We’ve all seen the adorable stockings, filled with pup-related treats, in the shops this time of year. I don’t know very many dog owners who don’t take this time of year as a further opportunity to spoil their furry friend. We need to be careful, however, about exactly what is in those adorably packaged gift solutions.
You can see our article on Fat in Treats for one major issue to look out for, but this article is geared towards another Christmas pooch favourite – raw hide.
There are numerous horror stories about raw hide and yet it is hugely prevalent in the pet market, whether in a pre-packaged treat selection or on the main displays in your local pet stores. The Enquirer asked our Frenchie Friends at Scampers about how to shop raw hide smart and they supplied us with some fabulous information; so here’s the low down…
We will touch on the risk of choking a bit later, but what happens when your pooch successfully swallows a too-large piece of hide? Well, there is first the risk of digestive irritation, making your pooch feel poorly/bloated/ill. Then, if the hide gets stuck, there is the risk of blockage.
Have you ever accidentally swallowed a chunk of crisp and felt it allll the way down your throat? Well, imagine that with the rawhide. If your dog swallows a large piece whole it runs the risk of causing friction damage to the oesophagus, stomach, and digestive system as a whole. Such damage may result in inflammation, causing a higher risk of blockage.
There are also trace amounts of bacteria that can be found on raw hide. This is known as the risk of contamination. In addition to the risk of potentially harmful chemicals, there could be food based bacteria that pose not only a risk for your dog, but also for you.
Positives for Hide:
So amidst all this bad press, what is good about hide? Well, it acts as a fantastic natural toothbrush for your dog, reducing plaque build-up and helping to keep teeth and jaws nice and strong.
The act of chewing is a natural behaviour to a dog – it helps them to relax and relieve anxiety, as well as just passing by the time! As they are long-lasting treats, they can also be great when re-training chew-happy pups.
Risk of Choking:
Your dog probably loves getting their teeth (literally) into something good and chew-worthy, like a bit of hide. But beware of choking. A frequent mistake made when pet owners provide their fur babies with a piece of hide is the size. Ensure that the hide is not too small as an over-zealous pooch could quite easily get this stuck. When in doubt, go large – your pooch will thank you! If you are giving hide to your puppy, make sure that it is bigger than the size of their mouth. You should also consider the strength of your dog’s jaw. If the hide is not sufficient for a strong jaw, there is the risk of breakage which will undo your previous good intentions with size!
Additionally, no matter how healthy the hide, it is very important to supervise them. Take the hide away if you are going to be out of the room/house. When the hide gets too small, throw it away and invest in a new bit.
Both of these actions will help you to significantly reduce the risk of choking, and to be present for a quick reaction if needed.
You may also wish to separate your dogs with their treats, so that they can relax while chewing and reduce the risk of “wolfing it down”.
Now, some of us may think that hide is naturally that wonderful yellow-y white colour… Well, it’s not. A lot of hide has been bleached in the curing process, giving it a more attractive hue. We wouldn’t eat bleach, so don’t let your dog eat it either.
During this process, other chemicals may also be added. Ensure that you always check the packaging to make sure that the hide does not contain additives. If there is no packaging available, buy from a known source. Scampers recommend Bravo Premium Hide as it is 100% natural and not tainted by harmful chemicals or preservatives.
So, where should you get your hide from? Choose providers that are able to certify the natural content of their hide. The packaging/sales material should be transparent and honest. Do not buy from unknown online sources as you may not receive the product that you expected. Be extra careful with doggy Christmas stockings, which often use rawhide to bulk out the packaging. Make sure that the hide included is from a reputable source, or take it out once your dog receives their special gift from Santa Paws!
Your vet will be able to tell you how much/little raw hide your dog can have based upon their size, but as with all toys and treats, monitor your dog carefully and report any changes in behaviour or unusual symptoms to your veterinary practitioner.
So, if Santa Paws is bring raw hide this year… don’t panic! Hide isn’t always bad and can be a great Christmas treat for your dog (especially if you just want a little peace while watching the Christmas Edition of Strictly…). Just make sure that you choose wisely and always supervise your pet. Happy chewing!
Note: Material from Scampers of Soham and PetMD, Photos credit to Walkerville Vet of Australia, Bravo Premium Rawhide, and Pinterest.