How rawhide chews are made



How can one of the most popular chew sticks on the planet be so dangerous for your pets, you ask? I mean, most dogs chew on rawhide for hours on end, and not only does it keep them busy, but they seem to last forever.

Well if you understood what it took to make this toxic “raw” leather stick, you would quickly understand what the problem is.

Aside from the horror stories circulating all over social media these days, of pets needing emergency surgery after consuming rawhide, the majority of pet parents today, especially the newbies, believe that this chew is some sort of dried up meat stick. Let me debunk that myth right away!

A rawhide stick is not the by-product of the beef industry nor is it made of dehydrated meat. Rather, rawhide is the by-product of the “Leather Industry”, so theoretically it is a leather chew. Sounds awesome, right?

“Producing rawhide begins with the splitting of an animal hide, usually from cattle. The top grain is generally tanned and made into leather products, while the inner portion, in its “raw” state, goes to the dogs.”

So, how does this leather, which is conveniently rolled up into pretty shapes, actually get made into those rawhide chews?

Follow along my friends and I will enlighten you on how this hide travels through a leathery process where it transforms from hide to a not-so beautiful, colorful, chew stick. Here is a paraphrased tutorial that was explained by the whole dog journal several years back:

STEP 1: Normally, cattle hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. These hides are then treated with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport to help prevent spoilage.

(No one wants to purchase a black, spoiled rawhide stick!)

Once at the tannery: the hides are soaked and treated with either an ash-lye solution or a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulphide liming. This process will help strip the hair and fat that maybe attached to the hides themselves.

(No, no one wants to see a hairy hide…)

Next on this glorious journey, these hides are then treated with chemicals that help “puff” the hide, making it easier to split into layers.

The outer layer of the hide is used for goods like car seats, clothing, shoes, purses, etc. But, it’s the inner layer that is needed to make the rawhide. (Oh and other things like gelatin, cosmetics, and glue as well!)

STEP 2: Now that we have the inner layer of the hide, it’s time to go to the post-tannery stage! Hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach; this will also help remove the smell of the rotten or putrid leather. Bonus!
(Research also shows that other chemicals maybe used here to help the whitening process if the bleach isn’t strong enough.)

STEP 3: Now it’s time to make these whitened sheets of this “leathery by-product” look delicious! So, here is where the artistic painting process comes in.

“Basted, smoked, and decoratively tinted products might be any color (or odor) underneath the coating of (often artificial) dyes and flavors. They can even be painted with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and pretty on the pet store shelves.” –

“…the Material Safety Data Sheet reveals a toxic confection containing the carcinogen FD&C Red 40, along with preservatives like sodium benzoate. But tracking the effects of chemical exposure is nearly impossible when it’s a matter of slow, low-dose poisoning.”–

Ok, now that these hides have been painted, it’s time for the final process.

STEP 4: Getting it to last forever!

Because the FDA does not consider these chews to be food, really it’s a free for all when it comes to the manufacturers of these leather strips, and the products they may want to add to these chews, to get them to last forever. Any sort of glue can be added here to get these bad boys to never come apart.

When tested: Lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals have been detected in raw hides. So it’s safe to say that any sort of glues can be used as well!

Finally, it’s time to package and attach all the glorious marketing labels to the product.

Check out the fine print warning that’s attached with some of these rawhides:
“Choking or blockages. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.“

(Oh, how lovely…)

And there it is! It’s now ready to be shipped to store shelves where it can be purchased for our loving animal companions.

How do proactive veterinarians feel about these chews?

Here is world-renowned veterinarian Doctor Karen Becker’s take on the matter:

“The name ‘rawhide’ is technically incorrect. A more accurate name would be processed-hide, because the skin isn’t raw at all. But the term “rawhide” has stuck.

Rawhide chews start out hard, but as your dog works the chew it becomes softer, and eventually he can unknot the knots on each end and the chew takes on the consistency of a slimy piece of taffy or bubble gum. And by that time your dog cannot stop working it — it becomes almost addictive.

At this point, there’s no longer any dental benefit to the chew because it has turned soft and gooey, and, in fact, it has become a choking and intestinal obstruction hazard.“

P.S. Ready for the jaw dropper?

