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Former Ring Bone Chewer - Dogs and Rawhides

Posted by Kelly Jansens on

Bodie loved the ringbone style rawhides. It would take him three to four days to work his way through one. He was a chewer and it was his favorite treat. I never knew they may not be a healthy or safe treat for a dog until three years a go or so, when I read more reports about them and the risk hazards.

Bodie was always supervised when he had his ringbone and never showed any negative signs from chewing rawhides. He loved the ring bone shaped ones as he paraded it through the house and tossed it in the air before he pounced on it. After he chewed it for a while, I would take it away from him and put it away for later.

Chewing is good for your dog…better than chewing up a pair of your shoes or the couch for that matter. It provides stimulation and can help relieve anxiety. Great natural tooth brush for dogs as well.

What are rawhides made of? Rawhide treats come from the inner layer of a cow or horse hides. During manufacturing process they are pressed into dog treats. Some manufacturers use glues to hold the pressed shape together and they may even use bleach to clean the hides out. To make them more appealing for dogs, some hides contain beef, chicken and other flavors.

I always looked for rawhides that were made in the U.S.A. and read the ingredients list.

These are the most common rawhide risks by: Pet MD

  • Contamination. As with pet toys, rawhide chews can contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals. And, as with other pet (or human) foods, Salmonella or E. coli contamination is possible. Even humans can be at risk when coming into contact with these bacteria on rawhide treats.
  • Digestive irritation. Some dogs are simply sensitive or allergic to rawhide or other substances used in their manufacture. This can cause problems, including diarrhea. 
  • Choking or blockages. Rawhide bones and other edible chews can pose a choking and blockage risk. In fact, this is a much bigger risk than contamination or digestive irritation. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Depending on its size and where it is located, a vet may be able to remove these pieces fairly easily through the throat. But sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death. 
  1. How can I make rawhide chews safer for my dog? If you decide to offer your dog rawhide, you can take certain precautions to make them safer. To minimize your risk of exposure to contaminants, wash your hands thoroughly after handling these treats. Have young children and family members with immune system problems avoid handling them at all.

 To protect your dog:


  • Ask your vet about how much is safe to give your dog. The general rule is the smaller the dog, the fewer the chews. Especially at first, give one at a time. Then wait a day to see how your dog’s intestinal system responds.
  • Separate your dog from other pets so he or she can relax while chewing. This way, your dog will be less likely to gulp large pieces whole. Doing this might be especially important if you have a dog that is very territorial around food.
  • Offer different types of rawhide, but only when you can supervise and see how your dog is handling the treat. Is she swallowing big bites? Is he starting to gag or choke? If so, take the treat away and check with your vet about other types of rawhide or other types of chew treats or toys.
  • Take the rawhide chew away from your dog once it is small enough to swallow whole. If it is hard to get your dog to give up the rawhide chew, try asking him to sit and then offer another type of treat.

Watch for signs of bacterial contamination, gastric irritation, or a blockage. Contact your veterinarian if your dog has signs such as:

  • Gagging
  • Regurgitation
  • Repeated swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, with or without blood
  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Signs of pain
  • Refusal to eat or weight loss 
  1. Should certain dogs avoid rawhide treats?

Does your dog have a history of diarrhea or other digestive troubles after chewing on rawhide treats? Or does your dog tend to swallow big chunks of rawhide, putting him or her at risk for a blockage? If so, try alternatives for keeping teeth clean and satisfying your dog’s urge to chew.


Photo: Bodie with a Bully Stick from - Fido & Stitch, Grand Rapids, MI

Over the last three years, I found alternatives to rawhides for Bodie, by buying bones from the local butcher and bully sticks. There are all kinds of other products that are on the market now that are healthy and safe. There is also a product called No Hide Chews made by Earth Animal, which looks like a safe alternative.

Thanks for reading!

Love, Peace & Wags

~Kelly - Dog mama to a former ring bone chewer

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