Is Rawhide for Dogs Safe?

Many dog owners give their dogs rawhide bones to chew on. Chewing helps remove tartar, aids in the prevention of periodontal disease in dogs and is beneficial to gums. Although it a popular treat among dogs who like to chew, rawhide for dogs can be harmful.
Rawhide for dogs is made from the inner hides of cows and other bovines. After the inner hide is removed from the outer hide, it is washed, processed and shaped into bones and chews.
Much of the rawhide for dogs sold in the United States is made in China and other countries where various types of bovine animals are used. The processes and materials used to make rawhide in these countries are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture or any other U.S. regulatory organization.
Solutions used in processing of rawhide in other countries may be damaging to the dog's digestive system. Solutions containing lye are commonly used to separate the inner and outer hide. A bleach mixture is used to cleanse the rawhide and arsenic is used as preservative.
Rawhide made in other countries may also contain antibiotics, lead, insecticides and other chemicals which may cause bad reactions in dogs. There is also the possibility of dogs contracting bacterial infections from salmonella and E coli bacteria that may be present.
But even rawhide for dogs that has been made in the United States may be potentially dangerous for dogs.
Rawhide for dogs is difficult to digest. While chewing, some dogs will tear off pieces of rawhide and swallow them. Undigested pieces of rawhide can expand in the stomach and intestines. This can cause gastric indigestion and sometimes even blockages in the intestines. Surgery may be necessary to remove the blockages.
In addition, large pieces of rawhide can get lodged in the throat or esophagus causing dogs to choke.
Symptoms of bacterial infections, chemical reactions, gastric irritation and intestinal blockages that may be due to the ingestion of rawhide include regurgitation, swallowing, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, dehydration and depression.
Since rawhide for dogs can be dangerous, dog owners have found safer alternatives to giving their dogs rawhide. These include fresh natural knuckle bones from the butcher, raw carrots, hard rubber toys such as Kongs and bones made from potato starch such as Nylabones.
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