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Rawhides can pose health risk for dogs

Chris Ramirez
April 28, 2017 07:19 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- People often ask how reporters get story ideas. This one came from watching what happened with Chris Ramirez's own brother Shayne Huffman and his dog Rocky.

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"He had vomited a lot at my house and then for like 30 minutes," Huffman said. "He was dry heaving more like he was trying to throw up but nothing was coming out.  that was one of the most concerning things."

In the middle of the night, Huffman rushed Rocky to an emergency veterinary hospital.

"The x-rays revealed he had shards of bones he had been eating the night before balled up in his stomach, and they were blocking his intestinal track," he said.

Rocky went into emergency surgery and spent two days on IV and around-the-clock care. A photo shows exactly what the surgeon pulled out of Rocky's intestines. Flakes that look like stones came from rawhide. In Rocky's case, it was rawhide shaped to look like a bone Huffman gave to Rocky the night before.

"I was really surprised because, for one, I didn't realize he was actually eating pieces of the bone and, two, because I didn't realize bone could get stuck in his stomach like that," Huffman said.

A quick online search reveals websites railing against the rawhide industry. One online magazine called rawhides the deadliest chew toys. While many manufacturers market rawhides as genuine leather, studies have proven many companies use nothing more than chemicals, glue, bleach and artificial flavors to form something that looks like a dog chew.

"Treat-wise, most of the safest things will be things they can eat right away, anything that can break down because that will be easier for them," said Dr. Holly Delanoy, a veterinarian at the Rio Grande Animal Hospital.

Delanoy sees rawhide flake blockage all too often in three main areas -- a dog's esophagus, stomach and intestines. She's so concerned about rawhides that she won't even give her own dog one.

"My dog, I had to take them away because she would swallow big pieces and then hack them back up," she said. "And I was like no, that's not going to work for you."

If your dog needs to gnaw or chew, Delanoy said there are some really good options.

"Look for things like Kongs, and there are treat balls that they can -- if they are smart enough -- can actually move the treat ball around and it drops treats and keeps them occupied," she said. "Things like that will be safe and won't cause a problem. 

When it comes to gnawing, Delanoy recommended a good Kong. You put your treat in there and the dog has to get it out. For a good treat, she recommended anything made in the USA, that can break down, and is easily digestible.

Rocky is one of the luckier dogs. He survived the rawhide, and Huffman was more than willing to pay the steep veterinary bill.

If anything, what has he learned from this experience with Rocky?

"To do a little bit of research about products before I give them to my dog before I buy them or give them to him," Huffman said.

Credits

Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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