Raw Hide Chews - Perhaps the Most Dangerous Chew on the Planet
This diagram shows how they are made - they are really processed leather
How can one of the most popular chew sticks on the planet be so dangerous for your pets, you ask?
I mean, most dogs chew on rawhide for hours on end, and not only does it keep them busy, but they seem to last forever.
Well if you understood what it took to make this toxic “raw” leather stick, you would quickly understand what the problem is.
Aside from the horror stories circulating all over social media these days, of pets needing emergency surgery after consuming rawhide, the majority of pet parents today, especially the newbies, believe that this chew is some sort of dried up meat stick.
Let me debunk that myth right away!
A rawhide stick is not the by-product of the beef industry nor is it made of dehydrated meat. Rather, rawhide is the by-product of the “Leather Industry”, so theoretically it is a leather chew.
How It’s Made
“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
So, how does this leather, which is conveniently rolled up into pretty shapes, actually get made into those rawhide chews?
Follow along my friends and I will enlighten you on how this hide travels through a leathery process where it transforms from hide to a not-so beautiful, colorful, chew stick. Here is a paraphrased tutorial that was explained by the whole dog journal several years back:
STEP 1: To The Tannery
Normally, cattle hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. These hides are then treated with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport to help prevent spoilage.
(No one wants to purchase a black, spoiled rawhide stick!)
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.
(No, no one wants to see a hairy hide…)
Next on this glorious journey, these 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 used for goods like car seats, clothing, shoes, purses, etc. But, it’s the inner layer that is needed to make the rawhide. (Oh and other things like gelatin, cosmetics, and glue as well!)
STEP 2: Cleansed In Chemicals
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; this will also help remove the smell of the rotten or putrid leather.
When I was involved in Port Health work in London Ports we would regularly test chews and find Salmonella and reject them, perhaps this is why they treat so throughly
STEP 3: Make It Look Pretty
Now it’s time to make these whitened sheets of this “leathery by-product” look delicious! So, here is where the artistic painting process comes in.
“Basted, smoked, and decoratively tinted products might be any color (or odor) underneath the coating of (often artificial) dyes and flavors. 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
Ok, now that these hides have been painted, it’s time for the final process.
Think this is bad? Check out what’s in your dog’s kibble… Click here!
STEP 4: Getting It To Last Forever!
When tested: Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Chromium salts, Formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals have been detected in rawhides.
So it’s safe to say that any sort of glues can be used as well!
Finally, it’s time to package and attach all the glorious marketing labels to the product.
Check out the fine print warning that’s attached with some of these rawhides:
Choking or blockages. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus 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.
(Oh, how lovely…)
And there it is! It’s now ready to be shipped to store shelves where it can be purchased for our loving animal companions.
How do proactive veterinarians feel about these chews?
“The name ‘rawhide’ is technically incorrect. A more accurate name would be processed-hide, because the skin isn’t raw at all. But the term “rawhide” has stuck.
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.”
P.S. Ready for the jaw dropper?
In the USA 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 the US
Let the picture do the talking:
So what is safe, healthier?
Have a look at our range of healthier treats
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Many and varied are the arguments presented against Biologically Appropriate Raw Diets for Pets.
As a veterinary surgeon I have been advising Raw Feeding for over 15 years, to the benefit of of our patients, and would never go back.
These are reason, researched arguments for feeding BARF diets to our cats and dogs.
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Nick Thompson BSc.(Hons) Path.Sci., BVM&S, VetMFHom, MRCVS has been a vet for 27 years.
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It’s a fast and furious rollercoaster of facts, figures and food. And nutrition products derived from food. Hang on to your hats.
This is a recording, there will be no opportunity to ask questions.
The statement has been released by the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society.
The I feel is a sensible well researched article mainly written by our president DrbLyn Thomson MRCVS
I hope you will find is useful if you feed your pet raw or advice people to do so
Disagreement exists within the veterinary profession about the proper diet for cats and dogs. The feeding of a raw meaty bones diet (RMBD) is receiving increasing attention as the raw pet food industry continues to grow .
There is a ‘seventeen-year gap’ between research being published and its practical application in first opinion practice . Lessening this gap is a priority, and given this Internet savvy age it is sometimes difficult for first opinion practitioners to keep up with their client base . Freeman et al. reviewed the risks and benefits of feeding an RMBD. The review noted that pet owners who choose to feed an RMBD do not rank nutritional information provided by vets highly . In this age of access to current science, our client base is often ahead of the game in terms of nutritional knowledge. With priority given to keeping themselves and their families healthy by eating fresh, unprocessed foods, they are often not prepared to feed processed pet food to their pets. The RFVS works with owners who choose to feed an RMBD, raising the profile of our profession from the negative perception with which it is currently held in this growing generation of ‘Internet-educated experts’. The Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (RFVS) significantly reduces the seventeen-year knowledge gap by accessing current nutritional research, and applying the principles in day-to-day practice.