Geelong dog owners planning on treating their dogs for Christmas could be inadvertantly putting their pets’ lives at risk.
Animal health experts say rawhide treats are still being sold in supermarkets and even pet stores, even though it’s well known they can be dangerous or life-threatening to our furry friends.
Rawhides are marketed as long-lasting chew treats that are fun for dogs and useful in helping to keep their teeth clean.
But they can also be deadly if chunks break off and are swallowed, creating a choking hazard or a potential intestinal blockage.
Dr James Tiernan, from Vets of Geelong, said some dogs are at more risk than others.
“Certain breeds, the ‘squashed up’ breeds and those with shorter noses, they tend to have a smaller airway in the back of their throats, for instance, so if they have a rawhide chew stuck in the back of their throat it can definitely be life-threatening,” he said.
“There are definitely a lot safer dental chews (available) which don’t lodge in the back of the throat, which they still get the benefit for their teeth, without causing those risks and others such as food poisoning from contaminated rawhide chews.”
Rawhide is made from animal skins that are taken directly from the floors of slaughterhouses and marinated in high-salt brine to slow their decay.
They are then soaked and treated with lime to separate the fat from the skin, with chemicals then used to remove hair.
However brine does not completely prevent decay, and manufacturers use bleaches such as hydrogen peroxide to whiten them and remove the smell of decaying, rotten leather.
Testing on rawhide treats has revealed traces of arsenic, mercury and other toxic metals, which are attributed to chemical preservatives used in the manufacturing process.
Most rawhide dog treats are made in China.
Pet parents are advised to check the ingredients of dog treats to check if they contain rawhide.
Dog Christmas stockings frequently contain rawhide snacks, often disguised as human food using food dyes and other products.