Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
What Is a Rawhide Bone?
Rawhide bones basically consist of the inner part of the hide of a bovine livestock. Rawhide bones are typically sold in pet stores as chew treats, and they may come in different shapes and sizes. Rolls, twists, sticks, braids, or hand-tied bones are just a few examples.
Advertised for scraping away plaque, controlling the build-up of tartar, massaging gums, diminishing bad breath, and entertaining the dog for hours, there are concealed risks all pet owners must be aware of when purchasing these apparently innocuous dental chews.
Signs a Dog May Have Swallowed Rawhide
Once a large piece of rawhide bone makes it through the dog's digestive tract (esophagus, stomach, and intestines), it can become lodged and is unable to pass, ultimately causing a blockage. The symptoms may vary from dog to dog, depending on the location of the obstruction.
Trachea: The first place the swallowed rawhide may get stuck is in the dog's trachea (windpipe). If this is the case, you will notice your dog in distress, choking and drooling and often frantically attempting to remove the stuck piece with its paws. This is a life-threatening condition and you should seek immediate emergency treatment.
Esophagus: Lower down the road, the rawhide may lodge in the dog's esophagus (basically, the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach), causing drooling and regurgitation shortly after eating. When regurgitation takes place, the dog will bring back up undigested food in large pieces, often in an oblong tubular shape.
Stomach and Intestines: Next, the swallowed rawhide may get lodged in the stomach, in the curvy areas of the intestine. Vomiting, loss of appetite, and possibly diarrhea are a few symptoms affected dogs will experience. They may also suffer from abdominal pain, assume a hunched-up position, and strain to defecate.
Symptoms suggesting an intestinal blockage should not be ignored. In some worst-case scenarios, the swallowed rawhide may cause a hole to develop at the blockage site, causing a life-threatening infection known as ''peritonitis.''
How to Prevent Future Problems
Problems mainly seem to arise when dogs gulp down the rawhide chews in large pieces or even whole. This is why supervising a dog when eating a rawhide is a must and why it is very important to select the most appropriate rawhide chews for the dog's size and weight.
If the rawhide gets small enough that it can be swallowed, it should be removed to prevent problems, explains Debra Primovic, a veterinarian who writes for Petplace.com. Dog owners must also keep in mind that risks can never be completely eliminated. Sometimes, even with the closest monitoring, trouble may still occur when choosing to offer rawhide bones to a dog.
For Further Reading
- How to Stop a Dog From Eating Fast
A dog eating fast is not only a bad habit, but also a cause for concern since it may lead to several health problems. If you own a dog that wolfs down its food as soon as you put it down, be assured there are ways to address this problem and calm...
- Symptoms of intestinal blockage in dogs
Learn the warning symptoms of an intestinal blockage in dogs and when to see the vet. Ask questions and post comments about your dog's intestinal blockage.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: My puppy swallowed a chunk of rawhide before I could retrieve it from her and she now has very runny stools, will this break down and pass?
Answer: Unfortunately, there are no sure answers to a question as such. The piece of rawhide may be flexible enough and get broke down by the intestinal tract enough to pass (it can take 3-5 days). It may not. Only your vet can tell by taking x-rays and seeing if it's stuck. The diarrhea may be gastritis from the gut being challenged with all this.
Question: Can I do the Heimlich maneuver or reach a finger in to get a rawhide bone out of my dog? She is a Yorkie Jack Russell mix, and all I have I love her and what can I do?
Answer: If your dog can breathe, but seems uncomfortable as if it's stuck somewhere, she should be taken to an emergency clinic immediately. Your dog should be evaluated by a vet, so the best method for removing it is determined. If the object is stuck in the esophagus, with the Heimlich maneuver, you may risk hurting the dog, make the object harder to retrieve or risk getting bitten.
Question: We gave my puppy a small rawhide bone to chew on and has been counting ever since then. Will she eventually pass it?
