Rawhide can be found in plentiful supply in most pet stores, and are often one of the cheapest treats you can buy for your dog. They are popular among owners due to their supposedly 'natural' ingredients and the fact that they can last as a tasty treat for your dog for days, or hours if your dog is a food fanatic! Chewing is an instinctual behaviour in dogs which cannot be eradicated, but can be redirected, which is why some owners choose to provide their dogs with rawhide bones and treats. However, there are a number of risks associated with rawhide, which many believe outweigh the benefits of rawhide, as well as various alternatives that are better for your dog.
Contamination and Toxic Chemicals
Rawhide chews comes from the inner layer of cow or horse hides, and are often thought to be made entirely of natural ingredients. However, depending on where its made, the rawhide is often treated with toxic chemicals remove any hair and prevent decay, which can be dangerous for our dogs. Furthermore, always be sure to check the country of origin and read the label to ensure there are no added chemical which can be harmful to your dog!
When large chunks of rawhide are broken off they become high obstruction risks as they are not easily digestible. All pieces of rawhide your dog eats will be digested as chunks, as they won't be broken down within their body as easily as other foods, which is a serious health risk. A large chunk can not only cause an obstruction within their digestive system, but can last for months within their stomach, which will cause gastrointestinal issues.
So What Can I Use Instead of Rawhide?
A Kong stuffed with food is an absolutely great alternative to keep your dog mentally stimulated, and it can keep them busy for a good 30 minutes at a time, ensuring your dog's needs are met and satisfied. A Kong is a non-toxic, dishwasher safe, hollow toy that can be stuffed with food (wet food/peanut butter is best), which provides dogs with a health outlet for their instinctual desire to chew and lick. You can also freeze the kong to make it last even longer as a fun activity for your dog.
Be sure to consider your dog's overall health and chewing habits before offering them rawhide, if you know your dog is a fast eater and is likely to bite off and swallow large chunks of rawhide, I would recommend against giving them a rawhide chew, due to the risks of obstruction. Keep your dog busy and fulfilled instead with a Kong, or other similar food puzzle toy, which will meet their hard-wired instinctual needs.