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First and foremost, always be present when your dog is playing or chewing on ANY object and do not leave chew toys in a kennel to  "keep them occupied" during the day while you may be at work. You can imagine the scenarios which could easily occur in your absence.

This is the "chewy treat" we offer our dogs

Natural, all cotton ropes.  They make the best chew toys and can be purchased at most local home improvement stores in any length you choose. Buy ONLY the  all natural cotton rope. Poly ropes or any other type are not recommended as your dog will not be able to digest them if swallowed.

Our dogs like playing tug-o-war, so we cut the ropes into two foot sections (which gives them enough to hold onto with their teeth) and then tie knots at each end. Sometimes we tie double knots, depending on how aggressively a particular dog can chew.

Trying to undo these knots keeps our dogs busy for hours. And while some of the cotton rope may be swallowed, it is always expelled in their feces. In the hot months, we soak the ropes in water and then put them in the freezer for a while. The dogs really like these "cool" play toys.

Over they years, this has been our choice of play toy for the many dogs we have had and not once have any of our puppies or dogs ever choked on these ropes nor has there ever been any problem with bowel obstruction. You simply cannot go wrong with all natural cotton. Another plus is that these 'chew toys' can be washed and sanitized over and over. Not so with other play toys, especially nasty tennis balls. Think sticks are the best choice for a play toy?

Read here:

Stick injuries hurt many dogs

When buying toys for your dog, Do NOT buy ones intended for dogs. Huh? That's right, most of these products are from China and until they show more of an interest in the safety and wellbeing of our pets, we will steer clear of their toys for animals and even their pet food. Recall the deaths related to melamine added to pet food a few years ago? This was deliberate, a way to add more bulk to food at a cheap price and still have a nice financial return. Actual protein would have added to their bottom line of cost. Their toys often have toxic foam as well as small pellets or beads which can and DO easily choke small puppies and dogs.

If you want a great toy for your dog to chew on, go to the infant or children's department of your favourite store and select toys intended for human babies. The companies making these toys must comply with rigid governmental  regulations to ensure the safety of their products for BABIES and like babies, puppies and sometimes older dogs are prone to chewing and swallowing bits and pieces of toya. Also,  toys purchased from an infant department ensures that anything swallowed CAN be easily expelled and is non toxic.

Toys intended for puppies and dogs often have toxic properties and may come from other countries that have little governmental regulations regarding pet safety. Next time you want to purchase a toy from the pet department of your favourite store, take a moment to smell the odour from the toy and then imagine it being thoroughly moistened by your dog's mouth. If the odour is pungent when dry, it will be even more so when wet. If it is an offensive odour when dry, more than likely this is NOT the toy for your pal to be slobbering on or ingesting. ~ Mel K911.biz

Rawhides, Cow Hooves, Pig Ears, Greenies, Nylabones, Bully Sticks, Tennis Balls, What Is Really Safe for My Dog?

While not necessarily all toxic, items in this group consists of objects that could pose a choking hazard, risk for intestinal obstruction, or other physical injury, and in 2006, the number of physical hazard calls grew a staggering 460 percent to over 3,800 says the ASPCAź.

Any dog owner knows how much puppies and adult dogs chew. They chew on slippers, carpet, furniture, walls, etc. To prevent the ultimate destruction of their homes, they run out and buy gobs of chew toys for their dogs. A large percentage of what they buy will be rawhide.

These well-liked dog treats are purchased in large numbers, especially around holidays, by well-meaning dog owners hoping to give their pets something special. These toys are favorites for many dogs and are popular with owners because they keep their pets occupied and supposedly out of trouble during holiday activities.

There are definite risks associated with these treats, however. All three types are supposedly made of digestible animal products. However, they are digested quite slowly and, if consumed rapidly, can cause either vomiting or diarrhea from the many pieces still sitting undigested in the GI tract. If the treats are swallowed whole or in large chunks, there are additional dangers. Rawhide chews can lodge in the throat and cause choking, or a large piece may be swallowed, scraping and irritating the throat and esophagus on the way down.

