There’s no doubt about it—dogs love to chew. And fortunately, chewing provides some real benefits. It can be a great stress reliever and also scrapes away tartar and calculus from your dog’s teeth and gums where harmful bacteria can form. But what is an appropriate chew toy for your dog?
Many people choose “bones” made from rawhide, which is simply the dehydrated skin of a cow. Rawhide tastes similar to beef, which is why dogs find it so irresistible. The downside is these tasty treats can also be hazardous for dogs.
The raw facts about rawhide
As your dog chews and slobbers on his treat, the hide becomes rehydrated, soft and gooey. When it reaches this point, your dog is able to tear away sections from the main bone. Most of the time your pet will simply end up eating the hide and it will pass through his digestive system. However, on rare occasions, larger chunks may be too big to completely swallow, causing your dog to choke. Intestinal blockage can also occur if the chunk of hide is too large to be sufficiently digested and becomes lodged somewhere along the intestinal tract. Surgery may be required to remove it.
Boning up on rawhide safety:
- Make sure the chew is large enough so that your dog can’t fit it completely into his mouth.
- Give your dog a rawhide chew only when you can be around to keep an eye on him.
- Keep two rawhides on hand and trade them when one becomes too soft. The hide will harden as it dries, and you can give it to your dog again when the other chew becomes soft.
- Replace your dog’s chew when he has whittled it down far enough to fit in his mouth.
- Consider compressed rawhide made from layers of beef hide and formed under extreme pressure to create a very dense bone; it lasts three to five times longer than regular rawhide.
In the end, it’s your decision whether to treat your dog with a rawhide. Just be sure he has something appropriate to chew. Otherwise, he might just decide to go for a table leg or your favorite pair of loafers.