An investigation by Humane Society International stated in their report, “In a particularly grisly twist, the skins of brutally slaughtered dogs in Thailand are mixed with other bits of skin to produce rawhide chew toys for pet dogs. Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in U.S. stores.” –

Written by Planet Paws

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Dog first aid kit when you go for walks – what should you carry

What would you do if you’re taking your dog for a walk in the countryside, and he suddenly hurts himself and begins limping, would you know how to treat him? You would never go camping or hiking yourself, without a first aid kit, as you never know when something unforeseen could happen and you need emergency first aid. The same accident may happen to your furry friend, so always be prepared for an emergency situation by carrying a basic first aid kit for dogs with you on any walk. These supplies may help to comfort your dog until expert help arrives, and in some circumstances, may even save your dog’s life.


Probable common dog injuries

Below are several types of common injuries that your pet may sustain while out walking. It’s impossible to predict what type of injury will result, some may even need to be seen by a Vet as soon as possible.

  • Sprained knee and wrist joints
  • Swallowing foreign objects
  • Being hit by a motor vehicle
  • A bite from another dog
  • Contact with toxic and poisonous substances
  • Broken or torn claw nails
  • Dehydration or heat stroke
  • Injuries to the eyes


There are many medical items that you would normally have in a full first aid kits that you would use in your house or vehicle, but when out walking, obviously there are weight limits to what you are able to carry.

Portable First Aid Kit Contents

  • Water – this is very useful for cleaning and treating minor wounds. It’s also useful for cooling an overheated dog, soaking a paw or rehydrating a pet.
  • Gloves – An essential item for the kit, when dealing with either canine or human incidences
  • Tweezers – perfect for removing splinters from paws and pads or to remove ticks
  • Scissors – useful for cutting fur, splints, bandages and tape
  • Antiseptic wipes – handy for cleaning your hands after giving treatment, not for using on the dog wounds
  • Bandages and tape – it’s always a good plan to have a couple of bandages for any wound eventuality, until you can get your dog some medical treatment
  • Piriton – immediate treatment for any bee and wasp stings
  • Manuka Honey – a natural remedy which can be applied to any type of infection or wound, burns or cuts to give instant relief.
  • Pet Remedy – This is  a great spray for helping to calm your dog down
  • foil blanket – to help keep your doggy warm
  • Plasters – these are for the clumsy human

Of course we wouldn’t consider going anywhere without our mobile phone and credit card, you never know when you might need them, and so make sure your kit has these 2 essential items on the list! When walking with dogs, it’s always advisable to carry a list of contact telephone numbers, for the emergency services, the local vet, and if walking dogs for customers as I do, I always carry the client’s contact numbers in the event of any crisis.


Your essential first aid kit can always to be used in the first instant to give emergency help to your dog, but always consider that there may be an urgent need to take your pet to the Vet to be checked out as soon as possible. Each year, hundreds of dogs in the UK are involved in medical emergencies; they swallow poisonous substances, suffer from heatstroke, or are involved in road accidents. Knowing what to do in such an emergency may save your dog’s life.


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Dogs and water – The do’s and don’ts

Summer is a great time to get wet and your dog will no doubt love the opportunity too, but there are certain dos and dont’s when it comes to keeping your dog safe around water.

Here’s a heads up on the dos and dont’s you should be thinking about this summer when it comes to your dog and water.




Keep a fresh water supply – First and foremost, you need to give your dog careful consideration when it comes to keeping him hydrated during the warmer weather. Make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times.

Be aware of the type of water your dog is swimming in – Lakes, rivers, pools and the sea can contain stagnant, polluted or treated water that if ingested by your dog can make them ill, so be mindful of the type of water your dog is playing in. A summer hazard which can make your dog very seriously ill is Blue Green Algae tends to flourish slightly later on in the Season – but it will affect many ponds.

Clean your dog after a swim – Regardless the type of water your dog is playing in, its good practice to rinse your dog down with clean water after a swim and give them a dry off, paying close attention to the ears to reduce the chances of ear infections.

Keep an eye on your dog’s stamina – Your four-legged friend will inevitably be eager to play regardless of how tired he feels. But in and around water you should watch their stamina levels, particularly with older dogs, and give them plenty of time to rest between playing.


Force your dog into the water – While some dogs thrive in water and love nothing more than thrashing around in it, not all do and despite your best encouragement they may never like water. You should never force your dog to go in the water and also never assume that they can swim.

Leave your dog unattended near water – Under no circumstances should you let your dog out of your sight when you’re near water. This is particularly pertinent, if they’re swimming in the water, as they can easily tire or get into difficulties.

Ignore warning signs – In most areas with water, such as beaches and swimming lakes there will be warning notices in place to alert you of strong currents and tides, crumbling river banks, extreme weather warnings or other danger areas. Always look out for these signs before you let your dog loose in the water.

