Choosing The Right Chew
For those of
us who have dogs that chew, we're always looking for something for them to gnaw
on besides our furniture or our shoes. Dogs chew for many reasons, boredom,
anxiety, teething, not enough exercise, hunger or as a relaxing pastime.
There is a wide array of products out there for your dogs to chew on--some
products are good like bully sticks, Himalayan Dog Chews, raw bones, and some
good quality toys. There are also products out there, like rawhide that you
should never give to your dogs.
Rawhide is made from dried animal skin. This in itself is not a problem. It's
the processing that is done to the dried skin that can be harmful to your pet's
health. Rawhide is not a product of the pet food industry, but is a by product
of the leather industry. This means that it is produced in a tannery -- which
are rare in the United States.
The hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. To
prevent decay, they go into a brine bath (salt solution) for about 12 to 18
hours before being exported. They are then packed and shipped to countries like
China (where it can take two weeks to or several months to arrive).
After arriving at the tanneries, the fat must be removed from the hide so
manufactures use a Lime solution and soak the hide for 1 to 3 days and then hair
is scraped off through both a physical and chemical process. This process is
highly caustic but the most efficient for mass production.
The hide is then treated with chemicals to help puff up the hide to make it
easier to split into layers. The rawhide made for your pets comes from the inner
layer of the hide.
To sanitize the rawhide, it is then put in a bath of hydrogen peroxide.
Sometimes when the hide is exported, it will rot during shipment so a bleach
solution will be used to improve the appearance and aroma. If the decay is
advanced, the hide will be treated with other chemicals and even painted with a
coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and pretty on the store
In low quality rawhides made out of the US, there have been chemicals such as
lead, arsenic, mercury chromium salts, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals
found in the hide.
There are a few tanneries left in the USA. US tanneries use a completely
different process to make rawhide and it is less likely that chemicals are used
in the processes. If you choose to feed your pet rawhide, confirm that it is
made in the US. Be careful of tricks as some products from China will have an
American flag on the packaging. Rawhide processed in the US, cost more to make,
so a good quality chew will cost more then ones coming from China.
With this being said, be careful when giving your pet rawhide. Due to the nature
of the way it swells up when wet, it can create a choking hazard for your pet as
well as intestinal problems if large chunks are chewed off and then swallowed.
As with any chew you give your pets, find out what the product is made of and
make sure your pet is supervised as to prevent any choking hazards.
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