Is Rawhide Dangerous For Dogs?

Is Rawhide Dangerous For Dogs?

Are rawhide chews dangerous for dogs?  I mean really?  We see them lining the shelves of our favourite retailers – surely if they were THAT bad no one would stock them?

Let’s consider reasons for feeding rawhide chews:

Long lasting – awesome, dog is kept quiet whilst we crack on with our daily chores

Odourless – fantastic, no stinky chew lying around the house

Cheap – even better, I can grab a bag of 10 for less than £1 whilst doing my weekly shop

Natural – it says on the packet rawhide is a natural product which has got to be good, yes?

Erm, no.

Rawhide chews start out hard, but as your dog chews is it gets softer, until it is the consistency of chewing gum. By that point, it is nothing more than a choking and intestinal obstruction hazard.

If you understood what it took to make these harmless looking chew sticks, you would quickly understand what the problem is and why companies such as myself want to scream ‘No!’ when customers ask us if we stock these nasty things.

Even with the horror stories about dogs needing emergency surgery after eating rawhide, SO many dog owners believe that this chew is some sort of harmless, dried up meat stick.

It’s not!

A rawhide stick is not a by-product of the beef industry nor is it made of dehydrated meat. Rawhide is a by-product of the Leather Industry, so theoretically it is a leather chew. (Yum).

How to they make rawhide chews?

So, if this is actually leather, how on earth does it get transformed into the various shapes and sized chews available on the market.

Below is a step-by-step guide for how your average rawhide chew is created.

1. The Tannery

Cattle hides are usually shipped direct from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. The hides are then treated with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport to help and delay the rate of decaying.  (This doesn’t stop the decaying process. Only slows it.)

Once at the tannery: the hides are soaked and treated with either an ash-lye solution or a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulphide liming. This process will help strip the hair and fat that maybe attached to the hides themselves.

Once complete, the hides are then treated with chemicals that help “puff” the hide, making it easier to split into layers.

The outer layer of the hide is then used for items such as clothing, shoes, handbags etc.  

But, it’s the inner layer that is needed to make the rawhide (other items made from this inner layer are glues, cosmetics etc too)

2. Bleach Bath (with a few extra chemicals thrown in for good measure)

Now that we have the inner layer of the hide, it’s time to go to the post-tannery stage! Hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach.

Research also shows that other chemicals may be used here to help the whitening process if the bleach isn’t strong enough.

3. Time to get creative

Now it’s time to make these whitened sheets of this leathery by-product look delicious! The treated hides are rolled, pressed, glued and shaped into endless varieties.  Then for the piece de resistance, they can be smoked and decoratively tinted using chemically produced dyes and paints.

4: To the supermarket shelves

Once ready for sale, the rawhide chews are packaged up ready to send to your retailer.

Be warned: The packaging may stated it comes from the UK, but this is highly likely where it is packaged NOT where it is manufactured.  The largest exporter of rawhide chews is China. 

A loophole in the system allows UK retailers to import their goods and then package them up with their UK name and address on them!

When rawhide has been tested, Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Chromium salts, Formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals have been detected in rawhides.  This is most likely from the glues and paints used.

So this Christmas, when a well-meaning friend buys your pooch a mass-produced Christmas Stocking that contains rawhide chews.  Do yourself, and your pooch, a favour and chuck them in the bin!

Laura, Reggie & Dolly x

Advice from the experts