With so many options available when it comes to chew toys and treats, how do you choose the right one for your furry friend? One of the more popular and cost friendly options are rawhides. But what exactly are they? Why do dogs like rawhides so much? And most importantly, are they safe for you pup? Those are all good questions when trying to decide on the best chew treat amid all the overwhelming options. Even within the more specific category of "rawhides" there are still various kinds to choose from. With the right information you will be able to better determine if rawhides are the right choice for your fur baby.
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The Root of the Behavior
Even if the furry companion you have right now is your first dog, you know how much a savory, meaty treat sets their tails wagging. Rawhides are no exception. Since rawhides are exactly what their name implies, the hide or skin from an animal which has not been tanned (raw), it is no surprise dogs love them. Regardless of the smell factor, most experts feel that it is the chewing aspect of rawhides that have your pooch wanting more. Chewing is a natural behavior in dogs for a variety of reasons. When they are still puppies they use chewing as a means to explore their environment and also when teething.
As dogs get older, chewing is still part of their typical behavior. Whether it stems from a scavenging instinct or to clean their teeth, dogs need something to chew. With rawhides, they get a dry, firm chew in the beginning. Then as they chew, and more saliva comes into the mix, the rawhide becomes softer and swells. And when the rawhide softens, your dog can get his or her teeth down into the hide easier, aiding in cleaning those chompers. Just be sure to watch them closely when the rawhide starts to get smaller, and take it away when if it is small enough for them to swallow it whole. There are those who believe that dogs love rawhides simply because they can provide hours of distraction and entertainment. And since some chewing by dogs is simply an act of boredom, having a rawhide to keep them entertained may be a good option. In the case of rawhides being a distraction, the benefit is quite obvious. The rawhides can serve as an alternative to your pup chewing up those expensive new shoes. That alone is worth considering rawhide chews for your dog!
Encouraging the Behavior
There are additional benefits to giving your pup rawhides to chew on from time to time. Chewing helps to keep a dog's jaws strong, can help to relieve stress or anxiety, and can also provide stimulation. Giving your dog a rawhide in his or her "safe space" can help to relax away from other pets or family members. When isolated with their treat most dogs are more likely to take their time, so there is less chance of them trying to swallow larger bites. Isolating them while they have their rawhide chews is also an excellent idea for dogs who are more territorial with food and toys. Rawhides are also considered a better chew option to give to your dog than some toys. Since there are so many toys that resemble household items, it is easy for dogs to confuse their squeaky toy shoe for your actual slippers. With rawhides, there should be much less chance of confusing their chew with anything else in the house. Using rawhides as a training tool can be a useful option for your pooch as well. When you notice Rover eyeing something he or she isn't supposed to touch, direct them to their rawhide chew instead. Once they are more interested in the rawhide than the forbidden item, praise them to reinforce that it was a job well done.
Other Solutions and Considerations
While rawhides are an inexpensive and tasty option for your dog, there are some concerns to be aware of as well. As already mentioned, rawhides can pose a choking hazard for dogs. Chunks of rawhides that break off, or are bitten off, can become lodged in your pup's throat. Be mindful of the decreasing size of the rawhide as your dog chews on it. Even if these pieces make it through your baby's throat, they can still cause problems. Once the piece makes it into the their stomach, they continue to expand. This puts your dog in danger of developing a gastrointestinal blockage. It has even been reported that rawhide pieces have wrapped around a dog's intestines, causing more obstruction. As with any chew or food, where the item was manufactured and what ingredients it contains is a major concern. Some rawhides produced outside the United States have been found to contain toxic chemicals. As is always a good idea, check the labels of any treat or toy you are thinking of buying for your pet.
If you still have concerns about rawhides, talk to your veterinarian. He or she should be able to help you determine what is safest for your fur baby. Once you do decide, grab a few treats and let your pooch chow down (in moderation) on something other than the corner of your new sofa!