This is a very pressing question and the immediate answer to the safety of rawhide chews and your dog seems to be a matter of opinion coupled with the facts. There are a few factors to consider so let's take a look at the pros and cons.
The benefits of rawhide chews and your dog are multifaceted. Dogs instinctively chew, especially teething puppies. The action for chewing in all dogs provides a level of stimulation, it calms them, especially in dogs that have anxiety issues. Chewing is also a dog's way of keeping strong jaw muscles and healthy teeth. Regular chewing keeps teeth clean, plaque-free and reduces tartar build-up. For these reasons, it's easy to see why rawhide chews and your dog seem to be a good fit, but let's look at a few more facts before you make up your mind.
The next factor in determining if rawhide chews and your dog could be a good choice comes down to the manufacturing of the rawhide. Rawhide chews can be made in multiple ways so knowing your chew makes all the difference in the world. Most rawhide chews are made from leather scraps leftover from leather manufacturers. The scraps are taken from the slaughterhouses and placed into high-salt brines to preserve the skin from decaying. While in transit to the rawhide manufacturing companies the hides stay in the brine. Once they get to the tannery, usually located in China, the hides are treated with lime to separate the fat from the skin. The hair is removed using another chemical process. There is an abundance of information on the process that goes into making rawhide chews online. Should you decide rawhide chews and your dog are a good fit it is highly suggested that you find a reputable company that considers their process and the health of your dog. Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the manufacturing of rawhide chews so pick your bones wisely.
The next factor to consider is your dog breed or characteristics of your dog. Some breeds are big chew and gulpers. Dr Marty Becker DVM labels Labrador Retrievers and Pit Bulls as two breeds that tend to have choking issues because of their intense chew and gulp characteristics. Big chew and gulpers are not always breeding specific, you may have a mixed breed that shares these same behavioural issues. Anytime a dog bites and swallows with little hesitation puts him at a greater choking hazard than most other dogs. Rawhide chews can come apart and be swallowed in large indigestible pieces, not only creating choking hazards but obstructing the digestive tract and creating health issues such as bowel blockage. Rawhide chews and your dog may not be a good combination if big bites and swallowing without hesitation is part of his or her behaviour characteristics.
Some other issues to consider when it comes to rawhide chews and your dog revolve around contamination concerns. Earlier in the article, we touched on the process that goes into making the rawhide chews being harmful to your dog. Dr Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS states that there have been six recalls by the Food and Drug Administration due to salmonella in the rawhide chews between 2008 and 2011. Let's not forget the nature of the breeding ground for salmonella. Perhaps you purchased a perfectly good rawhide chew, the longer the saliva soaked chew sits around the house, the more likely that chew is going to become infected with salmonella on its own. Now not only is your dog at risk but so are humans, children especially.
So, are rawhide chews safe or Dangerous for your dog? It seems the risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to stimulating chewing behaviours that are inherent in your dog. Perhaps your dog is not at risk of a choking hazard because he is a moderate chewer, and perhaps you purchase your rawhide chews from a reputable manufacturer, the rawhide chews can still develop salmonella, which is harmful to the entire family. Now that you have the facts it's up to you to decide if rawhide chews and your dog are a good option.