Friday, December 25, 2009

RAWHIDE CHEWS: Great Treat or Grave Danger?

Nothing against Santa, but here's the deal: rawhide is literally the outside of a cow– the skin. Rawhide is not regulated in any way.

Some imported brands (China, Philippines) have been reported as soaked in formaldehyde or contaminated with arsenic. These foreign hides may also contain other detrimental things such as antibiotics, insecticides, or lead- things you'd never knowingly want your pet to ingest.

And even if it's made in the USA, if it is not from organic, grass-fed cows, then chances are very good that that skin is infused with the pesticides and chemicals that animal ate, absorbed, and was exposed to during its life.

Also, choking is a hazard, and rawhide can cause canine gastric irritation when chewed on often, which can lead to vomiting and extreme discomfort.

Now the good news: there are great alternatives for purchase online.

Recently on twitter, I read that my beautiful Golden Retriever pal, Mackenzie, tried and fell in love with a safer alternative made from - drum roll... shed deer antlers! Here is the reliable brand that Mackenzie and her dad get from the good folks at Best Bully Sticks. Yum. Yum. Woof!

Or, thick pieces of dehydrated organic sweet potato is nutritious, delicious, and cheap if you have a food dehydrator. At the very least, please consider buying a brand that is made in the USA and says something on the label about being natural. Good chewing!


Anonymous said...

Good post. I was never sure what was in rawhides, but my dogs' stomachs usually don't tolerate them much. Thanks for the alternatives.

Nadine M. Rosin said...

Thanks, Anon! I'm here to help raise awareness, which will hopefully, help lower the growing rate of canine cancer.

GoPetFriendly said...

I guess, like Aaron, I never really thought about what rawhide is. Shame on me. We don't give them to our dogs often, but on occasion we notice some intestinal distress. Thanks for the advice and the alternatives!

Nadine M. Rosin said...

GoPetFriendly- it's so easy to slip into thinking nicely packaged products sold at busy, reputable stores are safe and/or healthy.

It takes some work to be aware, and we are ALL guilty of going "unconscious" about many products. Good for you for becoming more aware!

Sue said...

I used to hunt and butcher my own deer and I would argue that deer antler is harder than your veterinary dentist would want you to put in your dog's mouths. Shed antlers are easy enough to find in most parts of North America in the late fall-so you can certainly get some if you start scouting around in the woods; I just wouldn't. So far as rawhide, when I used to tan my own hides, I used to make chews for the dogs...until I found out that skin makes great GLUE. And unless you are feeding your dogs rawhide with hair on it to bind that glue all together, it is going to glom up whatever else it finds in the canine gut. Chinese and other foreign sources of rawhide aren't nearly as big an issue to me as the fact that the product itself is dangerous. Keep in mind too that cattle from overseas have easophagus and penis, and they will one day become cost effective enough to dry and ship here too. Any time you start to give your dog an organic (in the sense of biologically sourced, not in the sense of supposedly pesticide free) chew, you need to be very careful about what it is, what it is made up of and where it comes from. For my bucks...I am solidly on the hydrocarbon alternative...kongs, orcas and the like are much more mouth friendly and won't cause impactions in the event that they are swalllowed.

Sue Alexander CPDT CDBD
Dogs in the Park
Guelph, Ontario

Mary Haight said...

Yes! This is one of those posts that will always be relevant--so many people just don't hear or think about what goes into the processing of these items.

Peggy Frezon said...

My dog Kelly enjoys chewing on rawhide...but I won't give them to her anymore. Is there a way to dry sweet potato slices without a food dehydrator? Any other suggestions Kelly might love to gnaw? Thanks for a great post!

Nadine M. Rosin said...

Peggy- You could do the sweet potato slices in the oven- best in a convection oven, for 8-10 hours at 118 degrees- which is why a dehydrater is good :)

Dog Toys said...

Wow I never realized they could be so dangerous.