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Healthy Dogs

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Rawhide: Good or Bad for Your Dog?


4. How can I make rawhide chews safer for my dog?

If you decide to offer your dog rawhide, you can take certain precautions to make them safer. To minimize your risk of exposure to contaminants, wash your hands thoroughly after handling these treats. Have young children and family members with immune system problems avoid handling them at all.

To protect your dog:

  • Ask your vet about how much is safe to give your dog. The general rule is the smaller the dog, the fewer the chews. Especially at first, give one at a time. Then wait a day to see how your dog’s intestinal system responds.
  • Separate your dog from other pets so he or she can relax while chewing. This way, your dog will be less likely to gulp large pieces whole. Doing this might be especially important if you have a dog that is very territorial around food.
  • Offer different types of rawhide, but only when you can supervise and see how your dog is handling the treat. Is she swallowing big bites? Is he starting to gag or choke? If so, take the treat away and check with your vet about other types of rawhide or other types of chew treats or toys.
  • Take the rawhide chew away from your dog once it is small enough to swallow whole. If it is hard to get your dog to give up the rawhide chew, try asking him to sit and then offer another type of treat.

Watch for signs of bacterial contamination, gastric irritation, or a blockage. Contact your veterinarian if your dog has signs such as:

  • Gagging
  • Regurgitation
  • Repeated swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, with or without blood
  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Signs of pain
  • Refusal to eat or weight loss

5. Should certain dogs avoid rawhide treats?

Does your dog have a history of diarrhea or other digestive troubles after chewing on rawhide treats? Or does your dog tend to swallow big chunks of rawhide, putting him or her at risk for a blockage? If so, try alternatives for keeping teeth clean and satisfying your dog’s urge to chew.

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