Are rawhide chews safe for dogs, or are they delicious death traps? Many dogs love rawhides. They are great long-lasting chews that keep puppies and dogs busy, are a tasty snack, and even help clean teeth and promote oral health. The short answer to their safety however, is “it depends.”
According to the AKC, safety of any rawhide depends on several factors.
Your Dog’s Chewing Style
A Chihuahua is likely to be a much softer chewer than a Rottweiler. The age of the dog plays a role, as well, because most young puppies and senior dogs have softer mouths than their adult counterparts. Your dogs chewing style will change over time so it’s important to understand what treats are considered safe for your dog.
Rawhides are meant to be long-lasting chews that break down into tiny, soft pieces over time. However, strong chewers are typically able to break off large chunks that can pose a major choking hazard or cause an intestinal blockage. You can help prevent this from happening by offering an appropriately sized rawhide, but it’s best to avoid them if your dog is a very heavy chewer.
What’s In Rawhide?
According to the AKC, rawhide chews are made from the leather industry’s leftovers. Most hides are taken directly from the kill floors at slaughterhouses and placed into high-salt brines, which helps slow their decay. Most rawhide chews are manufactured in China, and it can take weeks to months before these brined hides actually make it to the tanneries for their final manufacture. Once the hide arrives at a tannery, it is soaked and treated with lime to help separate the fat from the skin, the hair is removed by chemical and physical efforts, and the hide is rinsed again. Unfortunately, the salt brines cannot prevent decay, no matter how long they delay it. It is best to fully rinse a rawhide in water prior to giving it to your dog.
Are Rawhide Chews Digestible?
Generally speaking, rawhides are not easily digested, which is why large chunks broken off and swallowed pose such high obstruction risks. Any pieces your pup breaks off will have to pass through his digestive system in chunks, since they will not be broken down as well as the rest of his food. A tip is to remove the chewed up rawhide before the dog ingests it.
There are many great alternatives to rawhide chews, but for the right dog, these treats can be a perfectly safe option. It all comes down to your comfort level and ability to recognize the risks involved in providing them to your dog.