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The Dangers of Rawhide Dog Chew Toys


Other poisonous residues that may show up in rawhide include arsenic and formaldehyde. Even dog skin is a possibility. An ongoing investigation of the fur trade by Humane Society International, an arm of the HSUS, resulted in this information, as listed on their website: “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 U.S. stores.”

Back to the Factory (Farm)

There’s no knowing where it’s been, and where it begins is also unsettling. Rawhide is a by-product of the CAFO—or concentrated animal feeding operation, the bucolic term for today’s industrial farm.

“Nasty, brutish and short” is how Ken Midkiff, author of The Meat You Eat, describes the life of the animals who give up their hides. He’s no expert on rawhide, but Midkiff says he knows far more than he cares to about CAFOs, where thousands of “sentient beings,” crammed together inside huge metal buildings, “never see the light of day until the truck comes to pick them up for slaughter.”

“There’s also a major problem with various drugs,” he adds, citing a CAFO cocktail of antibiotics, arsenicals and hormones used to boost production.“While the claim is made that these don’t remain in the meat of hogs or beef, that claim has not been tested by any federal agency.”

Pattie Boden, owner of The Animal Connection in Charlottesville, Va., where organic toy enthusiasts shop, doesn’t carry rawhide. Instead, she stocks free-range chews, bully sticks, and organic raw bones, from shins to lamb necks. Her purchasing-protocol (and philosophy) is one owners might apply in their own search for healthful treats.

“I’m not going to be the most financially successful pet store,” Boden says, “but I feel confident in the products I select, and I can sleep at night.”



This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 49: Jul/Aug 2008
Sheila Pell is a journalist and contributor to The Bark.
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Submitted by crogers | June 29 2013 |

My 11 and 12 year old pups have been off rawhide since the doggie daycare they used to go to once a week banned them 10 years ago. Their favorite treats are raw frozen meaty marrow bones. I get them at local farmer's markets when I can, grocery store when I can't. They get them once a week. Keeps their teeth in great shape. And makes them very happy.

Submitted by Tracy | June 30 2013 |

What types of chews would you recommend for a small dog who is allergic to beef and chicken? Currently I use origional denta sticks (oddly they have neither) or pig ears/pig skin raw hides. Still I would like to find other options. We also do the frozen kongs with pumpkin, sweet potato, and such.

Submitted by BigWhiteDog | June 30 2013 |

It would be nice if there were some test results instead of hyperbole. How about showing what chemicals do actually show in in these things instead of a lot of scare, lots of emotion grabbing and little facts.

Submitted by Shari | June 30 2013 |

I have four dogs. They all love to chew. I too was anti-rawhide because I assumed they posed a choking hazard. Instead, I was buying "Made in America" bullysticks. However, when the bullysticks went up in price for the third time, I switched to cow hooves. This didn't last long as I discovered my dogs were able to chunk off sharp pieces of the hooves and were swallowing them. Pig snouts gave a couple of my dogs diarrhea. I tried the Nylabones that specifically said "Made in the USA," but the dogs didn't really go for them. I also tried Kongs and different chew "toys," but they were to easily destroyed and sometimes swallowed. I then talked to a well respected veterinarian who has been practicing for forty years. He said he gives his dogs rawhides, and in his forty years of practicing, he has never had a problem case due to rawhides. So, I do give my dogs rawhides. We have a chain grocery store in Michigan called Meijer that carries the Pet Factory, Made in the USA, 100% American Beefhide products. The only ingredient listed is American Beefhide, and the package states the rawhides are, "100% Made in the USA following strict GFSI food quality standards.."

Submitted by Robin R. Wicker | August 6 2013 |

My female basset hound just survived removal of part of her intestine and the surgical opening of the stomach. Yes, it was caused by a rawhide that did not digest. She was inches away from peritonitis. No symptoms were apparent until she was in agony and severely infected. The diagnostic tests, surgery and recovery was $5,000.00. I have given my dogs U.S. rawhides for years, with no problems. Never again.

Submitted by Anonymous | September 8 2013 |

I had a rottie and I gave him bones from my butcher. You can buy a bag for quite cheap and I would roast them first to kill off any bacteria. He loved them!

