When people think of chewing treats for their dog, they usually think of rawhide first. Most dogs will enjoy chewing on a rawhide bone, but you should be aware that these treats can cause problems with any dog. We used to get out French Bulldogs rawhide bones all the time, but have stopped now. The reason is that one of our dogs, Springer, had been given a rawhide bone and was happily chewing away on it. As it was a Sunday, we were sitting around relaxing and reading when I noticed that Springer was acting strangely. He was in the next room and when I went in, at first I could not see what was wrong. As I bent over him, a length of rawhide shot up out of his throat, then shot right back in. He had evidently started to swallow a foot long piece, but then it got stuck. Timing the action, I waited for the rawhide to pop out again, then grabbed it and pulled it out of his throat. Springer had managed to untie the bone and the entire length had been in his throat. The look of disgust he gave the rawhide when I threw it away, summed up the situation perfectly. We have never gotten rawhide for the dogs again.
While there may be dental benefits to chewing a rawhide bone, the fact that rawhide can be dangerous to your dog’s health probably means that it would be better to brush your dog’s teeth rather than give it one of these bones. Although dogs like the taste of rawhide bones, there really is no nutritional value to be derived from them. When deciding whether rawhide is good or bad for your dog, keep in mind that serious harm can come to your dog from these products, regardless of how much the dogs likes to chew it.
Rawhide can be very dangerous for your dog, not only with the problem of choking, as poor Springer experienced, but if a larger piece is swallowed, it can cause an intestinal obstruction, which might well necessitate surgery. Also, unlike most foods and treats that you give your dog, rawhide takes a long time to be digested. This undigested rawhide can turn sour in your dog’s stomach or intestines and can cause your dog to vomit or experience diarrhea. Another source of concern is that these rawhide bones can often contain salmonella bacteria, posing a potential health problem to anyone in the house.
Rawhide bones are often made using chemicals that we would rather not have our dogs exposed to. Bleach is generally used to provide a uniform color, and depending on the manufacturer, formaldehyde is sometimes used. In order to remove the hair from hides, they are soaked in lye, a caustic agent. These chemicals hardly sound like appetizing or healthy additions to any dog’s diet. Even if you manage to find a rawhide bone that has been produced using completely natural methods, there is still the choking hazard and intestinal problems to keep in mind. Most people are unaware of how dangerous rawhide is for dogs.
Once a rawhide bone has been chewed and has dried, it can present hardened, sharp edges. If your dog chews on these edges, it can cause cuts and abrasions in the mouth. The gums and roof of the mouth can be damaged, and this damage can lead to infections. Problems can also occur if the gums are forced away from the teeth, as this can lead to decay.
There are plenty of much safer chewing treats available for your dog, ones that will satisfy your dog’s chewing instinct and provide dental benefits as well. The first thing to remember when choosing a chewing treat for your dog is to be sure to get the appropriate size. Any chew treat that a dog can swallow whole is dangerous. Some dogs are also more vigorous chewers than others, and a more durable treat should be chosen for this type of dog. There are dental bone treats made of natural ingredients that many dogs enjoy, and these will clean the teeth and satisfy the urge to chew. Nylon bones now come in different flavors to tempt your dog, and hard rubber chew toys such as kongs will also provide the chewing exercise you dog wants.
The many choices available mean that it is not necessary for you to expose your dog to the dangers of rawhide bones in order to satisfy its chewing instinct. If you are in doubt about which chew treat is best for your dog, it might be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian, he or she will be able to explain the pluses and minuses of the treats available on the market.