Once in the stomach or intestinal tract, a large piece of rawhide can also create a physical obstruction causing a blockage which could be life-threatening. An additional danger that is less widely known is the practice, in some countries, of using an arsenic-based preservative in the processing of rawhide toys. If you do purchase these products, we recommend you stick to brands processed in the U.S.

There has also been an FDA alert about the risk of Salmonella associated with dog chew products made from pork or beef-derived materials: refer to the FDA advisory or call 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332).

What is Rawhide? Rawhide is literally the outside of a cow – the skin. It provides dogs with a satisfying chewing experience and it’s cheap and easy to find. So how can it be dangerous?

Hidden Dangers Dr. John Wedeking, an Iowa veterinarian, remembers hearing about rawhide in the news. “Reports of arsenic contamination popped up in papers once,” he says, but adds that it came from another country. Since rawhide is not regulated in any way, it could happen again. These foreign hides may also contain other detrimental things such as antibiotics, lead, or insecticides that could adversely affect the health of your dog.

Wedeking adds that dogs can easily choke on it when the original large rawhide object is chewed down to a smaller piece. “Choking is a hazard, and rawhide can cause gastric irritation when dogs chew on it often,” he says. Wedeking adds that gastric irritation can also cause vomiting and extreme discomfort in dogs. 'Tests on imported pet products made from animal hides by UK health authorities revealed many carried the salmonella bug, a common cause of gastro-intestinal infections in humans." "They found that one in three batches imported from Thailand and one in eight from China contained salmonellas that had survived processing and manufacturing" From: The Holistic Option.com by Dr. Jeannie Thomason (VND)

A Lurking Danger to Your Pets

From Raw Hides to Rawhide Treats By Dusti Summerbird-Lockey  http://www.daneangelnetwork.org/rawhide.htm

I am an Oglala Lakota artist and craftsperson. I have been doing Traditional work such as making rawhide, tanning leather, beadwork and quillwork for over 30 years.  It is because of my knowledge of making rawhide and my deep love for all four legged creatures, most especially my Great Danes, I felt compelled to write this article for you. Hopefully it will help save lives.

We see them in all the pet stores, the grocers, the feed stores. Everywhere. So we assume they are safe for our pets. They must be, they are sold everywhere. Right?

Think again. Rawhide treats are a danger to your pets, and to your children if swallowed.

Rawhide is just exactly what it says, a raw dried out animal hide. This includes not only the rawhide bones & chews but also pig ears, pig snouts, bull tails, cow ears, lamb ears, choo-hooves, etc.  The vast majority of rawhide pet treats are not made in the United States. But even those marked “Made in the U.S.” are a hazard.

A piece of rawhide purchased as a treat for your pet is a hide, usually bull, cow or horse obtained from slaughter houses, that has been scraped clean of all vestiges of meat, fat and hair. Rawhide, however, can be made from just about any animal. For Native Americans and early Europeans, it was the sheet metal, nails and binding material of the day.  Rawhide was used to repair items such as horse gear and broken gunstocks. It was used in cabin construction as door hinges, windows and truss bindings and Mandan Indians used rawhide in the construction of their boats. As you can see, rawhide is a very strong, durable, heavy-duty item that does not easily break down.

Still want to give it to your pets?

How is it made? Rawhide is made for commercial use from bull, cow and horsehides obtained from slaughterhouses as a byproduct of the meat industry.  The flesh side is scraped clean of all remaining meat, membrane, fat, etc. Traditionally this is done by hand, using a drawknife and scraper. Modern day tanneries use a form of a band saw to speed the process up and make a nice clean piece of leather. Commercial manufacturers of rawhide products have machinery to do this.  Once the flesh side is cleaned, the hair must be removed. There are two traditional ways of doing this. One is to “dry scrape” by hand. This is extremely time consuming, not to mention the amount of good ol’ fashioned elbow grease! Commercial makers of rawhide do not use this method.

The other method is to soak the fleshed hide in either an Ash-Lye solution or a Lime solution. The Ash-Lye involves covering or soaking the hide in a mixture of wood ash and water, which creates Lye. The hide soaks for approximately. 3 days in the Lye solution, then as much of the hair as possible is scraped off. The process is repeated until all hair is removed. 

