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What's the verdict on rawhides?

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  • What's the verdict on rawhides?

    I have always been told that rawhides are bad for dogs due to the risks of obstruction if they bite off a big chunk. Being that I've had a dog with not one but several GI surgeries for obstruction or perforation, I've always steered clear.

    However, the veterinarian I work for actually recommends them. He advises clients to stay away from say cow femurs or antlers with the idea that those bones are harder than the enamel on the teeth and can result in excessive wear. But he actually recommends rawhides. Today alone, I think I heard him recommend them at least 5 times.

    I haven't looked into it much and it's not a big deal...just wondered what you all think?
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

  • #2
    I personally never gave them to my dogs after trying them when they were little dogs. The Min. Pinscher was like a little buzz saw, and would take the compressed ones, chew the ends off, and spit them everywhere, and that only took a day or so. Then I read that many rawhides are from overseas, including China, and are treated with unsafe methods. I did better with my Min Pin with Nylabones, and just kept an eye out, and when the end knobs were gone, the bone was gone. My other dog preferred stuffed squeaky toys anyway, so I never offered him rawhides. And there's nothing as yucky as stepping on a slimy, cold rawhide piece with your bare feet.
    Last edited by JanM; May. 4, 2013, 08:11 PM.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


    • #3
      My opinion on this is that dogs can choke or get an impaction from anything - kibbles, stuffing, rocks etc. Does that mean we should offer them nothing but soup (and then there is always aspiration pneumonia)?

      There is little solid evidence to support any risks of rawhide chew treats for dogs, but there IS evidence of dental benefit.

      1. Dental care: there are two studies documenting some benefit in terms of reduced plaque, calculus, and gingivitis from chewing plain rawhides (as opposed to those specifically treated to be used for dental care).

      Stookey GK. Soft rawhide reduces calculus formation in dogs. J Vet Dent. 2009 Summer;26(2):82-5.

      Lage A, Lausen N, Tracy R, Allred E. Effect of chewing rawhide and cereal biscuit on removal of dental calculus in dogs.
      J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1990 Jul 15;197(2):213-9.

      2. Other benefits: I have heard claims of behavioral benefits, but I haven't found any specific studies that looked at rawhide or other chew toys for treatment of behavioral problems apart from this, which involved a number of factors.

      Takeuchi Y, Houpt KA, Scarlett JM. Evaluation of treatments for separation anxiety in dogs.
      J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000 Aug 1;217(3):342-5.

      3. GI obstructions: There are case reports published, though opinions seem divided over how common this problem is. Some vets say they are extremely common, others have never seen one from a rawhide. Given the enormous number of rawhides consumed every year, this would seem to suggest a pretty low risk, but I have found no quantification of this anywhere.

      4. Infectious Disease: Again, recalls and reports of potential Salmonella and other infectious organisms associated with rawhides seem to happen from time to time. This seems an inherent risk of any food or treat containing animal ingredients, and again subjectively it seems a relatively small risk, but I haven't seen any empirical documentation of how serious a problem it is, just a few scattered case reports.

      5. Chemical contaminants: Many web sites warning owners against giving rawhides claim that research has identified arsenic, lead, and other dangerous chemicals associated with rawhide treats, but I haven't found any documentation of specific contaminants, exposure levels, or documented harm.

      ::Shrugs:: I think one bad experience, and you get a mob mentality where people shun things (the whole "dry food is bad for pets" thing, anyone?).


      • #4
        I've given rawhides to both my dogs. The Mini Schnauzer does just fine with them, chews them down slowly and has no problems.

        The English Mastiff on the other hand gets a little too exuberant and ends up tearing off/swallowing large pieces which he in turn throws back up. That happened twice and no more rawhides for him. I've found he does much better with the pork skin rolls.

        I guess it just depends on the dog?


        • #5
          I worry less with a moderate chewer but I do worry about chemicals and preservatives. Dexter also gets it in his beard which creates a sticky mess. I don't provide them but if he finds one when I am visiting family or friends I don't have a melt down.


          • #6
            I don't do rawhides, but give Bully sticks. seem more digestible.
            Or I give raw knuckle bones.


