Are Rawhide Chews Safe for Golden Retrievers?

Rawhide chews can be safe for Golden Retrievers, but it depends on what kind of rawhide it is, how it’s been made, and where it’s come from.

Rawhide chews are a popular, affordable choice for most Golden Retriever owners. You can buy them in most pet shops, and use them to help your dog practice good dental hygiene. But there are several risks associated with giving your pet rawhide chews.

It can poison your pet depending on what chemicals have been used, it can be a choking hazard, and it can cause internal blockages.

It’s up to you if you want to give your Golden Retriever rawhide chews. If you’re concerned about the risks, there are plenty of safer alternatives. 

Read on to find out more!

What Is Rawhide?

Rawhide is made from the skin of an animal and is a byproduct of the leather industry. This is often cow – but can sometimes be other cattle like pigs, sheep, and horses.

The skin is made up of multiple layers that have to be separated. The outer layer is used to make leather products such as shoes and bags. While the inner layers are used for things like treats, soaps, and glues.

The processes that the chew goes through from leaving the animal until it arrives at the pet shop include:

  1. A chemical bath when it’s first removed from the animal.
  2. Being treated with sodium sulphide lime to strip away hair and fatty layers.
  3. Chemical treatments to take away any smells and bleach it (which makes it more appealing to consumers).
  4. Coated with artificial colourings and flavourings (using more chemicals). 

What Are Some Dangers of Rawhide Chews?

There are a bunch of risks associated with giving rawhide chews to Golden Retrievers. In some cases, a seemingly harmless chew can go wrong and end up in an emergency trip to the vet.

These are some of the reported dangers of rawhide chews:

Potential Poisoning

This can be caused over a long period of time due to overexposure to the chemicals used to treat the rawhide. 

If you’re happy to give these treats to your dog, you should make sure that you know where the product is sourced from. Try to find rawhide treats which are processed in a country with reliable goods sourcing and that has high food processing standards.

It Could Be a Choking Hazard

The rawhide chews are usually quite tough but if your dog is a heavy chewer and breaks off larger chunks, they run the risk of swallowing large pieces. These pieces can get lodged in their esophagus, choking them.

This is one of the reasons why you should always supervise your dog when they’re around rawhide treats. Even a couple of minutes unattended is too long if they have access to one of these treats, as it could take just moments for your dog to choke and die. 

It’s also critical that you choose an appropriately sized chew for the size of your dog. Don’t give a puppy-sized treat to a golden retriever – if the chew is too small for them they may try to swallow it whole!

Blockages in the Digestive Tract 

If your Golden Retriever breaks up the chew and swallows a large piece, they might not choke on it, but it could lodge further along in their digestive system. This can cause serious blockages and be fatal if left untreated.

Always remove the chew once your dog has broken it down into smaller pieces.

Signs of a blocked bowel should be treated as soon as possible, these are:

  • Persistent vomiting.
  • Weakness.
  • Collapsing.
  • Lack of energy.

For more information about this, head over to this page. 

Dental Issues

Dental chews are usually beneficial for a dog’s teeth and hygiene. However, if they have a rawhide chew of poor quality, it can cause serious damage.

Thinner and drier rawhide could break your Golden Retriever’s teeth when they’re chewing on it. This will be painful and could require treatment from the vets which will be costly and uncomfortable for your pet.

The best way to avoid these issues is to check the quality of the chews before giving them to your Golden. You should regularly check their mouth to make sure there aren’t any issues – finding a problem means faster treatment.

Weight Gain

Rawhide does contain calories, so if your Golden Retriever is regularly eating them alongside their regular diet and perhaps other treats, they could gain weight.

Make sure that you account for extra calories in your dog’s diet. They also need to stay active with at least 1-2 hours of exercise per day, in addition, to playtime.

What Are the Benefits of Rawhide Chews?

Rawhide chews have been used and loved for a long time by dog owners – and there are reasons why. One big reason is that it satisfies their natural urge to chew, saving your slippers and shoes from destruction.

There are the other benefits that Golden Retrievers can get from rawhide chews:

  • It can be used to clean the dog’s teeth.
  • It’s helpful to get rid of bad breath.
  • It’ll keep them occupied for hours.
  • It’s cheap and readily available.
  • It can relieve toothache in puppies.

Though these benefits will be helpful for Golden Retrievers, most chew toys have the same benefits and might be safer for your pet without being made from rawhide.

How to Choose a Good Rawhide Chew for Your Golden Retriever

There are many different types of rawhide, made by different manufacturers. Ideally, you’ll be able to find one that’s high quality and doesn’t have any chemicals in it.

Tips for choosing a good rawhide chew:

  • Carefully check the ingredients list.
  • Check the packaging and label for any warnings.
  • Look for the expiration date and manufacturing date.
  • Familiarise yourself with instructions for use and any instructions.
  • Try to use a reputable brand or company.

If you can find a safe, reputable brand, you should be able to purchase rawhide treats that have minimal risk for your Golden Retriever.

Alternatives to Rawhide for Golden Retrievers

If your Golden Retriever is a heavy chewer, you can look at these alternatives for something to chew:

  • Raw or cooked vegetables: Raw vegetables such as carrots, green beans, or broccoli are great examples of tough snacks for your dog. Check out the PDSA website for other fruits and veggies your dog can have.
  • Chew toys: You can get chew toys from any pet shop – just make sure that you choose them based on your dog’s size and mouthiness.
  • Dental chews: Dental chews are available from most pet shops. But again, check where these have been sourced from.
  • Nylabones: These are great for hard chewers but ensure you watch your dog while they are playing with these to ensure they don’t swallow them whole.
  • Puzzle feeders: Puzzle toys and feeders are great at keeping your dog entertained and will satisfy their chewing needs.

Is Rawhide Worth the Risk?

There are both pros and cons to giving your Golden Retriever a rawhide chew. Now you’ve read them all, it’s your choice as the owner of your pet to decide whether you want to give them rawhide.

I personally avoid giving rawhide products to my Golden Retriever. However, you should decide for yourself – there are plenty of Golden Retriever owners that occasionally give them a special rawhide treat. 

Closing Thoughts

Dogs like to chew – there are no two ways about it! It’s in their DNA. If they don’t have specific chew sticks or toys, they’re going to take matters into their own hands and chew on furniture.

The best thing you can do is ensure you find safe outlets for this behaviour. Do your research on the types of chews you get for your dogs and decide what is best for your situation.

Leave a comment