Chewing is a great thing for dogs. Chew toys can exercise the mouth, help keep the teeth healthy and entertain a dog or puppy for a long time. They can save your personal property, home and furniture a lot of unwanted gnawing, too, if you have a dog that you can’t keep an eye on 24/7. But I choose not give my own dogs rawhide chew toys and here are 5 reasons why:
1. The knots can be a choking hazard.
It is a classic shape for rawhide chew toys to be knotted on each end to loosely resemble a bone shape. Most dogs tear off the ends of the knots and the knots are a size that can easily lodge in the airway of an average-sized dog.
2. I get patients with loose stool that seems to be linked to rawhides.
I have certainly had patients that I treated for GI issues, like vomiting and diarrhea, that we could only trace back to the ingestion of raw hides. The issues resolved when we eliminated them from the diet. Foods and treats that seem to be related too often to trouble with my patients quickly move to my non-favorite list.
3. Raw hides get damp and smell bad.
After the rawhide has been thoroughly chewed on, it becomes damp and smells gross. I discovered this in college when my friend had her dog over for a visit and the dog dropped the rawhide between my couch cushions. Yuck.
4. They can lodge on the roof of the mouth.
These dogs are brought in because they keep pawing at their faces and gagging relentlessly. When I open their mouths to look, there will be a piece of the rawhide lodged on the roof of the mouth, stuck between premolars and molars or both upper sides. These cases require sedation and physical removal of the rawhide piece.
5. Raw hides are processed.
Rawhides are made from cowhide that has been processed with chemicals to separate it and there have even been ugly rumors of them being made from dog hide in other countries. It is a use for a portion of the cow that is less usable and the hides can be very affordable. Their production is a way to reduce waste and that is a good thing, but remember, they are cheap for a reason. They are not high-quality prime cuts and your dog will ingest them.
Although I like the premise of giving dogs things to chew on, rawhides are not my favorite, unless they are the rawhide-based chews designed by vets to help fight dental tartar. These are not knotted. They must be purchased from a vet and come with feeding guidelines to help avoid GI upset. They are made from better grade cowhide, but they can still lodge in the mouth…and the couch cushions!
Also, be sure to check out these 11 rawhide alternatives.