Rawhide is a popular chewing dog snack made from the inner skin of cowhides. The material is processed, sometimes even flavored, and rolled into different sizes and shapes. Chewing is a natural instinct of dogs and provides numerous benefits, including helping pups self-soothe and entertain themselves. Rawhide can be beneficial to overall canine dental health, provided consumption is appropriately monitored.
Chewing on rawhide can help to reduce plaque buildup on a dog’s teeth. While pet owners still should brush their dogs’ teeth with a canine-formulated toothpaste, rawhide can help aid in good dental hygiene, cutting down on gum disease, such as gingivitis. Regular rawhide chewing also can help keep a dog’s breath fresh, and serve as a deterrent against chewing on shoes and furniture.
Chewing on rawhide can help soothe the pain and irritation that comes with canine teething. Young puppies often chew on rawhide to help erupting teeth break the surface of their gums. Adolescent dogs also use rawhide to help ease the pain of chewing when baby teeth fall out and adult teeth start to come in. Dogs of all ages can calm themselves in times of stress through chewing.
Because of its hard composition, rawhide has the potential to break or fracture a dog’s teeth. Rawhide often softens as a dog chews it, which can reduce the potential for this problem, but care must be taken to watch the dog for signs of tooth damage. Left untreated, broken teeth can lead to infection. Take your pup to a vet or a canine dental care specialist if you suspect damage. Watch for loose teeth, visibly broken or missing teeth, or red, swollen gums.
Rawhide and Diet
While rawhide can be good for a dog’s dental health, it can lead to an upset stomach if too much of the material is ingested. Dogs tends to tear off small pieces of rawhide as they chew on it and eat it, which should not be problematic unless consumed in large quantities. If your dog develops diarrhea after eating a lot of rawhide, cut back to see if the condition improves.
Don't allow a dog to chew on pieces of rawhide that are small enough to be swallowed, and remove chews once they are worked down to small chunks to avoid accidental throat obstruction. If you have multiple dogs in your household, give them rawhide treats simultaneously, making sure each dog has one. Otherwise, your dogs may fight for the treats through fast chewing and gobbling, which can create a choking hazard.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.