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Why You Should Avoid Rawhide for Dogs

Madelene Hissom · Dec 8, 2020

Chewing on treats is healthy for your dog: it helps keep their teeth clean and safely satisfies the natural instinct to chew! But selecting the right kind of chew for your dog may be easier said than done with so many options on the market.

So let's narrow down your options by excluding rawhide from your purchase list altogether.

Rawhide is the tough material on the inner layers of cow or horse hides. Manufacturers create rawhide treats by adding flavoring from beef, chicken, liver, or pork, making them more tasty for dogs. 

One of the major risks of rawhide treats comes from the manufacturing process. as it can be contaminated with viruses such as salmonella or E. coli during production, leaving toxic traces that can make your dog feel sick. 

But some dogs are also naturally allergic to rawhide. Symptoms of a rawhide allergy include a runny nose and eyes, itchy or flaky skin, loss of hair from the coat, hives, ear infections, inflamed paws, or constantly licking and chewing paws. 

The greatest risk of rawhide treats, however, comes from swallowing or choking on the treats. Rawhide is a tough, thick substance that can pose serious digestive risks if it becomes lodged in a dog’s digestive tract.

Symptoms of choking on rawhide differ depending on where the treat is lodged. They can include:  

  • Trachea blockage: If the rawhide treat is stuck in your dog’s trachea, or windpipe, they will often react by choking, coughing, and pawing at their mouth or throat.  
  • Esophagus blockage: A dog may swallow a rawhide treat only for the tough treat to get lodged further down in the digestive system, in the esophagus. The key symptom of esophagus blockage is vomiting. 
  • Intestinal blockage: A dog struggling with digestive issues may have swallowed a rawhide treat. Rawhide that is lodged in the stomach and can’t be digested may need surgical intervention to remove the treat and prevent infection. Dogs suffering from an intestinal blockage may vomit, lose appetite, or experience diarrhea or constipation. 

These unintended effects can make it risky to choose rawhide for dogs. But luckily, there are many rawhide alternatives.

Popular alternatives include bully sticks--natural treats that keep your dog as occupied and happy as rawhide does, without the risks that come along with that source. Trachea is also a great alternative that provides your dog with healthy nutrients that supports your dog's hip & joint health.

So next time you're shopping around for new chews, look for options that are gentle on sensitive stomachs and 100% digestible--making them safer choices for you dog.