Ultimately keeping your dog safe around water is about being sensible, responsible and aware. If you know there’s a strong current, deep water or sliding river banks, keep your dog on a lead to stop them from going in. They can still have plenty of fun out of the water and enjoy it another time when it’s safe.

Finchley Dog Walker

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Joanna & Milton go to France (do check your passport)

Thank you to Joanna for sharing her experience of their first holiday abroad with Milton her 1 year old Cockapoo. Words of wisdom – check and double check!
“We sorted out the rabies vaccination and passport, as well as booking an appointment with a French vet, well in advance of travelling.  Not having travelled with a pet before, obviously I wanted to made sure I did it right with time to spare.  Yet I may as well have arrived at the Euroshuttle for check in back to the UK without a passport for the dog or any of the info in it at all.  Perhaps even a sign around Milton’s neck saying Lock Me Up!  Everything documented in the passport (that Milton was inoculated against rabies, he had had the tapeworm treatment, he was fit to travel) was invalid because the number written in the passport was wrong (the final digit had was recorded as a 0 instead of the correct 9).
The French vet had kindly/nonchalantly pointed this typo error to me after Milton had eaten the tapeworm tablets two days before and he had scanned his microchip.  We thanked him, and started Googling Worst Case Scenarios…  Pretty soon we realised that we were headed for Worst Case Scenario # 2: Dog in Quarantine / Mum in Debt / Everyone Having Separation Sickness for X Weeks/Months.
(Another potentially disastrous misadventure worth noting: We had originally booked the vet appointment for Wednesday – smack bang in the middle of the under five days/over 24 hrs before travel ‘window’ for the tapeworm treatment to allow for car breaking down/missing train/borders being closed post-Brexit.  However, Milton was left alone in the presence of two pain au chocolats for about three minutes, resulting in actually visiting the vet on Tuesday.  Vet said Milton’s stomach would be too full of butter to absorb the tapeworm treatment until Thursday so come back then.  Had we left the treatment to say, Thursday, in the first place-  too close to the 24 hour before travel cutoff – and Milton had been ill or unable to eat the tablets, this could have meant delaying departure by another day and paying for a new Shuttle booking etc.)
Back to Passport Dilemna.  Having spoken to London Vet and patient French Vet, and felt nauseous for a few hours, Monsieur Milton had a new (French!) passport, we felt better and headed out swimming.
But the nausea returned after the last rest stop before Calais as I recalled the horror stories I had read on the internet the day before.  I kept looking at the new passport thinking what might be wrong with it, and decided it really was okay.  Bubble soon burst at check in when the girl handed it back after a half second of inspection, pointing at the passport’s Issue Date, saying it should be earlier than this one here (which one?!  I still don’t know as I was too horrified to notice, presumably rabies?).  The old UK passport was lying on the desk just in case we might need to explain ourselves, and she picked it up and asked why we shouldn’t use this one?  Boyfriend and I stared blankly back so as not to have to explain ourselves, while she checks it over, we scan Milton, and hand the scanner back over.  Obviously she doesn’t notice the stupid 0 that’s wrong in the passport and off we trot, sick with relief, Milton oblivious.
If French vet had never noticed the wrong number, it probably would have gone exactly the same as it did – quick and easy check in with no one noticing the incorrect number and journey home!  But we no doubt would have traveled on the same passport again, unknowingly headed for eventual disaster…
How did this happen?!  When our vet first met Milton, he scanned his chip and entered the number into his database – incorrectly.  When he made the Pet Passport, he used that incorrect number from the database.  He gave me the passport and I never checked it against my (correct) record at home.  My boyfriend and the crazy dog lady we met on the ferry across the Gironde on our way home both railed passionately against my vet.  I don’t feel the same way.  But both me and the vet were in the wrong – boiling it down, I could have caught the mistake IF I’D CHECKED with plenty of time to have gotten a new passport, solving the whole problem.  If only I’d checked.  I’m responsible for Milton, and Milton would have been the one with the short straw.
Morale of the story: double-check the microchip number in the passport is right.  And triple-check you actually know your pet’s correct microchip number – this whole scenario would have been even worse if Milton had gotten lost or stolen and I had reported him with the wrong number (I dread to think).
Interesting fact: French passports are very cheap, 10 Euros, merci beaucoup.
Karma/Milton clearly wanted to teach us a lesson for our stupidity and carelessness in matters relating to his safe transport: we park in the shuttle train, Milton gets his foot trapped between car and door as he jumps down to pavement, cries and panics that (presumably?) he has been captured and death is imminent, and as we free him he empties the contents of his anal gland sacs on us, just as the train pulls off for a forty minutes stuck in car.  I know we deserved it.  Poor Milton.
I’m sure Milton will do abroad again, but perhaps our next holiday will be closer to home, just so we don’t have to face the Passport issue quite yet.  What still makes me apprehensive is that beyond the obvious to check – micrcochip number, date of rabies vaccine and tapeworm treatment – there are clearly other things that could be wrong in a passport which I just wouldn’t notice or know to check.
But aside from the pain au chocolat, the anal glands, and the passport..the rest of holiday was excellent!
Oh actually there was one final Milton escapade at the start of holiday, the day we arrived.  Milton stepped in the same huge gloop of chewing gum TWICE, so two paws were caked in hard gum.  Did you know that peanut butter ‘melts’ chewing gum?  Milton thought Christmas had come early, it really did work well, i would recommend… But of course the French don’t ever eat peanut butter so we (in the middle of nowhere) drove to three shops and about an hour before we could even find any…
I think Milton saved up all his disasters for holiday.  Seriously life back in London is never this dramatic/dangerous.”
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June 24th – Bring Your Dog To Work Day

