Is Rawhide Bad for My Pet?

What is rawhide?

Rawhide is the skin of an animal (mostly cows) that has been cleaned, stretched and dried, but not tanned. If you look up all the ways rawhide has been used over the many years it has been produced you will see that its features make it a very useful material.

Rawhide is solid and inflexible when it has been dried, but it is readily softened by moisture and becomes easy to shape, stretch or break.

It has long been thought that these characteristics make it an ideal treat for dogs. They can chew on it and as they chew it becomes soft enough to eat small portions of the treat.

Is this bad? Well, that is a loaded question. Let’s investigate.

1. Is it harmful for a dog to eat animal skin that has been dried and shaped?

NO. Dogs have been eating animal skin, meat, bones and organs for thousands of years.

2. Is it possible for a dog to have an allergic or gastrointestinal reaction to this processed skin?

YES. It is possible to have these types of reactions to any edible product. Some manufacturers of rawhide will also add flavouring or dyes that a dog may or may not react to.

3) Is it possible for a dog to bite off a large chunk of rawhide and choke or have that chunk obstruct his gastrointestinal tract?

YES. It is important to observe our dogs while they are chewing on the rawhide. If they are aggressive chewers and able to bite off large chunks, rawhide is not the right treat for them. Other dogs will just gnaw at the rawhide without removing chunks. Use your best judgement.

4) Is rawhide appropriate for puppies?

MAYBE. Use the same guidelines shown above for puppies.

It is up to the owner to decide whether rawhide is appropriate for his dog. Each dog is different and will tolerate different treats. Snack well, furry friends!

Written by: Tara, RVT