            • #7
              I give my dog appropriate hide chews all the time. I don't give him super-hard stuff and I won't ever give him that Nylabone garbage. He eats beef and chicken basted bone-shaped rawhide and it works fine for him. You can easily find rawhide that doesn't come from China or Thailand but the easiest thing to do is to look on the back of the packaging as most brands will tell you where their stuff comes from and some of the simple rawhide treats come from South America, which is safer than anything from China or other Asian sources. Avoid anything from Dollar Store-type sources and the colored/flavored rawhide treats you find at Petco and PetSmart as those come from China and can be questionable.
              Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


              • #8
                I give my dogs rawhide and my vet thinks it is fine as long as it is the right size and the dog actually chews and doesnt attempt to swallow huge chunks. So, kind of a "know your dog"thing. I do get rawhides from USA or S America. Would not feed anything from Asia as I just dont trust that it isnt contaminated in one way or another.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MsM View Post
                  I give my dogs rawhide and my vet thinks it is fine as long as it is the right size and the dog actually chews and doesnt attempt to swallow huge chunks. So, kind of a "know your dog"thing. I do get rawhides from USA or S America. Would not feed anything from Asia as I just dont trust that it isnt contaminated in one way or another.
                  I agree with this. I have a dog that I would never give a rawhide to, but that is because that dog has shown a tendency to try to eat large chunks of things. My vet has also told me to avoid anything from China. With dogs I would give a rawhide to, I'd stick with pressed rawhide (so there are no knotted ends) and err on the side of too big. Something preservative free would be all the better.


                  • #10
                    Everyone you ask will have a different opinion on this one, even vets. You'll hear horror stories about rawhides, natural bones, the new pressed chew things, pigs ears, stuffed toys, ropes, and every other thing out there. The reality is that dogs can end up with GI obstructions, choke, etc, from any damn thing in the world.

                    They can also get sick and die from something they pick up in the yard to eat, even a stick, or if they get into the trash, or even randomly decide to get into your bathtub one day, get your razor off the rack where it has lived for ten years of their life without ever a glance at it, and then proceed to chew it up and try to eat it (ask me how I know this…)

                    The bottom line is that they gotta have something to do. So as someone else posted, know your dog and monitor it with any sort of new type of chew treat to make sure are safe and chewing/consuming it appropriately. Or as relatively safe as possible, which is all that you can ask for, right?

                    FWIW, I've given all 3 of my dogs rawhides and big natural bones for years with no problems at all. Then 3 months ago my 12 year old got really sick one day, distended abdomen, etc, and got all sorts of diagnostics. Rads showed some sort of mineralized frag in his intestine that was visible on only one view, but no obstruction or obstructive pattern, the radiologists said they saw this sort of thing pass fine all the time and did not think this was what was making him sick. Repeated abdominal ultrasounds couldn't figure out what was going on and also said this was not the problem, and did not recommend surgery. However, I know this dog chowed down on a rawhide the day before, so I suspected this was what they saw on the rads. But it could have been other thing that he picked up and ate without me knowing it. And maybe this was the problem, but he recovered quickly on his own with only some residual wicked gas… So if this was the problem, and if it was the rawhide, it passed on it's own, thank god. But who knows? I was nervous about giving him rawhides again, but eventually broke down because he loves them, was so bored, and….needed something to do!


                    • #11
                      I think they are fine for otherwise healthy dogs. A dog with digestive issues or bad teeth or who will break big bites off and swallow, no. But a generally healthy, sensible dog, sure.

                      I prefer strips or smaller rolls for my dog (partly because they don't last long, so she's not chewing on it while I'm trying to sleep!). I have actually found an inexpensive source for American made rolls at Target. If she were a more aggressive chewer, I'd probably get her something a little more heavy duty, but she's pretty mild and is happy with the light duty ones I get.

                      I absolutely will not give anything that is pressed or granulated. My old dog, as a puppy, got scary, scary sick on those (18 years later, I would not be surprised if they were made in China and full of bad crap...especially for a young dog). It wasn't until I was MUCH older that my mom told me she was terrified I was going to come home from school to find my puppy dead, she was so sick Thankfully, she recovered and lived a long life, but I hate those granulated things now and avoid them at all costs.