The third annual Bring Your Dog to Work Day (BYDTW) falls on Friday June 24th this year. The UK version of this was organised by dog grooming company Hownd as a way of raising funds for charities which aim to help dogs in need, especially those in kennels and dog shelters. This year’s charity is All Dogs Matter, which re-homes hundreds of dogs in the London and Norfolk areas


In the short time that BYDTW day has been in existence it has taken off like a rocket. In 2015 it was trending at number 1 on twitter and celebrities including Ricky Gervais and the Loose Women team showed their support. It was helped enormously too by publicity from the national press.

So this year, once again, businesses all across the country will be offering a warm and enthusiastic welcome to pooches of all shapes, sizes and breeds – and non-breeds – to do their bit in raising money for All Dogs Matter.

From as little as £2, businesses and individuals can donate online or by text – see the All Dogs Matter or the BYDTW website for details.

The Benefits of Bringing Your Dog to Work

A good many studies have proved that the presence of dogs can help to improve health and well-being in people. Just stroking a dog or having a friendly dog sit by you can lower your stress levels and promote relaxation and happiness. It’s well known that Pets As Therapy dogs do a great deal of good in hospitals and nursing homes and can, in some cases help to alleviate the ravages of dementia by helping to remind patients of animals they may have shared their lives with.

In the work place environment being in close proximity to a dog can help to raise morale and improve team-building and cooperation by facilitating – even if only for a day! – the building of bridges between employees and managers.

Good For the Dogs Too

By taking your dog to work you’ll be helping to further his socialisation skills as well as giving him something new to do. After all, we all love to see new places and meet new people and dogs are no different. It’s a great way to burnish the dog’s image and allow people, especially those who may not normally interact with dogs, to see them in a positive light.

Remember though that your dog must be of the well-behaved variety- as bringing a badly behaved dog to work may well cause more problems than benefits.

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Pet theft awareness week – Are you Pet Theft Aware?

The theft of a pet is becoming increasing common and with incidents on the rise the best thing to do is arm yourself with the information needed to prevent this from happening to your beloved companion. Being more knowledgeable on the subject not only protects your own pet but by sharing this awareness also educates others, protecting more animals and discouraging thieves. This is why pet theft awareness week was created – to help share information with the aim to help pet owners become more informed of the issues surrounding the security of their pets.

The history of pet theft awareness week
Pet theft awareness week was set up by Arnot Wilson and Richard Jorden after social media was used on a large scale to help locate a missing dog. With no information provided by government or local authorities pet awareness week steps into provide information to pet owners regarding the safety of their animals. Working together with different organisations such as Viovet, The Dog Union, Vets Get Scanning and, they are a non-profit organisation and a member of the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance.

A wealth of resources aimed at keeping your pet safe
Pet awareness week takes place this week, and Gundog theft Awareness week takes place in October and has four main aims. Firstly the prevention of pet theft through awareness, this includes the use of social media, posters, case studies and downloadable resources to be displayed in settings with animals such as vets and riding stables. These resources are used to inform people on the dangers of thieves and ways to take care of their animals and the environment in which they live. It includes things to look out for and ways to prevent becoming a target and a victim of crime.

Pet awareness week also offers information to assist the victims of pet crime. They provide instructions on what to do if your animal is stolen, including who to inform, how to arrange searches and who to include. If offers guidance for using social media in the event of a theft and useful websites. It also campaigns for the reclassification of pet theft. The founders of pet theft awareness week want the law to recognise pets as ‘valued living possession’ and to enforce stricter laws surrounding thieves with custodial sentences to discourage thefts from taking place.

Pet awareness week not only wants to educate animal owners but reunite families with missing pets by campaigning to increase microchip scanning by making it compulsory and by participating in pet theft awareness week you’re not only arming yourself with the information needed to reduce pet theft but decreasing the risk in becoming targeted yourself. By sharing this information more people will become vigilant ensuing that more pets remain with their loving owners.

Visit for details

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Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats – Lift that Lip!!

This is a picture of the dogs teeth before the dental work

Mrs. Miggins (name has been changed to protect the innocent!!) is a loving pet owner, her 2 cats, Salt and Pepper and her dog Bruno (names have also been changed!) are regular visitors to the vets, but they do not need to come frequently. We see them only once a year for their annual health check and vaccination, although we had recommended that we see Bruno every 6 months due to his more advanced years, Mrs. Miggins takes great care in looking after her three darlings.


This picture was taken just 3 days after the dental work

Bringing all three of the little ones to the vets is quite a challenge and with Bruno pulling on the lead to get into the practice and the cats always a little unsure about why they are being taken to the vets, it is always an eventful visit. One afternoon, Mrs. Miggins had booked her three in for their annual check and she had told our client care staff that she had a few questions to ask about a pretty awful smell coming from Bruno. When Mrs. Miggins arrived, I went out to greet her and the problem was pretty obvious for all to smell! A wall of bad breath came to meet me just outside of the consult room. Sure enough, after conducting a full physical exam and giving Bruno a clean bill of health, I checked his mouth to find the cause of the problem. All of the teeth were covered in calculus, not a large amount, but significant nonetheless and smelly. Hi gums were very inflammed and sore and they had started to swell a little. I recommended that Bruno had a Professional Periodontal Treatment, which included a full examination of his mouth, full scale and polish of his teeth, including under the gum line and surgical removal of any teeth which were too damaged and painful to ever make comfortable. In the end, this turned out to only be one tooth, which was too loose to save and he must of felt a lot better without it. The treatment was done under anaesthetic as Bruno was very good, but certainly would not have stayed still when we were cleaning the sore bits of gum which were under the gumline. When he came to see me for his check up a few days after the procedure, the gums looked so much better, Mrs. Miggins told me that he seemed a bit perkier, although the slowing down had been so gradual that she had thought it was just his old age and not realised that his teeth and gums were hurting him.

This story is very typical of the pets that we see on a daily basis. Teeth can get many different problems, but here we are talking about a condition called periodontitis. This is caused by plaque and tartar which contain bacteria and build up on the teeth over time. The bacteria sit next to the gums, causing inflammation and then they start to make their way down in the gap between the tooth and the jaw, destroying the bone and causing pain and infection and eventually a very loose tooth. The first thing that many owners notice is the bad breath caused by the bacteria, but if you look carefully, you will often see yellow calculus (tartar) which builds up close to the gum line. Initially, it is impossible to see effects under the gum line, it is only visible (without prfoessional equipment) when so much bone gets destroyed that the part of the tooth which is usually covered by gum and bone becomes visible (a very severely effected tooth). At this stage, it is irreversible.

The great news is that in mild and moderately affected teeth, the process IS totally reversible and the body will do the work for us as long as the teeth and gums are kept very clean. Therefore, it is really important that any affected teeth are cleaned professionally and then kept scrupulously clean by tooth brushing at home. Professional periodontal cleaning and examinations must be done under anaesthetic, to make sure that the pet is not put through any pain and that the area under the gum line is cleaned effectively. Home brushing should be done once per day – everyday! To have the most effect.

But prevention is better than cure, so if we can get brushing the teeth of all of the puppies and kittens that we see, we should be able to avoid most periodontal disease and leave our pets with much nicer smelling breath, much cleaner looking teeth and a mouth that is free from pain and infection.

I have included some pictures of a dog I treated recently. His gums were very sore before treatment, so much so that in one area of his gums, the gum had become so irritated that it had grown a little lump from it, which needed to be removed. After treatment, his gums are much less inflamed and his owner told me that he appeared to be brighter and happier – a really great success!

The article was written by Dr. Oli MRCVS, the owner and vet at The Finchley Vet, 599 High Road, Finchley. 020 3603 4441. If you have any questions about this or anything else, please do not hesitate to ring us. oli


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