Rawhide 101

Rawhide. The stuff is everywhere. And it is available in so many different forms. Choose your own dead animal part pig snouts, ears, hooves, innards or just plain cow skin. I love them all! But why is it risky business to feed me these treats?

Rawhide is cured animal hide pressed into shapes, such as bones, or just left au natural. This seemingly ultimate chew toy (inexpensive and hey! Us dogs all love'em) has lurking danger potential, especially if us dogs are not monitored for our chewing habits.

Rawhide can be chewed up into tiny pieces and scratch the throat on the way down to the gut. That is if it makes it to the gut. Choking is another very real danger of rawhide as the uneven, gnarled pieces may get lodged in my throat. If the happy hide makes its way down there without a hitch, then there is the need to worry about acute pancreatitis and intestinal blockage.

The rawhide comes from bull, cow and horse hides obtained from slaughterhouses. Once all the meat is scraped off, the hide is repeatedly soaked in an ash-lye or lime solution. The ash-lye involves covering or soaking the hide in a mixture of wood ash and water, which creates lye. The hide soaks for approximately three days, then the hair is scraped off.

As if this weren't scary enough, the next process is sanitizing with a bleach solution. The rawhide is then pressed into shapes and dried, during which time the rawhide shrinks up to half of its size. This means that the rawhide will expand in my stomach, once it is wet with saliva and swallowed. My gastric juices will not break it down and it is this bloated piece of hide that can cause a stomach upset or even my death!

Now this does not sound like something I should eat! But I love rawhide so is there such a thing as "good" rawhide? Yes, there is. Purchase American made as there are regulations to processing and hides are fresher with shorter time from cow to you. Hides sent to China, with non-regulation processing, can take months just to get there! Hides can be black with mold and bacteria like salmonella by the time they hit processing. The hides have to sit in bleach a long time to be sanitized! A common practice with processing in China is to use arsenic and formaldhyde in their processing! Dangerous stuff!

SO REMEMBER: Whiter the bone or rawhide, the longer it has sat in bleach, which probably meant it had an excess of mold and/or bacteria to start with. AND never chew on any rawhide that is colored! Deadly dyes.

submitted by Hana Banana, the terrier


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