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    Rawhide Recommendations & Risks

    Originally posted by ZenCat 09-01-2007 10:30 AM

    I was formerly anti-rawhide but now have resumed using it after a long discussion with my vet. For me, the choice between limited regular chewing with a reputable product beats having to put my dogs under anesthesia for teeth cleaning (which I had to do with one of my dogs last year). Here's some more info, especially note the arsenic concern, which should not affect domestic rawhide.

    What is Rawhide?
    Rawhide is the inner layer of the hide of any cleft-hoofed bovine livestock. Beef-Hide is premium rawhide made from cows raised for consumption. American Beef-Hide is derived from corn-fed cows within U.S. borders.

    What is Rawhide made from?
    The animal's skin is split into inner and outer layers. The tough outer layer is used for leather shoes, garments, and upholstery, while the softer inner layer is cut and formed into different shapes for dog chews.

    What makes Rawhide so tough?
    Collagen fibers link to make the animal's hide tough yet flexible. Human skin has the same basic structure but is much thinner.

    Where does Rawhide come from?
    The quality of rawhide is often related to its country of origin:

    American Beef-hide: Corn-fed beef raised in the U.S. supply a thick, palatable and high quality chew.
    American beef-hide is considered "The Source" of choice for premium chews

    Oriental Water-Buffalo: Raised to work in the fields of countries like China, Korea and Thailand, they are a common source of imported rawhide.

    South American Range Cows: These animals are fed on grass and typically have little fat and a rough, fibrous consistency. They are warm weather animals with a thinner skin.

    How is Rawhide processed?
    The animal's hide is transported to processing plants where it is split, washed, and cleaned. The hides are then cut, formed and dried into many varieties of rawhide you see in the stores. In less developed countries a lack of modern roads and refrigeration trucks often requires the use of preservatives to get skins from outer-lying areas to processing plants. In the U.S. fresh beef-hides are refrigerated during shipping to prevent degradation, spoilage, fouling and the need for chemical additives

    Will my dog chew such a hard rawhide?
    When collagen in the skin dries out, it becomes stiff. As your dog chews, the saliva moistens and softens the rawhide. Foreign rawhide is often sun parched while U.S. beef-hide is oven dried to prevent over drying. Smooth shiny areas on a chew are a sign of heat breakdown indicating an extremely hard area that the dog may not be able to soften.

    How can chews help my dog?
    Natural tendencies of wild canines and their predecessors was to sink their teeth into their prey and pull away on the hides stripping the skin and meat. Inherent in this feeding processes was the beneficial action of the tugging and pressure on the teeth and gums which served to toughen the gums and clean the teeth for a continuously healthy mouth. Chews offer two valuable benefits to your dog.

    Dental Benefits
    Infections, kidney and heart disease can result when poor dental health gives bacteria an environment to enter your dog's body. Bacteria in the dog's mouth breaks down food particles and converts them to plaque and excess acid. The plaque can become mineralized to form a hard deposit on the tooth surface called "calculus." The excess acid damages the gums resulting in gingivitis. Unchecked gingivitis results in periodontitis, the leading cause of tooth loss. As rawhide is chewed and moistened, it wraps around the teeth and rubs off plaque and calculi.

    Behavior Benefits
    All dogs have an inherent desire to chew, especially puppies. Aberrant chewing can be a sign of lack of exercise or a vitamin deficiency, but it is most often a normal desire to chew. This drive can exhibit itself on furniture and clothing items. Beef-hide offers a dog a safe chewing outlet.

    How do I tell Country of Origin?
    Country of Origin is required packaging information. Look closely for indications of imitations of U.S. Beef-hide such as "Made from U.S. Beef-hide in China or Mexico" or "Product of S America." This is a further indication that even the importers recognize the value of U.S. Beef-hide.

    What do I need to know about basted rawhide?
    Basting ingredients are procured from flavor producing companies that cater to the food industry. USDA and other governmental requirements ensure the quality for U.S. goods. Foreign imported rawhide must use U.S. made basting products or a U.S. approved basted products.

    Are basted items non-staining?
    Some basted rawhide claims to be non-staining. Generally, the food colors used are water soluble and once wet can run and will most likely stain. Clear Basted American Beef-hide has the flavor your dog wants and is safe for your carpets and upholstery leaving only faint indications of any staining if any at all.

