If you normally buy your dog rawhide from the grocery or department store to help him satisfy his urge to chew – think again! Unfortunately, rawhide is one of the most common items given to dogs but also the most dangerous. 

Rawhide is the tough inner layer of cow, water buffalo and horsehides. The flesh side is scraped clean and the hair is removed in a Lime solution. It is highly caustic but efficient for mass production. To remove all traces of the Lime solution and to sanitize the rawhide it is then rinsed in bleach.

Dogs can and will chew off and swallow large pieces of rawhide which can get stuck in their esophagus, stomach or intestines.  As rawhide swells up to 4 times its size, this almost always causes life-threatening blockages and requires surgical removal. Rawhide chews can also cause acute pancreatitis, which can vary from mild gastrointestinal upset to collapse and death

Rawhide is not considered a food item, and is therefore not covered by any labeling, processing or content laws.  Some of the things that you can find in grocery or department store rawhide are: chemical preservatives, Salmonella bacteria, arsenic, ethoxyquin, formaldehyde and other chemicals such as BHA and BHT, antibiotics, lead and insecticides.

The most common and much healthier alternative to rawhide is ‘beef chews’, because they have no preservatives –even natural preservatives such as salt or smoke.   They are also fat free and don’t splinter like some bones may.  Beef chews have high nutritional value and are completely digestible if swallowed.   Other things your dog can chew safely are real bones, either smoked or raw, or nylon chews which come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, flavours and densities.