Are Rawhide Bones Bad for Dogs?

Rawhide bones are natural chew toys that many canines like to gnaw on. The bones have a number of benefits but may pose a few health risks. Knowing how to choose rawhide bones for your pet will make sure the dog is healthy and enjoys his treats.

Are Rawhide Bones Bad for Dogs?

Rawhide bones are a rough surfaced treat that can keep your dog occupied for hours. They may be good for the dental health of the dog and will also keep him from developing behavior problems such as chewing around the home, which can be due to boredom. However, these are benefits that may be provided by other treats or chew toys.

The rawhide bones may be bad for your dog for a number of reasons:

  • Some bones can be very rough and may cause tooth or jaw bone fractures.
  • The bone splinters can be swallowed without being properly chewed and these can cause organ puncture.
  • Larger chunks of rawhide bones can choke your pet, blocking the respiratory ways. If these chunks can be swallowed, they may cause other problems in the stomach or the intestinal tract (i.e., intestinal occlusion). These conditions will often require hospitalization and even surgery.
  • The rawhide can be difficult to digest, because the gastric juices will not be able to decompose it, due to its rough texture. This can cause indigestion and bad breath.
  • Allergic reactions are commonly developed to rawhide. Even if the dog doesn't swallow the bones, they can irritate the skin.
  • If swallowed, the bones can cause bacterial infections (salmonella), because the rawhide may carry a number of bacteria from the animal they are made of (such as cattle). However, many of these bacteria will not cause distress, as the gastric acids will neutralize the bacteria as soon as these reach the stomach.

Consequently, the rawhide bones have many negatives and overall they may be bad for the dog's health. Not all dogs experience these reactions, but it's helpful to be aware of the potential problems the rawhide bones may create.

Rawhide Bones for Your Dog

Rawhide bones have many disadvantages that may convince you to switch to healthier and less risky chew toys or treats for your pet. However, if the rawhide bones are your dog's favorite treat and you want to stick to rawhide bones, you will have to choose them carefully. Bear in mind a number of criteria:

  • Get appropriately sized rawhide bones to prevent choking, jaw or tooth fractures and intestinal occlusions.
  • Opt for rawhide your dog is less likely to be allergic to (if your dog is allergic to beef, avoid cattle rawhide and buy rawhide made from the skin of other animals). You may test a few types of rawhide and see if your dog has skin dermatitis or whether he vomits after chewing on these treats.
  • Supplement your dog's diet with fibers, which will help digestion if the dog swallows the rawhide.