    How often should I feed chews?
    Rawhide is not a food, but a safe chewable toy that can be, and most often is, consumed. It is 80-85% protein, 10-12% fiber and moisture, and 1-2% fat. High in protein, low in fat, especially compared to pig ears and other pork skin products, and fewer calories per ounce than a typical dog biscuit. One or two hours of daily chewing is sufficient.

    Which size and shape should I chose?
    Fortunately, chews come in every size and shape imaginable. It is important that the chew be large enough and thick enough that your dog cannot easily chew off and swallow a large piece or the whole chew. Rawhide that requires more than 7 days to chew should be replaced due to dirt and bacteria buildup.

    Which dogs should not have chews?
    If your dog has gastrointestinal disease or is eating a therapeutic diet, you should seek a veterinarian's approval before feeding any chews. Dogs with beef allergies or that consistently swallow bones whole should probably not receive chews unattended.

    Are there any dangers in rawhide chew products?
    If your dog consistently swallows bones whole, it should probably not receive chews unattended. When the chew has been enjoyed down to a small portion, you may want to remove the remains if your pet tends to try to swallow or eat pieces that are just a little too big for the pet.


    Buy ONLY from reputable manufacturers. Rawhide is not regulated in many countries. In some these countries, arsenic-based products are used as a preservative in rawhides. Ultra-white treats may have been treated with bleaching chemicals.

    Please read if you use rawhide or similar products (pig's ears, bully sticks, etc.) for your dogs! In addition to the choking/obstruction hazards of these chews, they are frequently recalled for Salmonella.

    The Dangers of Rawhides

    This common treat that is available as an inexpensive chew toy can be a danger to your pet. Rawhides are basically cured animal hide, which is molded and pressed into bones shapes for your dog to chew on. A company that manufacturers many types of rawhide products describes rawhides as "the inner layer of the hide of any cleft-hoofed bovine livestock." Besides their undesirable origin, they are a dangerous choice for your pet.

    Why are they dangerous?

    Prolonged chewing makes the material soft, and stringy. This soft, stringy material is a choking hazard for your pet.

    They can break into small pieces. The small pieces are a choking hazard for dogs, and it is not uncommon for dogs digesting smaller pieces to throw them up later on when their stomach is empty.

    Because of the texture of the material dogs often swallow pieces that are larger than they should. This can damage the esophagus and the back of the throat. In addition, undigested pieces can cause intestinal obstruction.

    Consuming too much rawhide material will cause your dog to get diarrhea. Rawhides are digested slowly, and there is a limit to how many pieces your dog’s stomach can digest.

    There is no standard on how rawhides should be made. You will notice, in most cases, that the packaging does not contain a list of ingredients.

    Rawhides are made from animal bi-products, and salmonella bacteria can be found in some rawhide products.

    Some dogs are allergic to rawhides and/or the chemicals used to process them. This can cause itching in the skin, ears and face. Statistics suggest that 40% of dogs are allergic to cowhide rawhide chews.

    Rawhides that are white or cream colored contain many chemicals that are unhealthy for your dog. These bleached rawhides are suspected as a cause of cancer in dogs.

    Health problems from rawhide chews include sore throat, intestinal blockage and acute pancreatitis.

    If you insist on feeding your dog rawhides, please make sure you do not leave them unattended. Try and find a rawhide brand that includes a list of their ingredients (if you can.) Only buy clear, unbleached rawhides. Also, make sure you check the origin of the rawhides you purchase as well - Some countries supposedly use an arsenic-based preservative when processing them! So, make sure they are purchase from Canadian or American companies only!

    Other Dangerous Bones

    Pigs ears are just as hazardous, and possess both choking and bacterial risks, the same as rawhides. Beware of (cooked) chicken bones, turkey bones, pork bones, steak bones, veal and lamb bones. These bones splinter easily and are also considered to be a dangerous choking hazard. Cow hooves are hard enough that they can actually chip or break a dog's teeth.

    Ant article by the Food and Drug Administration issues a warning about contaminated pet chews:

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    Last edited by ZenCat; 03-22-2008 at 09:11 AM.

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to emma_Dad For This Useful Post:

    ronmcq (02-09-2015), SoapySophie (03-01-2015)


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