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Dangers of "Rawhide"

Most dog owners think “rawhide” chews are a great idea for their dogs. At some point, you’ve probably purchased one or someone gave you one as a present of your dog. They were a staple chew “toy” for dogs when I was growing up. We now know they’re NOT SAFE. Not only are they processed with chemicals, glue, etc. but they're also a dangerous chocking hazard. 1. “Rawhides” are not by-products of the beef industry as commonly believed, they're not “meat sticks” or anything close to it. They're actually a by-product of the leather industry. The name “rawhide” is technically incorrect; a more accurate name would be processed hide: Step 1 - The tannery: Cattle hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. These hides are treated with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport to help prevent spoilage. 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 strips the hair and fat that may be attached to the hides.

Next, the hides are treated with chemicals that help “puff” them up, making them easier to split into layers. The outer layer is used for goods like car seats, clothing, shoes, purses, etc. The inner layer is used to make dog “rawhide” chews/toys. Step 2 - Cleaning/Chemicals: In the post-tannery state, inner layers are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach to whiten and deodorize them. Research shows that other chemicals may be used to help the whitening process if bleach isn’t strong enough. Step 3 - Making them pretty: The whitened sheets of this “leathery by–product” are sometimes used as is. Some are painted with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear whiter and attractive on store shelves. Others are processed with chemicals to look like they’re basted, smoked or dyed for holiday occasions (red/green, red/white/blue, etc). Step 4 - Preservatives & Glue: Lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals have been detected in “rawhides” when tested, in addition to glue used to create shapes like bones and rings. 2. A “rawhide” bone starts out hard but softens as your dog chews it. Eventually your dog can unknot the knots on each end and the chew takes on the consistency of a slimy piece of taffy or bubble gum. At this point, there’s no longer any dental benefit to the chew because it has turned soft and gooey and, in fact, it becomes a choking and intestinal obstruction hazard.

If you read the fine print on “rawhide” chews – they come with a choking and blockage warning: if your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, these pieces can get stuck in your dog’s esophagus, stomach, or intestines. Abdominal surgery may be required to remove them. Worst case: a blockage can lead to death.

Between the fact that these “rawhides” are full of chemicals from their manufacturing process and the fact that they're a chocking/blockage hazard – I recommend steering clear of them. Look for safe chew/toy options out for your dog.


3. In addition to the ongoing warnings about dog treats and food made in China and other Asian countries, please remember to purchase dog treats and food either “made in the USA” or “made in Canada”. If the treats or food you purchase only says “distributed in the USA” , that’s code for made in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, etc. Warnings about the dangers of chicken jerky and other chicken products out of China continue to this day. Another reason to be weary about the origin of the treats and food you give your dog - in a particularly grizzly twist - as part of its ongoing investigation into the fur trade, the Humane Society International found that “skins of brutally slaughtered dogs in Thailand are mixed in with other bits of skin to produce rawhide chew toy for pet dogs. Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in US stores”.

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