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Is Rawhide Bad For Dogs?

Rawhide used to be one of the most popular dog treats out there, with pups all over the world loving to chew the ‘leathery’ treat. Is there a reason that the hype plateaued over the years, or is this just a major coincidence?

Why Rawhide?

For decades, many dog owners have bought rawhide as their go-to chew. This is typically down to how much their pup loves chewing it, which can be a major relief for teething puppies. Rawhide is typically marketed as a byproduct of the beef industry and sometimes even ‘dehydrated meat’.

Rawhide chews are actually a byproduct of the ‘leather industry’. The ’hide’ element of rawhide begins with splitting the animal’s hide - usually, horse or cow - and the inner portion of the animal’s hide goes to the dogs in its ‘raw’ state. Making Rawhide.

See here the grim process from an animal's hide to your local pet shop. 

Step One - Processing 

The hides are treated with chemicals to preserve the product and to stop it from being spoiled within transit. Once at the tannery, the hides are soaked and treated with ash-lye solution or a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulphate liming, stripping all hair and fat that is attached. Then, they are treated with even more chemicals to ‘fluff out’ the hide, to make it easier to split into layers. The outer layer is typically used for car seats, clothing, shoes and purses. The inner layer is used to make rawhide along with toxic ingredients including glue, cosmetics and gelatin.

From here, the process continues on as bad as it started.

Step Two - Chemical Cleanse

Once the layers have been split, it’s time for the post-tannery stage! They are washed and whitened, using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and bleach which also removes the smell of rotting leather. Sometimes, other chemicals are also used in this stage just in case it hasn’t worked well enough already.

Step Three - Disguising

The whitened sheets of ‘leathery by-product’ need to look appealing now, so here is where the manufacturers get a little arty.

“Basted, smoked, and decoratively tinted products might be any colour (or odour) underneath the coating of (often artificial) dyes and flavours. They can even be painted with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and pretty on the pet store shelves.” –

“…the Material Safety Data Sheet reveals a toxic confection containing the carcinogen FD&C Red 40, along with preservatives like sodium benzoate. But tracking the effects of chemical exposure is nearly impossible when it’s a matter of slow, low-dose poisoning.”–

Time to keep its beauty everlasting.

Step 4 - Preservation

It is then time to package and attach all marketing labels to the product.

At the end of this lengthy process, a couple of these chews had been tested. Would you be shocked to find out that a high amount of toxic chemicals had been found in the rawhide?

Recently and predominantly in the past decade, more and more cases of oesophagus and intestine blockages from rawhide have been reported, caused by their pup chewing the chew. A majority of times, abdominal surgery is needed to remove these blockages and if left unresolved, can lead to death. 

Is it a major coincidence that this chew has suddenly become unpopular, or was it a long time coming? We think that due to how they’re sourced and the large amount of toxins contaminating the confection - the plateau is for the best. You can replace your rawhide with something less dangerous all around, like sweet potato chews, dental chews or rubber toys.

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