When a dog consumes rawhide, it will digest in the same amount of time it takes regular dog food. Although there’s conflicting research when it comes to the consumption of rawhide, it’s generally considered safe for dogs.
Rawhide chews are a popular treat for dogs that will satisfy their chewing instinct and keep their teeth clean. But what exactly is a rawhide, how long does it take for a dog to digest, and what risks can they possibly pose?
An Introduction To Rawhides
To answer these questions, it is important to know what rawhides are and what purposes they serve for dogs. They are not just a simple treat that a dog consumes like food, and there is a lot of conflicting information surrounding their benefits and risks.
What Is A Rawhide?
A rawhide is pretty much what it sounds like: part of the hide of an animal, usually cow or horse, processed to be consumed by your dog.
This involves several steps in the manufacturing process, including the inside of the hide being separated (since that is the layer your dog will eat), cleaned, and ground up and pressed into the treat shape.
It can also be treated with beef or chicken flavoring to make it more appealing for a dog to eat.
Keep in mind that some rawhides are suspiciously sourced since they are often leftovers from the butcher industry.
Months may pass between when the hide is processed and when it is turned into a treat for your dog. The liquid solutions that the hides are soaked in are not something you’d want your dog to eat, which is why it’s always a good idea to rinse the rawhide before giving it to your dog.
If you’re able to, research the company that makes the rawhides to find out where they source them. Do your best to buy from a company that manufactures the treat in your country.
Why Are Dogs Given Rawhides?
All dogs have an instinct to chew. This can be greater or lesser depending on your breed, but this natural instinct is found in almost every canine.
In the wild, dogs would gnaw on bones, but many types of bones can splinter and endanger your dog.
Rawhides can be a good alternative if used correctly, and the activity of chewing can occupy your dog for many hours.
Any safe-to-chew item, including a rawhide, can alleviate boredom and anxiety in dogs. When their instinct to chew is satisfied, they’ll be less inclined to chew shoes, furniture, and other undesirable items in your house.
A happy dog is a well-behaved dog! Furthermore, the friction against their teeth and the increased salivation can help control plaque, decreasing the risk of gingivitis and other harmful oral diseases.
Risks of Rawhide
Despite the benefits that rawhide can provide, there are also some potential risks that you should be aware of. Most of them have to do with digestion, and the possibility of problems depends on your dog’s habits as much as the quality of the treat itself.
Contamination From Rawhides
As mentioned previously, the origin of your dog’s rawhide is essential. Rawhides can be at risk of contamination by trace amounts of toxic chemicals leftover from the manufacturing process.
This can also be true for pet toys, but since your dog is ingesting the rawhide rather than simply chewing it, it is even more important to ensure that it is safe.
Some dog jerkies sourced in unreputable companies were found to cause a fatal kidney condition, which can also be true for rawhides.
Safety standards are variable or nonexistent for many pet treat manufacturing companies, so make sure you’re aware of this.
There have also been instances of rawhide being contaminated with salmonella — dangerous for your pet as well as for you.
If you choose to give your dog rawhides, be sure to purchase from a reputable company and wash the rawhide before giving it to your dog to reduce the risk of contamination.
Upset Tummies From Rawhides
Some dogs have more sensitive stomachs than others. They may be sensitive to the hide itself, or allergic to the additives put in the rawhide during the manufacturing process.
Keep an eye out for an upset stomach and remove the rawhide if you notice any symptoms in your dog such as diarrhea or loss of appetite.
Choking From Rawhides
There is a risk of your dog choking on a rawhide. Depending on the rawhide itself and the strength of your dog’s jaw, a piece might be chewed off and lodge itself in your dog’s throat. This can be very, very dangerous for your dog.
Make sure that the rawhide is thick, not thin, since thinner ones can be more easily broken. Ensure that your dog is supervised when chewing on its rawhide so that you can intervene, either by removing it when it breaks or by providing immediate medical attention in the instance of choking.
A veterinarian will hopefully be able to dislodge it from their throat, but there is no guarantee that your dog will survive the process of choking long enough to get to the vet.
Digestive Issues From Rawhides
If your dog chews and breaks off a piece of rawhide, there is also a risk that it travels safely through the esophagus but gets trapped in another part of the digestive tract.
If the piece is large, it could take months to break down. This can cause an obstruction and would also require immediate medical attention to remove.
Signs of digestive obstruction are vomiting, fatigue, weakness, and lack of energy. If you witness any of these symptoms in your dog after chewing a rawhide, take them to the vet right away.
Safe Digestion of Rawhides
Despite all of these sobering risks, more often than not, the rawhide will be safely digested. High-quality rawhide manufactured by a reputable company without chemical processing will be safe for them to chew.
If the rawhide is thick and your dog does not have powerful jaws that can break the rawhide, they will gnaw and soften it, ingesting more saliva than hide. Even if they eat some of the small, softened pieces, they should pass safely through the dog’s digestive tract in the same amount of time it would take regular dog food.
Look for treats that are marketed as “digestible,” which will mean they are specially formulated not to cause bowel obstructions or any other digestive problem.
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