                      • #12
                        Not sure I'd give them to a dog. My experience: years ago, at a friend's house, she had a large (HUGE) white dog (not sure if it was a specific breed or a mutt but huge sweet doggie). She had given him a giant rawhide bone and all of a sudden we heard an awful wheezing/gagging noise. The dog had chewed off one of the end and was choking. Not sure why I did this but I stood over the giant dog and gave him the heimlich - popped it out and the dog was fine. We were not so fine!!! But based on that, I probably would not.
                        ~* Be kind to one another *~


                        • #13
                          They love them but with so many recalls for bad products and then I had TWO dogs choke on them, luckily I was home at the time. (at separate times) So to me it just isn't worth the risk. There are plenty of other chews you can get that are safer.
                          Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                          Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                          • #14
                            Like every other dog owner on the planet, back in the 70's, 80's, & early 90's, I always gave my dogs rawhide "bones" to chew on. But haven't provided them for probably around a dozen years or so due to several issues:

                            1) I didn't like the fact that so many of them can be treated with &/or contain Lord knows what. And the fact that whatever that is, it most likely won't be listed anywhere.

                            2) Even when I was able to find supposedly "untreated" rawhide products, 9 times out 10 my dogs ended up with "the trots" after chewing sessions.

                            3) We've always had multiple dogs, & rawhides were uber-enticing, which meant more doggy disagreements & skirmishes - even with a number of different rawhides to choose from.

                            4) The clincher? When, even in the same room & under close supervision, my Doberman managed to tear off a rather large thick chunk & get it lodged deep in her throat. In a dead panic, & only because way back then I had Dragon-Lady-length fingernails, I was "just" barely able to shove my hand in & snag an edge of the offending wad & get it out. It was not easy, & I felt very lucky that I'd not only been in the room, but that I hadn't cut my nails!

                            After that, I just didn't feel that there were enough benefits to outweigh the cons of rawhide.

                            These days the gang happily play with a variety of safe plush toys, & enjoy their Nylabones - both the original hard ones, & the softer "gummy" ones. No "trots", no disagreements, no choking. I do buckle under & buy them something special for Xmas - lately these: http://www.smithfieldmarketplace.com.../11/pet-treats. Come 3 to a pack & the dogs love them. There's a lot of cartilage, & even the bones are softer than one would think, with no splintering. Since they're smoked, they are salty & the dogs do drink more (thus requiring more piddle breaks during the next 24 hours), but again - this is a once-a-year thing, & each dog gets to enjoy one in his crate Xmas morning - but still under close supervision.


                            • #15
                              Between dogs that hunt and neighbours who dump dead stock and field dress deer and leave it 200 m from my house, rawhides are probably the cleanest items my dogs chew on. The only problem I have had knock on wood was the dog that ate hoof trimmings of a pony being treated with turpentine for ouchy feet - he was a little off for a day. The joys of country living.


                              • #16
                                I am in the anti rawhide camp. I have seen more dogs get them stuck in their esophagus than I want to think about. I recommend antlers and cow hooves. Those are what we use for our pack.


                                • #17
                                  I usually give raw hides, I have never ever had any problems with them. 1 large bone will last a couple of days. I gave Dyna a Nylabone this morning for the first time ever. Left the room for about 10 mins. Went back to check on her and it was already gone. I bought the largest one they had on the shelf.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by cnigh View Post
                                    I gave Dyna a Nylabone this morning for the first time ever. Left the room for about 10 mins. Went back to check on her and it was already gone. I bought the largest one they had on the shelf.
                                    Cnigh - you bought the wrong type of Nylabone. There's no way even the most aggressive chewer could demolish even the smallest original rock-hard Nylabone in a day, never mind 10 minutes. Even the Nylabone "Gummabones" (for puppies & soft chewers) couldn't be consumed in 10 minutes. However, Nylabone DOES make a bone that's meant to be completely consumed in a relatively short amount of time. They look like regular Nylabones, but are more like rock-hard dog biscuits. I'd look more carefully at what you're buying.


                                    • #19
                                      This could be a nothing but, when my dog was eating rawhides, she had a reaction to several antibiotics for chronic ear infections. Now, no rawhides-no problem with antibiotics or ears. Hmmm?


                                      • #20
                                        I bought a plain one of these nylabones. Is it the cookie type? I was sort of surprised it was gone so fast, but my dog can chew through just about anything.