Rawhides are one of the most popular treats with dog owners. Dogs can chew on them for hours on end and they seem to last forever. So how can they be dangerous?
The reason they can be dangerous is because of the chemical-laden way in which they are manufactured.
Contrary to popular belief, rawhides are not meat sticks that are by-products of the beef industry. Rather, rawhides are by-products of the leather industry. Rawhides are made from the inner layer of cow or horse hides (source); whereas, the outer layer is what’s used for leather products.
Pet nutrition blogger Rodney Habib describes the chemical-laden process that is often used for preserving and cleaning the hides. Hydrogen peroxide and bleach are commonly used, as well as artificial colors and preservatives like sodium benzoate.
Blogger Rodney Habib Outlines The Manufacturing Process of Many Rawhides
To keep your dogs safe, it’s important to do your research. Read labels, but also be aware that manufacturers don’t have to specify what chemicals were used on the label. “Unless we know it doesn’t [contain chemical preservatives], we should assume it does and avoid it,” says veterinarian Patrick Mahaney
“Rawhides aren’t inherently evil,” Dr. Mahany adds. “If dogs chew on rawhide without chemicals, I’m not 100% anti-rawhides.”
There are a number of natural, safe, healthy alternatives to rawhide. Below is a round-up on some of our favorites.
- Poka Dog Barkery Cod Skins
Made with locally caught cod then hand-rolled and slowly dehydrated. Smelly, but dogs love them.
- Kong Toys
Kongs are incredibly versatile because there are so many different ways you can fill them. We love putting in peanut butter then freezing it to make it an extra challenging but delicious treat.
- Bully Sticks
Softer than rawhide, but still challenging and long-lasting for the biggest of chewers.
- Deer Antler Chews
A more expensive but high-quality option for pups
- Himalayan Dog Chews
For all those cheese loving dogs out there, this is an excellent chew that will occupy them hours on end.