Answer: If your pup is choking, it is very important to immediately see the vet. If her gums are nice and pink, and her respiratory rate is normal and she just happens to have some coughing, you can try to give a small amount of honey to sooth her irritated throat. Make sure it's not sugar-free honey with xylitol which is toxic to dogs! If you think she may have some particles stuck in the throat, you can try to feed her a few pieces of bread and then offering water in hopes of pushing any residual pieces left in the larynx through. You can try to repeat again a little later if the coughing persists, but see your vet if she's struggling to breathe or develops other worrisome signs.
Mohan on October 19, 2019:
My 3 months lab puppy swallowed 3 inch size rawhide bone stick .what to do? But active now .Any treatment not to stuck in the intestine
Kirsty ferri on September 30, 2017:
My dog swallows big prices of rawhide then is sick eats again and sick till he swallowed it he only a small dog
Dana on July 11, 2017:
My dog is gagin was chewing on big bone ? Stopped now but threw up a little bit gaged again stop think he got a piece off bone what do I do? He's only 1 yr and couple months
Lisa on June 23, 2017:
Gave raw hide stick first time. Dog got sick and part of it has come out. She is not eating or drinking. She has had bowel movements. We gave her ice cubes she seems to be a little better just so worried about her.
Jodie on March 30, 2017:
My puppy is 6 months old i gave her a raw hide cigar and took half off her because she tried to swallow it whole. She has had diarehea for the past four days with blood in it. What would you reccomend i do. Im not gonna give her rawhide again as my other dog was the same for two weeks.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 09, 2017:
Christinelopez, I would take her to the vet to be safe.
Christinelopez1978 on March 08, 2017:
Hi yes I gave my 3 mth old puppy chew treat called Nylabone yesterday. And later on in the day she didn't want to eat. N when we woke up in the morning there was poop everywhere. It was solid but the last poop she did was formed but soft. She hasn't touched her breakfast. I'm worried that the bone upset her stomach. Don't know what to do.
Kennie on October 31, 2016:
My 5 month old Rottweiler got a hold of a piece of rawhide outside & showed all the symptoms. What happens at the vet once I take him in? He is still playful, eating and drinking but has issues with diarrhea.
Kathy on October 06, 2016:
Would you happen to have an idea How big a piece of rawhide would have to be in order to cause problems for a 125 pound king shepherd?
Pat Grimes on May 16, 2016:
I gave my Boxer a new type Busy bone the kind with the bacon twist , well she's been sickly acting every since!!!!
Lynn on March 07, 2016:
Another thing you need to be aware of is danger from stuffed toys. My one year old cavalier just came home from surgery for an intestinal obstruction. Two hours of surgery and $4000 later he is now recovering from swallowing several large pieces from a toy stuffed animal he tore apart and swallowed. The toy was large enough I never thought it would be harmful but it is amazing what dogs can swallow and then later gets caught in their intestines. Because it is linear it was in both the upper and lower intestines and required multiple incisions to clear the obstructions. We have removed all stuffed toys and are particularly careful of socks, panties etc that be accessible to our dog.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 09, 2015:
It can surely be a scary ordeal! I have stopped giving them because my dogs used to vomit rawhide fragments the day after and I couldn't stand being worried about it.
Norma from Delray Beach Florida on July 08, 2015:
I have a almost 11 years old Italian Greyhound of around 14 lbs. and I have just thrown out all of her rawhide sticks. She swallowed a piece but so far she has shown no symptoms of concern. It has been almost 48 hours now and she is showing normal behavior with eating and drinking and just had a normal stool so I suspect that there is no lodging in her intestinal track. I could not find the piece in her stool though. I think we got lucky so I don't intend to take any more chances. She does not eat and swallow other objects so that's a good thing. There are other alternatives that are digestible and safer so I intend to try her on those with supervision. She loves to chew on chew sticks only and it does help keep her teeth clean.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 23, 2013:
Is your puppy undergoing surgery? poop pup, I hope he gets better soon~!
I just found out yesterday at my vet that my 3 month old puppy has a bone inside its stomach!! At first he had a bacterial infection he got treated for that and was starting to act normally until 2 da on December 23, 2013:
It truly is true....that a dog is a man's best friend and is part of the family and you love them as much as you would your children!
