Dogs love rawhide bones, but are they really safe for them? Rawhide bones are readily available at your local pet stores and dogs love to gnaw or chew on them. They can also help your dog maintain healthy teeth and gums. Most people will tell you that they are safe if you carefully monitor your dog while he is chewing but even then they can be dangerous to your dog. How so you may ask?
Rawhide bones are bones made from animal skin, typically cattle. Rawhide bones are sometimes made by mixing cattle skin with pig skin. They can easily splinter when dry, and if your dog is a fast chewer and especially of larger size, he can bite off larger pieces that are sharp and that can perforate your dog's throat, stomach or bowel. It is very important that when giving your dog a rawhide bone, that you buy one that that is larger than the dog's mouth to prevent ingestion of whole pieces that had not been chewed properly and choking. Rawhide also expands when wet, so if your does not properly chew the rawhide before swallowing, the rawhide can expand in his intestines and cause a blockage. The intestinal blockage can lead to the dog's death if left untreated. Many dogs with sensitive stomachs will have problems digesting rawhide as a result of its tough and thick composition. Fast chewers or any larger breed dogs should not be given rawhide bones unless you are confident that they can safely ingest them and have no stomach discomfort afterward.
If you are looking for alternatives to rawhide bones, there are many. You could give your dog nylon bones to chew on them which are also healthy for their teeth and their gums. Nylon bones scrape away plaque, control tartar build-up, and maintain gum health by massaging the gums. Nylon bones will also stimulate your dog's mind and keep them busy for hours. This is especially important for dogs that constantly have the urge to chew to stop unwanted chewing behavior around the house. Nylon bones will also relive your puppy's teething pain and stimulate growth of adult teeth.
You could also try giving your dog real bones, but again you run the risk of the bone splintering and causing perforation of the intestine which can be a serious condition. Even though real bones are somewhat safer than rawhide bones, there is still the danger of sharp pieces breaking off and, as a result, many dog owners are against giving your dog real bones. Another substitute to real bones and rawhide bones are dental sticks made in different varieties, flavors and by different manufacturers. Just visit your local pet store and you will see a large assortment of these products. They will keep your dog's chewing needs satisfied while also cleaning his teeth and freshening his breath. You will see that they sell them in different textures, from soft to chewy to hard. You can choose the texture that best suits your dog's chewing habits and preferences.
If you are looking to give your dog rawhide bones, just know the dangers associated with rawhide bones. We are not saying that you should not give to any dog rawhide bones, but for some dogs there are better alternatives that are safer and provide the same benefits of rawhide bones - mind stimulation, reduce boredom, healthier teeth and healthier gums.