Are Rawhide Chews Dangerous for Pugs?

Are Rawhide Chews Dangerous for Pugs?

Rawhide Chews are treats to entertain your dog and keep them from chewing on your shoes. They also help dental health and your dog’s chewing needs. It is a natural instinct for dogs to chew. They chew when teething, when they are hungry, excited or even when they are anxious.

However, chewing can often take a turn for the worse when it’s your shoes, clothes or kitchen furniture playing the role of a chew toy. This is why rawhide chews have always been an option for pet parents that don’t want to keep sacrificing shoe upon shoe.

There has been a lot of controversy about rawhide chews in recent years. These treats have been touted as being unsafe for pets due to a number of reasons ranging from choking hazards to chemical ingestion. Are rawhide chews really unsafe for your Pug dog?

In this article we will discuss what rawhide chews are made of, whether they really are unsafe and what alternatives you can get for your dog’s chewing needs.

What are rawhide chews?

Contrary to what the name might imply, rawhide chews are not exactly raw.

Rawhide is the inner skin of animals like pigs, horses or cattle, thoroughly cleaned with chemicals to prevent decay.

They are dried and sometimes spun in circles, these circles are mostly held with adhesives.

What are rawhide chews?

These hides go through a series of processing stages that effectively renders them processed and not raw. For preservation, once the hide is removed from the carcass, it is given a chemical bath to stop the hide from decaying before processing.

Chemicals like ash-lye are then applied to remove hair and fat, after which the hide is spilt into layers. The hide is then washed in bleach to remove any lingering smells or odors. Finally, the manufacturers try to make their hides pretty and inviting so they color and flavor it, which often includes the use of more chemicals.

Rawhide chews are not food products. They are made of leather and can take a lot of constant chewing before they start breaking into chunks. But they are not edible.

How to make Rawhide

The most dangerous pet chew ever created: Rawhide!

Dangers of rawhide chews

There’s no doubt that rawhide chews can be great for your dog’s oral health.

They provide stimulation for your dog, keep jaws strong, keep teeth clean and even help with fresh breath. They also keep tartar from building up in your dog’s mouth.

However, despite these advantages, rawhide can be very dangerous for your Pug dog. Some of these dangers include the following:

Dangers of rawhide chews
  • Rawhide chews can pose a terrifying risk of choking and blockage. Eventually, the constant chewing and saliva coating will soften these chews and make them easier to break down and swallow. However, these treats cannot be digested, so it forces the dog to pass out the exact same size your dog swallowed, which might vary because the hides, depending on the manufacturer, might swell up in the dog’s stomach.
    • This is very painful for the dog and most of the time, surgery will be needed.
    • If the pieces broken down are too large, it might cause choking that can lead to death.
    • While these treats can be great in distracting your dog, there are alternatives and other options in order to avoid chocking or blockage.
  • Another potential hazard is the amount of chemicals in the hide. These can cause contamination and toxic poisoning depending on how it is manufactured and how sensitive your Pug is.
    • A lot of these rawhide chews are flavored but these flavors might cause diarrhea and vomiting or just allergies in general. This also hinges on how the chews are manufactured and how sensitive your dog is.
    • You should pay close attention to the quality of your dog’s rawhide chews as those of poor or questionable quality can break your dog’s teeth or jaw.
    • Questionable additives can also adversely affect the kidneys and liver.
    • Salmonella and E.coli are also a major cause of concern as the threats of rawhide chews are not only restricted to your dog. Human beings can be infected with these illnesses.
Pug dog chewing rawhide

We do not recommend rawhides chews, however, If you insist on giving your Pug dog rawhides please ensure the following

  • Buy directly from safe sources. Imported hides might have more chemicals to prevent rot; it's advisable to avoid them.
  • Make sure to wash the hides thoroughly with water before giving them to your Puggle. You should also wash your hands after handling the hides to prevent stomach illness and bacteria.
  • Always give the right size of Chews to your dog. Don't give your big dog a small chew, they might attempt to swallow it whole which would be disastrous and vise versa.
  • If your Pug doggy is very territorial about food, you might want to create a safe place for them so they can relax and be less likely to swallow huge chunks.
  • Take the treat away once it's small or soft enough to swallow. Try rotating with other treats and toys.
  • Pug puppies and small dogs need constant watching when hides are given to them.
  • Watch for signs of blockage or choking, or infections. Note any symptoms that are not normal and contact your vet immediately.
  • Safety measures will be more effective if you tailor them to meet your dog's specific needs, behaviors and habits.

Safe Treats and Dangerous Treats For Your Dog - Ask the Vet

Not all treats are safe for your dog. In fact, some doggy treats are downright dangerous. Be careful with what kinds of treats you give to your dog. Some treats can cause lacerations in the mouth and throat. Other treats can cause intestinal blockage.

Dr. Courtney Campbell DVM breaks down all the classic treats from dangerous treats, safe treats and treats you may already have in your refrigerator.

Natural/ better Alternatives to Rawhides

If you’re worried about your dog’s safety with rawhide chews even under close supervision, you can try out the following alternatives:

  • Vegetables: Carrots are great alternatives and you could put them in the freezer for a little while, so they last longer. Cabbage stalk is also a nutritious chew and the best part is that they have low calories.

Alternatives to Rawhides

  • Toys: There are so many safe toys that are perfect for chewing, pick one that works for you. To make them more enticing, try dipping them in chicken broth or smearing peanut butter all over it. But be careful to pick only the right size for your dog.
  • Rice chews: There are several types of chews made from rice that you can get at the store. They are both edible and will keep your dog safe.
  • Raw Bones: Now these can be risky, you just have to watch your dog and watch what type of bones to give. Go with a hip or femur bone and don’t give cooked bones. These can splinter and cause choking or internal injury.
  • Sweet potato chews: Cook these properly, dry them out in the oven until they have rough edges and they are safe to give your French Bulldog with supervision.
  • Antlers: These are full of potassium and zinc and they last long even for heavy chewers. Pug dogs will also need monitoring when you give them these chews.
  • Himalayan Chews: These are made of cow and yak milk with a little bit of salt and lime for flavor. These are not so easy to find but they are as tough as bones and even if they eventually get broken down, they are not as dangerous as rawhide. But dogs shouldn’t be allowed to swallow huge chunks and still need supervision.

We know you love your Pug dog breed and they need to chew, however, it is essential that you constantly watch while they are gnawing on any of these chews to avoid bacterial and any other issues.

Thanks for reading and we hope these tips can help you take better care of your Pug. For more tips on taking care of your Pug, sign up to our Pug Blog. You’ll find plenty to help you keep your furry companion in good health.


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