Oh also found out today that in S.A. you are only permitted to have 5 dogs!!
So beware of inspectors and get all dogs sterilized and give all puppies their 6 week shot! :-)
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 26, 2012:
Oh my, so sorry to hear that, that's so sad. We try to do our best for our dogs and when these unfortunate things happen it's just awful! Don't beat yourself up for this; it's not your fault. My deepest condolences.
Stella110302 on September 26, 2012:
My dog Stella ate a Dingo stick. The stick got lodged in her throat earlier in the morning before we left for the day. When I returned later that evening, she had difficulty breathing so we went immediately to the ER vet - unfortunately I was too late and she ended up dying from congestive heart failure. I have never been more devistated in my life. She was my child and my best friend for over 9.5 years. Do NOT give your dogs any kind of rawhide/Dingo product if you want them alive. So upset with myself that I lead her to her death...I haven't stopped crying for days.
tanja on May 25, 2012:
My boxer loves the rawhide rolls and chews them until there is nothing left. The pieces she swallows are small and soft and very chewed up. I thought the rawhide was digestible and disintegrated so I didn't worry. I am surprised to learn they do not get digested! Two days ago she found one in the yard that had been sitting in the sun for a week. When she started chewing it, it splintered into sharp pieces. I threw it away but I think she swallowed a few splinters. Yesterday she had a coughing fit and vomited undigested food. Later that evening she ate and then coughed and vomited again. Today she ate and seems to be ok, I gave her some milk to encourage some extra fluids. She's been eating grass in the yard and hasn't had a bowel movement in 2 days but otherwise is her playful energetic self. I'll take away the rawhide for sure and encourage extra fluids. She still coughs a little, it's a dry cough and only happens when she gets excited. Should I be concerned or just watch her for worsening symptoms for a couple days?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 22, 2012:
It is really hard to say if he is out of the woods, only a vet can say with an x-ray. If he stops vomiting and is able to keep food down and has normal bowel movements then that is a good sign.
wheeler on May 22, 2012:
I noticed my dog having above siptoms.Although he seems better this after noon.It all started yesterday morning. Do I need to be concerned if hes not trying to puke any more? He was sick all night, and this morning. Still swallows kinda funny
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 17, 2012:
If she is vomiting there are chances that rawhide may cause problems because of lodging somewhere. Pork hide, rawhide, and just about anything that can be gulped down and is not digestible may cause obstructions. Here is helpful link of signs of dog blockages:https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Symptoms-of-intestinal...
Nana on May 16, 2012:
Oh my goodness, I didn't realize that it could hurt my babies. I have 3 dogs...a lab, dachshund, and 10 week old chihuahua. My dachshund has been vomiting flem all day. One time her food came up and then flem after that. I am so worried about her. She did still her sister's pig ear and I was thinking she ate too much of that one thing? Any advice? I am going to cut down on these and get rid of all rawhide. How about the pork "hide?"
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 03, 2012:
Margaret, according to Dingo's website '' The biggest risk of a dog swallowing one of the treats whole is impaction. You want to make sure that your dog is acting normal, eating ok, drinking ok and going to the bathroom ok. If you see any signs that he is suffering from anything out of the ordinary you need to take him to your veterinarian. Otherwise his body should break it down and he will expel the undigested part in his stool.
Margaret Davis on January 01, 2012:
My 7.5 lb Chiuaua swallowed part of a Dingo Dental Bone made primarily from rawhide about 48 hours ago. She has been fine so far, but how long should I be concerned about this? So far, her energy, food and water intake, and defication have been normal.
moonlake from America on November 15, 2011:
We never give our dogs rawhide. I have always worried about them. Good Hub.
Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on November 15, 2011:
I have been a little wary of these but my wife would buy them for our dog. The problem solved itself when the dog got bored with them.
Kristin Trapp from Illinois on November 15, 2011:
Yikes! I had no idea of this danger. I am definitely going to not leave any rawhides bones out for Ruby (my beagle) to chew on without my supervision. And she does have some small pieces laying around that I suppose she could swallow. So I a going to take your advice and the vet's advice and get rid of those.
~voting up and useful~