Dear Daisy Dog
My veterinarian recommends that I refrain from giving my dogs rawhide chews because, he said, they can cause intestinal obstructions and toxic reactions. I understand the first concern, but how can rawhide be toxic if it’s made from cattle hide?
Rawhide chews can be toxic in two ways: chemical and biological.
Years ago, some imported rawhides were contaminated with arsenic. So if you’re going to purchase rawhide chews, it’s best to buy those manufactured in the United States.
But even American-made rawhides can pose problems. Recently, some were recalled because they were contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
Not only can Salmonella sicken us dogs, but people who handle the rawhides can become infected.
In both dogs and humans, Salmonella can cause lethargy, abdominal pain, diarrhea which is sometimes bloody, vomiting and fever.
Especially vulnerable are young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems, who can develop life-threatening disease.
To minimize the risks, my mom lets us have rawhide chews only on special occasions. After she handles them, she washes her hands.
If you choose to give your dogs rawhides or other chews made of animal protein – for example, cows’ hooves or pigs’ ears – protect yourself by washing your hands and any surfaces exposed to the products.