The Lime solution is the quickest and most often utilized by manufacturers. This utilizes ordinary builders powdered (hydrated) Lime. The hide soaks for 1-3 days and the hair is scraped off. This process is highly caustic but the most efficient for mass production.

To remove all traces of the Lime solution and to sanitize the rawhide product, commercial makers then rinse the hides in a bleach solution before creating whatever shape is to be used. The bone and other shapes used to attract you and your pet are created while the hide is still wet.  The “treats” are then either dried or sent for “smoking” to further entice the unsuspecting owner and pet. A processed rawhide can shrink up to half its original size when dried.

If the chemicals used to make these “treats” haven’t convinced you to stop, please consider this:

When rawhide is again wetted, usually when your pet salivates over this chew you have provided, it will slowly regain its original size. When your pet tears off and swallows a piece, that piece then has the potential to swell inside your dog’s stomach. Your dog’s gastric juices WILL NOT break down the rawhide. Once swollen, the piece then has the potential to cause anything from mild to severe gastric upset, to death.

So you have always given your dog rawhides for years with no problems?

It only takes one negative event to claim your dogs life. Are you certain you want to gamble with your beloved friend’s life?

Don’t believe me?

Take the rawhide challenge. Cut varying sizes from different rawhide products and set them in a bowl of water to soak before going to bed. In the morning you will see the sizes that they have grown to. They will vary, but the increase should be noticeable.

Distributed as a courtesy by Great Dane Angel Network Enterprises, Inc. 

Greenies - The company who makes Greenies claim they are 85% digestible. Some dogs have died as a direct result of eating Greenies. The company says the number of complaints it has received is very low in relation to the vast numbers of treats sold, and CNN spoke with several vets who recommended Greenies. "If your dog is the one suffering the consequences of an undigested Greenie, the number of complaints the Greenies company receives is irrelevant"-- mel.k911.biz@gmail.com

Greenies-Dangerous Dog Treat

Greenie Warning Alert - Information taken from VCA Animal Hospitals web site.

Our office removed a large 1.5" X 1.5" part of an undigested canine Greenie yesterday from a 60 lb. lab's small intestine. I am now clear that this product has a potential adverse effect, causing an intestinal obstruction.

The canine Greenie will be discontinued at our practices and this message will be put as an alert on our web site. We initially felt we removed a Nylabone from this dog's small intestine. We do not recommend Nylabone as a dental cleaning agent for dogs. Nylabone, which can be ingested entirely or in pieces, have been known for many years to be potentially dangerous to dogs, causing a foreign body obstruction in the stomach and small intestine as they are indigestible. We also do not recommend marrow bones and rope toys for the same reasons.

We are still recommending the feline form of Greenies and feel this is a safe product, as its composition is totally different.

I am very concerned about the manufacturer's ethics and responsibility in producing a product that is not 100% digestible. In the package's small print, there are new warnings about making sure your pet "thoroughly chews" up the bone. The old verbiage "The large print giveth and the fine print taketh away" is in fact true.

Below, is the e-mail from the owner of Zoe.

"While our family is very appreciative of the care Zoe received on 1/3/2006 to remove a partial obstruction at the Hickory Ridge facility by Drs Tayman and Graham I have a nagging question now as to whether greenies are truly safe. When looking over the pill bottle containing the culprit it is clearly a Greenie and not a Nylabone.

Only recently over the holiday season did we start giving them to Zoe as a treat and for the teeth cleaning benefits - in large part because they were vet recommended and we've seen them sold in the Hickory Ridge office. In fact while waiting for her to be brought out I now read the fine print on one of the bags in the office "As with any edible product monitor your dog to ensure the treat is adequately chewed. Gulping any item can be harmful or even fatal to a dog" -this is easier said than done with Zoe and I'm guessing Labs and some other breeds in general so my question is are greenies truly safe?

And if they're not, why do you continue to sell them? After coming home a Google search turned up some interesting links with stories similar to Zoe's. Thanks again we truly do appreciate the quality care Columbia Animal Hospitals provides for Zoe."

