Rawhide, Nylabones, Puppies, and Then Some

by Mary Haight on July 23, 2009

I took my dog to a groomer recommended by a friend yesterday, and found that the location shared space with a pet supply store.  It’s always fun to poke around a newly discovered shop. I could pick up those ear cleaning pads I needed, and a new Nylabone for Tashi.7920_117whnylabone3

I was quickly scanning the racks, when another customer asked the owner if she could get a rawhide chew for a puppy. I dropped my search, and was shaking my head, unconciously mouthing “Nooooooo!” She couldn’t see the look on my face.  The owner told the customer that puppies should not have rawhide chews and she began arguing her position–puppy was chewing up everything including her shoes, she couldn’t leave the room for two seconds without coming back to damage.  Ah, the joys of having a puppy.  Everyone’s in love with puppies until grandma’s desk legs get chewed up!  That’s when the need for gates, crates, and training gets some serious attention.

 As the owner was pointing her in another direction, she grabbed a large rawhide bone, saying that the puppy surely couldn’t tear anything off this bone, built for a Bernese Mountain dog. Since she was right in front of me, I had to chime in with “why take a chance–you could be in the kitchen while your dog is choking to death in the living room.”  I showed her the Nylabone package in my hand and said “there are several other options, like this one, or the one that the owner has over there.” 

She let go of the rawhide idea. She just wanted a reliable “babysitter” for her puppy.  After she left, the owner remarked that he sees so much of these kinds of choices being made on the price difference of a dollar or two.  When you consider the cost of removing an impaction, that dollar or two is well spent!

I’ve been using this product for more than 20 years and have been really happy with it.  (No one is paying me, in any sense of the word,  to say so.) I’ve never been a proponent of rawhide, and more than a decade ago,when I began to understand all the complications of that product while consulting at a cancer prevention organization, I became even happier with my Nylabone choice.

I found that rawhide is not subject to regulatory oversite.  China is known to use formaldehyde as a tanning agent, soaking the hide in that toxic, carcinogenic soup; arsenic contamination has also been revealed, as has lead, and antibiotics.  Whatever other environmental impact occurred in the area the animal was raised will be in the skin, the biggest organ of any body. Even with made in USA products, there is the problem of the use of downed (so sick they can’t walk into the slaughterhouse)  in these products.  Ugh.

Nylabone’s website states, “Nylabone Chews and Toys DO NOT contain Phthalates or BPA, and they never have.” Both have negative health effects, phthalates are everywhere in plastics, are industrial pollutants and endocrine disrupters compromising reproductive systems and linked to liver cancer, they are also toxic to children; BPA, often lines (and leaches into) cans used in food products and  leads to obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

The upshot: whatever you choose to use, read your labels, keep up with environmental and FDA laws, Google or Bing your findings, and be your pet’s advocate. Let your local holistic pet supply store help you out.

3 comments
ironman994
ironman994

Please explain why the nylabone is not toxic ? Isn't the nylavone made of plastic? Isn't plastic toxic if ingested? If a dog is chewing on a nylabone isn't it digesting some of the plastic?

Gossip Dog
Gossip Dog

Excellent advice! And a great way (I find) to make puppy teething more bearable is to use socks as a play toy. They will love biting something that flips about; but make sure not to leave them alone with the socks. Its a great alternative to a rawhide chew. XOXO woof woof, Gossip Dog.

Mary Haight
Mary Haight

Yes, I had the same question mark in my head when I wrote this, and this is what I found. These products are made from inert soft thermoplastic polymer. While not edible, this polymer is also used in medical applications inside the body, for instance, valves. Research shows no cellular changes in body tissues or organs using this material and no toxic effects. It is also being used as a replacement for lead in bullets, although in that case it is coupled with other ingredients not so user friendly. My question here might be with the extrusion process--the molds are sprayed with something to allow for quick release of the product once it is set into the form of a bone or whatever. Nylabone has many different types of chew toys for different size dogs and bite strength. I have already asked them to supply processing info. When the ends my small dog chews on start to get ragged, I toss the bone.

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