Rawhide is an incredibly popular dog chew that can go a long way to stopping your favorite Frenchie from chewing on items around the home that you would rather they keep out of their mouths. But is rawhide safe for Frenchies, what about it it’s swallowed, and will it digest properly?
These topics have risen to the fore in recent years, with some people now saying rawhide is dangerous for dogs. Admittedly, Claude used to love to get his jaws around a piece of rawhide, but we’ve recently stopped giving it to him and I will explain why in a moment.
It’s a purely personal thing. We’ve taken this decision to be completely on the safe side.
Read on to find out the reasons why we no longer let our French Bulldog eat rawhide, and what you should do if your Frenchie has swallowed the bones.
Can French Bulldogs have rawhide bones? French Bulldogs can have rawhide bones, but there are risks of choking and digestive blockages if the rawhide is swallowed. Rawhide can also produce allergic reactions in some Frenchies, and there are small risks of toxic contamination in the bones too.
Why we decided to no longer our Frenchie have rawhide
The short answer is above, but I wanted to get into a little detail on why our Frenchie isn’t allowed to have rawhide bones anymore.
Before I do that though, I don’t want to panic you about having let your French Bulldog have rawhide. Millions of dogs the world over chew rawhide on a daily basis, so in terms of risks, they are very small.
That’s why the decision needs to be one that you take yourself. To do that, you should weigh up the risks versus the benefits and then make your own choice.
However, there was one thing that I read which made my mind up for me a few months ago. It was on a Facebook post from a vet who was discussing whether rawhide safe for French bulldogs. Here’s what she wrote:
“Frenchies love to chew rawhide bones until it gets really slippery and soft. They then run the risk of swallowing. Sometimes that can be completely accidental, just with one breath being taken. Once the French Bulldog swallows the chewed rawhide bone it can obstruct the airway, sometimes leading to a fatality.”
French Bulldogs love to chew, it is a dog’s natural instinct after all. But is rawhide really safe for French Bulldogs? While the risks are rather low, there are still some safety hazards that come with these treats; including choking hazards, bacterial infections, digestive irritation, and even allergies. Let’s get into those dangers below.
The risks and dangers of rawhide to Frenchies
Unfortunately, there are always going to be risks with dogs putting anything in their mouths. Whilst it is impossible (and unhealthy) to keep them from chewing, there are ways to make sure that your dog is safe and healthy.
Here are the three main risks associated with rawhide bone chewing that I have since researched online.
1. Choking hazard
Unlike bone and other hard things that dogs find to chew on, rawhide is designed to soften up as it is chewed. This means hide should tear away and thus prevent any splintering that can cause damage to your French Bulldog’s teeth.
However, an overzealous Frenchie can literally bite off more than they can chew. The larger the piece of rawhide that your dog bites off, the harder it can be to swallow and can result in it getting caught in the oesophagus or digestive tract.
While sometimes a blockage can be removed by a vet, it can require expensive and stressful surgery (with unresolved blockages even posing a risk of death).
There are several ways to help stop your French Bulldog from choking on rawhide. This include separating it from other dogs (to stop it from eating too fast to avoid competition), supervising them when they are eating it, and taking the rawhide away from them once it is small enough for them to swallow whole.
When taking any treat away from your dog, it is important that you exchange it for another toy or treat, as this stops them from becoming possessive over their treats in the future (which can lead to biting and jumping up).
2. Bacteria and contamination
Because rawhide is made of meat (mainly dried animal skin), they can suffer from the same kind of bacterial contamination as all other kinds of food, including Salmonella and E.Coli. There is the small risk that your Frenchie could suffer a bacterial infection.
To prevent this, make sure the rawhide you buy is made within the country you reside in. That way you increase the chances that it is fresh and follows high safety standards.
However, because Salmonella and E.Coli, as well as other bacteria, can also affect humans, it is recommended that you keep the rawhide away from any food preparation areas. Also make sure to wash your hands after handling the rawhide.
3. Allergic reactions
The lesser known risk of rawhide is the allergic properties, and you won’t know if your Frenchie suffers until they’ve already chewed rawhide.
In simple terms, some dogs have allergies to rawhide. Whilst it’s not that common, there can be substances in the product when it’s manufactured that can cause issues such as diarrhea.
My French Bulldog swallowed rawhide…
Disclaimer: I am not a vet. All the opinion here is based on online research and my own personal views. If you are in any way concerned, you should use your own common sense.
If your Frenchie has swallowed rawhide and you cannot see any immediate breathing problem, then you’re not in a choking situation. Soft and chewed up rawhide should (in most cases) digest and break down in their stomach eventually.
If you notice any signs that your Frenchie’s behavior is changing, then go to the vet.
Symptoms to watch out for
If your dog shows any of these symptoms, take the rawhide away and speak to your vet:
- Gagging and repeated swallowing
- Sudden loss of appetite or weight loss
- Regurgitation or vomiting
- Lack of energy (or any sudden change in temperament or behavior)
- Signs of pain
If your Frenchie is showing any of these signs (even if they have not had any rawhide) it is always recommended that you take them to see a vet as soon as possible.
If you leave any symptoms unresolved or unchecked, this can lead to further issues and even the possibility of death.
How to keep them safe
Always make sure that you supervise your Frenchie when they are chewing on rawhide or a similar chew. You will then be aware of how much of it they are swallowing and if they are in any difficulty.
The general rule of thumb with anything related to your dog is: ask your vet.
It is always better safe than sorry, so if you are concerned about anything from what your French Bulldog is eating, what they’re chewing or if you have noticed a change in their usual behavior, it is always worth asking a professional for their opinion.
Like with human health, Googling an answer will only get you so far.