More information found online

Just wanted to post an overall warning so everyone can pass along to small dog owners. For the second time in 2 years I have seen a esophageal foreign body as a result of a Greenie ingestion. I know that this can happen with any chewable treat but wanted to pass it along as this was a rough case with a horrible outcome.

Four year old female spayed Yorkshire terrier weighing five pounds 12 hour history of anorexia and dysphagia according to owner. DVM did a plain film and barium swallow to confirm esophageal foreign body. Foreign body in distal esophagus caudal to heart. Patient taken to surgery. Through gastronomy, Greenie was broken into pieces and extracted from distal esophagus by surgeon.

Endoscopy of esophagus revealed 2 cm esophageal tear. Owner distraught, agreed to thoracotomy and esophageal suturing to repair, warned of complications. PEG tube placed, chest tube placed, patient recovering ok.

Suddenly owner elects for euthanasia because she does not want to see her Yorkie suffer with the possibility of complications. Reluctantly I complied with her wishes.

I spoke with the company. The DVM would not get into specifics as to how often it occurs but that it can. Recommended supervision and little bits to small dogs less than 10 pounds.

We have pulled them from the shelf in our hospital as this is the second case I have seen. Just thought I'd pass it along as FYI
Dr. Roberts

Nylabones can become sticky and lodge in the back of the throat causing an obstruction. The clear ones usually cannot be detected upon x-ray, so the vet may not know that there is a blockage without doing an exploratory. They are also hard on a teeth so be certain to check the overall condition of your dogs mouth prior to giving him anything this inflexible to chew.

Cow Hooves are even more dangerous than rawhides. They are hard enough that a dog can actually break a tooth on one. They can also be chewed up into sharp fragments which may cause a partial intestinal obstruction. Partial obstructions are often difficult to diagnose until the point at which the fragment is ready to perforate the wall of the bowel from pressure against the sharp edges. If perforation has occurred, the infection that ensues from leakage of intestinal contents can be fatal.  

Pig Ears can cause GI upset if overeaten, similar to the situation with rawhides, although obstructions are less common because the ears are not usually shaped into solid chunks. More Internet investigations turned up this information regarding pig ears: A CTCA member (Coton de Tulearre) lost her three-and-a-half month old puppy to a massive intestinal bacterial infection.

The bacteria noticed on autopsy were Escherichia coli, a common gut bacteria which, in proper balance, is essential for the digestion and absorption of nutrients in the mammalian gut. Too many E. coli, or E. coli in the wrong place (like the lungs) can cause serious disease.

The attending veterinarian and the owner suspect that bacteria inadvertently introduced by a pig ear was the cause of death. While alternative explanations are possible, pig ears are not entirely safe, especially for pups (who need chewies the most). Another vet pointed out the possibility of bacterial contamination also of pig ear chews. All chewie objects can potentially cause injury but pig ears, the most avidly chewed treat of all, can potentially introduce bacteria.

An FDA advisory published by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human services on Oct.1, 1999, stated that there is "a nationwide public health warning alerting consumers about a number of recent cases in Canada of human illnesses apparently related to contact with dog chew products made from pork or beef-derived materials (e.g., pigs ears, beef jerky treats, smoked hooves, pigs skins, etc.)... FDA is urging pet owners... to handle them carefully. Anyone who comes in contact with these treats should wash their hands with hot water and soap. Initial reports of illnesses came from Canada and involved Canadian products, but subsequent examination of similar products produced in the U.S. indicate that all pet chew products of this type may pose a risk...."

Bully Sticks also known as Bully's, beef stick or pizzles, are a dog treat made from a dried bull's penis. Since it is all beef, these are 100% digestible. There have been no known reports of  bully sticks producing problems which are often associated with rawhide, cow's hooves and other chewy treats, such as choking or bowel obstruction.

As with any edible treat given to your dog, use your discretion and always be present when your pets are consuming them. 

See also: Toxic Dog Treats and Why Cooked Bones Can Harm Your Dog