Submitted by lucie | November 14 2013 |

not being rude or smart but getting to point we can't give our pets anything brought i love my doggies with all my heart but can't be in kitchen forever either as my wheelchair dosen't fit either so what do i do i did all that cooking and ect with my last doggie and she still left me a few months before her 7 th birthday due to severe animia and heart mumer and broke my heart and my first doggie had all store stuff and lived forever ripe old boy bless him so now i have this one what do i do and i was wondering aren't bones from buthcer and animal bones bad because they splinter???? thankyou :)

Submitted by Victoria | November 15 2013 |

Lucie, I could be wrong, but it is my understanding that only poultry bones splinter. Whereas beef and pork bones do not.

Submitted by naomi | November 19 2013 |

I believe they splinter if they are cooked first, if they are raw they supposedly don't, however, I have given my dog raw rib bones and found small pieces- I guess they are softer since they are raw rather than cooked?

My dog is a big chewer and I found the only thing that I don't worry about too much are bully sticks/bull pizzle. I've tried elk antlers but they chipped her teeth, so I quit that too...

Submitted by JULIEinDSM | December 26 2013 |

I give my dogs bully sticks... they are beef tendon... easier to digest and the dogs LOVE THEM! Another item I give them occasionally are deer antlers... again... a HUGE FAVORITE!

Submitted by Mike | January 15 2014 |

You can spend your life savings buying bully sticks for two dogs. At $6 to $9 per treat per dog per day, I would be spending more on my dogs for a treat than I spend to feed myself.

Submitted by Renee Seiler | January 24 2014 |

My mom's friend's dog just died from stomach torsion. RAWHIDE IS NOT MEANT TO BE SWALLOWED-IT IS NOT DIGESTIBLE!! If you read the directions(if any) these chews are meant to be chewed until they are soft, then removed to harden again, NOT to be swallowed. They are the worst things ever developed for dog chews!!
I give my dogs pig ears, from a wonderful place in Nebraska, you can buy in bulk and they are much cheaper (and fresher) than the ones you find in Wal-Mart, etc. NEVER BUY YOUR FOOD OR TREATS FROM YOUR GROCERY STORE!

Submitted by Jessica | January 26 2014 |

Just yesterday, we had to put our puppy down due to severe blockage from a rawhide. It was given to her for Christmas. Little did we know it would lead to her death. We had her in emergency overnight to try and get her to stabilize enough for surger, and she did not respond well to the fluid treatment, so sadly we had to say goodbye to our sweet girl. I'm so appalled they sell these harmful products for the pets we love like family. I'm also disgusted at how much the veterinarians take advantage of the heartbroken, scared families, knowing there's no saving the animal, yet still pushing for expensive treatments and tests only to see the animal suffer more.
Where is the justice in any of this?

Submitted by lucy23 | April 6 2014 |

It deeply disturbs me how some vets take advantage of people and misleading them in medications, treatments, or just plain wrong info! I saw one 3 years ago, and "respected with 38 years of practice" tell an old lady that raw hides where the best for her Great Dane puppy. He was pretty big already and I advised her otherwise afterwards. Disgusting! I'm still careful in selecting my vet and it's been 3 years! But I think I finally found one and I'm glad she also recommends organic natural remedies at times too. Don't forget to always search online to get more info on your dogs needs/ treats!

Submitted by Sharon Henderson | April 14 2014 |

Better add Nylabone Flexi Bones MADE IN THE USA to the danger list. Our little Zoe spent 3 days in hospital fighting for her life on IV's, laxatives, and pain medications because she had chewed off and swallowed some plastic shards from this "non-toxic" "healthy" chew bone--within a couple of days of giving it to her. $600+ vet bill and several xrays later she still has shards in her intestines and may have to have surgery.

Submitted by anhalter | July 17 2014 |

We NEVER buy rawhide or bully sticks for our dogs. If you are into organic and high quality dog treats like us, stick with crunchy all-meat treats like Little L's krakems, or Bocce's biscuits. They are made from local ingredients and in NYC (where standards and quality regulations for pet food are the highest in the nation).

Submitted by Natalie | August 8 2014 |

They made my two Boston Terrier aggressive

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