

It can cause choking or blockages as well, if your dog swallows’ large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the oesophagus 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 be fatal.

How do proactive veterinarians feel about these chews?

World-renowned veterinarian Doctor Karen Becker’s opinion on Rawhide:

“The name ‘rawhide’ is technically incorrect. A more accurate name would be processed-hide, because the skin isn’t raw at all. But the term “rawhide” has stuck.

Rawhide chews start out hard, but as your dog works the chew it becomes softer, and eventually he can unknot the knots on each end and the chew takes on the consistency of a slimy piece of taffy or bubble gum. And by that time your dog cannot stop working it — it becomes almost addictive.

At this point, there’s no longer any dental benefit to the chew because it has turned soft and gooey, and, in fact, it has become a choking and intestinal obstruction hazard.”

An investigation by Humane Society International stated in their report, “In a particularly grisly twist, the skins of brutally slaughtered dogs in Thailand are mixed with other bits of skin to produce rawhide chew toys for pet dogs. Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in U.S. stores.

Article from Dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Written by Pet Nutrition Blogger Rodney Habib, an award-winning blogger, magazine writer, and is currently filming a TV series for Animal Planet focusing on pet obesity. He travels around the world, gathering current data from the Pet Industry, and relays it to his supporters. He has one goal in mind when it comes to all his work: to be the change he wants to see in the world.

The Good:

  • Rawhide bones satisfy your dog’s need to chew in a positive way
  • When consumed properly, they are very good at cleaning your dog’s teeth
  • Relatively inexpensive treat for your dog

The Bad:

  • Rawhide bones could be an inadvertent source of harmful chemicals for your dog
  • Poorer quality (thinner and drier) Rawhides could break your dog’s tooth, causing your dog pain and you high vet bills
  • Yummy flavoured raw hide bones can cause issues (e.g. vomiting and diarrhoea) for some sensitive dogs

The Truly Dangerous:

  • If not sized right for your dog, they can be a serious choking hazard
  • Large chunks can be swallowed whole, which are indigestible and can cause serious illness or death for your dog