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The Dangers of Rawhide

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

It’s a story that pops up on your newsfeed. One of your friends has shared yet another tragic story of their pet getting sick from a dog treat. You glimpse at the pictures, skim the screen long Facebook post by someone you’ve never heard of before, and reply with a sad face. Maybe you share it, but you probably don’t, because really what are the chances of it actually happening to you or someone you’re close to. One in a million, right?


Rawhide has quickly become labeled as one of the deadliest chew toys in the world for dogs. But contrary to the Kong scandal of 2015 (the chew toy with a single-hole ball on the end that dogs tongues were getting stuck in), the dangers of rawhide are still unbeknownst to many. It seems that if you aren’t deep into the dog world on a daily basis, the stories of rawhide seriously injuring and killings animals can escape your daily Internet musings.

If you watched the video we posted last week on Facebook you would have leanrt that the main reason for so many of the issues found with rawhide is that it technically isn’t a dog treat or food product at all. It’s a by-product of the leather industry, and so does not fall under the same laws and regulations that dog food products fall under. As Dog’s Naturally Magazine describes it, it would be more accurate to call rawhide “a toxic "raw" leather stick”, than a chew toy or treat. The emphasis on “raw” being the key in this statement, since rawhide goes through multiple stages of chemical treatments and processing, and are not simply raw, dried up meat sticks, as consumers are lead to believe.

But those are just facts right. No body believes facts. Because ultimately, like we said at the beginning, the chances of your dog getting sick off of one of these leather chews is incredibly unlikely. After all, why would they put something on the shelf in a store if it were dangerous to animals .....

On February 3rd, at 3:30 in the morning Kayla was woken up by a sound that could only be described as pure terror. (yes this is the very same Kayla Farrell, supervisor and pack leader). Her and her boyfriend opened their eyes to a scene from a nightmare. Mijah, their 5-month-old golden retriever was screaming and crying, covered head to toe in bloody vomit and diarrhea. There was so much blood and fluids that it had begun seeping out of her kennel and into her dog sisters kennel stacked below her. They immediately called the emergency vet, who thinking the description she gave was an over-exaggeration told them it was probably just an upset stomach and that she had torn small fissures from the strain, hence the blood.

Kayla knew something wasn’t right though, and as soon as her own vet opened in the morning she was there with Mijah. It took them two days and multiple x-rays, tests, and finally an ultrasound to figure out what was wrong with her. Her intestines and stomach had become so inflamed that only a course of fluids and heavy medications allowed the vet to be able to find that there was a chunk of something creating a blockage in her intestines. Mijah was considered lucky, with laxatives they were able to flush the blockage back into her stomach and have her throw it up, instead of having to have it surgically removed.

What was the blockage? A chunk of rawhide.

Mijah had gotten a massive rawhide bone with an adorable little bow on it from PetSmart for Christmas, and had been slowly chewing and eating small pieces off of it for the past month. The exact same thing that Kayla’s and her friend’s and family’s pets had done all their lives. Except this time the chunk of rawhide didn’t break down, it expanded in Mijahs intestines over night, growing large enough to block them. If they had not caught the blockage when they did, it would have eventually ruptured her intestines.

Is this story meant to scare you? YES. Because as much as we like to sit off to the side of these types of things and think, "this will never happen to me". It can. And if not you, it could be someone else know. And yes, for the naysayers, on most rawhide packaging it does state in the fine print about "Choking or blockages. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.” What it doesn't state that in addition to these risks Rawhide has also been found to contain a multitude of harmful chemicals including Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Chromium salts, and Formaldehyde.

With so many other truly natural, and healthier options for our pets out there, why are we still allowing our friends and neighbours to give there pets these toxic leather sticks. Not only did Mijah almost loose her life, it also cost them over 1,500 dollars in vet bills. Don't let one cheap raw hide bone, or rawhide chew treat, cost your dog its life.

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