The benefits of rawhide to Frenchies
For complete impartiality, I also wanted to share with you some of the benefits of chewing rawhide. As I explained earlier, whilst there are risks, they are probably very small given how many dogs have this treat each day.
There is a reason they are so popular with dogs and dog owners alike. Chewing is a natural instinct for all dogs, especially Frenchies; acting as a stress and anxiety reliever that helps to keep your dog calm on quiet days in between walks, as well as exercising their powerful jaw muscles.
You may not realize it, but dental hygiene is not just important for you, but also for your dog. Foul breath can be a sign of poor dental hygiene, including cavities, tooth rot, and even gum disease, all of which can cost you a lot in vets bills to put right (as well as causing stress and discomfort for your dog).
Gum disease is actually 5 times more common in dogs than it is in humans. You can actually brush your dogs’ teeth for them (most even like this extra attention), and it is recommended that you visit the vet for a check-up about twice a year.
However, it has also been proven that dogs that chew on rawhide, bones, and toys have less plague build up on their teeth (see some recommended toys), with the chewing helping dislodge food from their teeth before it can settle.
In terms of entertainment, restless dogs often find relief in chewing on your favorite pair of shoes or an expensive piece of furniture; but a rawhide or other dog chew provides a far tastier alternative that keeps them from spoiling your belongings.
If you are unsure what kind of rawhide to get your French Bulldog, asking the owner of your local pet store can prove a fountain of knowledge, they know their main clientele better than anyone and usually have the right product for all sizes of dog.
What can I give my French Bulldog instead of rawhide?
If you are worried about your Frenchie having rawhide, or if they have had issues with it in the past, then there are many rawhide alternatives available for you.
Vets often steer people away from cow hooves, as these can splinter and are far more likely to cause a choking hazard, as well as deer antlers (which aren’t like bones and can cause major damage to your dogs’ teeth, almost like chewing on rocks).
There are hundreds of dog chews on the market, each with their own health-benefits, flavors and ingredients. It is best to shop around, see what is best for your dog and if they enjoy it.
However, I have put a list together of my recommended Frenchie teething and chew toys. Take a look at that to see which rawhide alternatives are popular right now.
Every dog is different, so testing out a variety can go a long way. Always check the calorie content and sugars, so you know how many to give your dog and how often, so that they remain healthy.
Frozen carrots are a peculiar alternative, but they are a great choice especially for teething puppies (although be sure to wash them before freezing, and make sure that they are full-sized rather than baby carrots, as they are a choking hazard).
You can read my ideas on how to feed carrots to a Frenchie, with some suggested recipes.
Bully sticks are made of beef, are highly digestible and also help with oral health, but they do contain more calories than rawhide.
Is rawhide digestible?
Rawhide is mainly made of the inner layer of animal skin, often from a cow or horse, meaning that they are designed to be fully edible. Most rawhide will be easily digested and pass through the dog without any issues.
However, as mentioned above, larger pieces can get caught in the digestive tract so it is recommended that you make sure you supervise your French Bulldog when it has a rawhide so that you are aware of how much it is chewing.
When the rawhide gets small enough for it to fit entirely inside its mouth and potentially be swallowed whole, take the rawhide away in exchange for another treat or toy.
What chews are safe for Frenchies?
The dog-chew market is enormous, with all different kinds of chews available to you including edible chews, rubber chews, and rope chews. What chew you choose for your dog is usually dependant on your French Bulldog’s size, its personality and how it deals with chews.
If your French Bulldog is a ‘gulper’, in that they eat fast and swallow large chunks of the treat at once, then it is best to avoid things like rawhide and bully sticks as this can prove to be a choking hazard.
However, harder and inedible chews may be the route to go, but always be sure to keep an eye on them if they do have an edible chew.
Handy Hint: Take a look at my recommended Frenchie gear pages to see what toys and chews we recommend.
Bones may seem to be the classic choice, but before you throw whatever leftovers you have at your hound, do your research first. Cooked bones, poultry bones, and pork bones should NOT be given to your dog, as the bones can splinter and create dangerous shards that can cause damage and be a major choking hazard.
If you want to give your Frenchie a bone, raw meat bones are recommended by vets, and are best given to them after a meal so that they don’t eat too much of it. After it has had it for about ten minutes, take it away and store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for tomorrow. However, it is best to dispose of it after a few days, to prevent bacterial contamination, and also keep it away from other raw meat and food.
If you are ever unsure of what to give your dog, speak to your vet.
What age can Frenchie puppies have rawhide?
There really isn’t an age limit on rawhide as it really varies on a dog-by-dog basis. Puppies typically begin teething around 12 to 16 weeks old, so before that a rawhide will probably not really do much for them.
However, when serious teething hits giving chews can help prevent any of your shoes or belonging from falling prey to your puppy’s adventures around the house.
Again, as with all dogs, keep an eye on your puppy when they are eating the rawhide and always take it away once it is small enough for them to swallow. If your puppy is taking larger bites, perhaps consider a softer option to prevent choking.
If your Frenchie likes to bite off large chunks of treats, or even just has a history of digestive issues or diarrhea, then I would not recommend you let them have rawhide. You’d be better off letting them have an alternative such as a rubber toy or natural marrow.
If you are unsure of what kind of treat is safe to give your dog, talk to your vet or local pet store and tell them what kind of dog you have (as well as their size and any issues they may have had with chewable treats in the past).
Ultimately though, the choice is yours. We made a decision to not give our French Bulldog rawhide anymore. The risks of swallowing appear to be low, but for us, it’s not worth the gamble.
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I’ve got some other blog posts about the things Frenchies like to eat and chew on that you might also like: