Rawhide: most dangerous pet chew ever?

Rawhide is full of calories, dangerous to teeth, a choking hazard, toxic and absolutely misleading!

It is one of the most popular chewy treats on the planet, with many pet owners believing it is a dried up meat stick and a byproduct of the beef industry. It is in actual fact a byproduct of the leather industry!

“Producing rawhide begins with the splitting of an animal hide, usually from cattle. The top grain is generally tanned and made into leather products, while the inner portion, in its “raw” state, goes to the dogs.” TheBark.com

Here is the short version of how they are made:

Step One:

Cattle hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. The hides are then treated in a chemical bath to preserve the product during transport.

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. They are then treated with more chemicals to help “puff” the hide, making it easier to split into layers.

The outer layer of the hide is used for goods like car seats, clothing, shoes, purses. The inner layer is used make the rawhide and things like gelatin, cosmetics, and glue.

Step Two:

The inner layer of the hide is now washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach. This also helps remove the smell of the rotten or putrid leather. Other chemicals maybe used here to help the whitening process if the bleach isn’t strong enough.

Step Three:

Some whitened sheets of rawhide may be painted to appeal more to consumers.

“Basted, smoked, and decoratively tinted products might be any colour (or odour) underneath the coating of (often artificial) dyes and flavours. They can even be painted with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and pretty on the pet store shelves.”- whole-dog-journal.com

“…the Material Safety Data Sheet reveals a toxic confection containing the carcinogen FD&C Red 40, along with preservatives like sodium benzoate. But tracking the effects of chemical exposure is nearly impossible when it’s a matter of slow, low-dose poisoning.”– thebark.com

Step Four:

Because the FDA does not consider these chews to be food, really it’s a free for all when it comes to the manufacturers of these leather strips, and the products they may want to add to these chews, to get them to last forever. Any sort of glue can be added here to get these bad boys to never come apart.

When tested: Lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals have been detected in raw hides. So it’s safe to say that any sort of glues can be used as well!

Step Five:

The raw hides are packaged and sent on their way to stores. Some more responsible manufacturers include fine print warnings similar to this one:

“Choking or blockages. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the oesophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.”

An investigation by Humane Society International stated in their report, “In a particularly grisly twist, the skins of brutally slaughtered dogs in Thailand are mixed with other bits of skin to produce rawhide chew toys for pet dogs. Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in stores worldwide.” – dogingtonpost.com

Rawhide chews start out hard, but as your dog works the chew it becomes softer, and eventually he can unknot the knots on each end and the chew takes on the consistency of a slimy piece of taffy or bubble gum. And by that time your dog cannot stop working it -- it becomes almost addictive.

At this point, there’s no longer any dental benefit to the chew because it has turned soft and gooey, and, in fact, it has become a choking and intestinal obstruction hazard.

Reprinted from Planet Paws Pet Essentials.