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With so many choices on the market, it can be difficult for the average pet parent to determine what type of chew is best for their dog. Rawhide is a tried and true classic, but there are also many different rawhide alternatives to choose from.
Collagen sticks are quickly rising in popularity as an alternative to rawhide, but they share many of the same characteristics. Despite their similarities, they do have a few differences to keep in mind while shopping for your canine companion.
What are the Differences Between Collagen Sticks and Rawhide?
Chewing is a healthy activity that keeps your dog’s mind and body active. Plus, it’s a great way to keep your dog busy and out of trouble when you aren’t able to actively entertain him.
Like many activities, chewing is not without risk, so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of the products you give to your dog.
Some owners prefer to give their dogs collagen sticks, while others prefer rawhide. There are also plenty of owners who give both. Here are a few important points to consider when deciding which chew is best for your dog.
Although both collagen sticks and rawhide may be made from any type of protein, beef is the most common choice.
As single ingredient products, both chews are a great choice for dogs prone to food allergies or sensitivities. Neither are made with any grains, soy, or gluten, so you won’t need to worry unless your dog is sensitive to beef.
In fact, both collagen sticks and rawhide are made from the same part of the animal: the skin.
However, they are made from different parts of the skin. Manufacturers use the whole hide to produce rawhide and only the inner layer for collagen sticks.
Generally, rawhide is a byproduct of the leather industry, which means that less reputable manufacturers may use harsh chemicals like bleach or formaldehyde to clean and process the hides.
Since collagen sticks are produced only for the pet industry, they typically undergo more natural processing techniques.
As you might guess, there is some risk in giving your pet a chew that has been processed with harsh chemicals. In extreme cases, the exposure could be fatal, but some degree of digestive upset is more likely.
Since collagen sticks usually undergo a less intensive manufacturing process, they tend to have a more natural flavor than most rawhide chews. For some dogs, this may be more appealing.
However, rawhide chews tend to have more variety in terms of flavor. Many manufacturers add flavor by basting or smoking the hides. This can be accomplished with either natural or artificial ingredients, depending on the brand in question.
Like humans, dogs have different preferences, so what one dog likes may not appeal to another. If you have a picky pooch, it may be necessary to try a few different chews to find the one that he or she likes best.
Despite their similarity in terms of source, collagen sticks are generally more digestible than rawhide. This is due to the use of only the soft inner layer of skin as well as the more simplified production process.
In general, rawhide is not considered to be a highly digestible chew. Unlike bully sticks, it does not break down in the digestive system quickly.
Low digestibility can potentially put the dog at risk of developing an intestinal blockage. If a blockage does occur, immediate veterinary attention is required to save the dog’s life. Surgery to remove an intestinal blockage is usually quite expensive as well.
This does not mean that it is unsafe to give your dog rawhide or collagen sticks.
It simply means that you need to be careful to make sure your dog is chewing properly and not swallowing large pieces of his chew.
Both rawhide and collagen sticks are long lasting chews that will keep your dog busy for some time. The exact amount of time it takes to consume a whole chew will depend on your dog’s chewing abilities and the size and shape of the chew given.
Obviously, larger or braided chews will last longer than thin or narrow pieces.
To prevent your dog from swallowing large pieces of chew, it’s recommended to give chews on the larger side. However, smaller dogs may struggle with big chews and must be given something more size appropriate.
Some dogs may also choose to chew for short sessions and return to their rawhide or collagen stick later.
It’s important to monitor how long your dog has been working on a chew as most manufacturers recommend throwing the chew away after a few days to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Although collagen chews are not an inexpensive product, they are often priced similarly to high quality rawhide chews, especially those produced in the United States.
Rawhide has a reputation for being a cheap chew, but high quality products do demand a higher price, so be prepared to pay a bit more for quality.
Cheap rawhide is often produced abroad in countries with lower production standards, resulting in a low quality and sometimes unsafe product.
Simply put, when it comes to both collagen sticks and high quality rawhide, you can expect to pay a bit more if you want to prioritize your dog’s comfort and safety.
No matter what type of chew you decide to give your dog, supervision is key to a safe chewing session.
The two biggest risks your dog faces during a chew session are choking and intestinal blockages. Both can be reduced by monitoring your dog and taking away the chew if he chews it down to a size that he may attempt to swallow whole.
If your dog is a gulper, you may also want to opt for a larger chew to discourage him from trying to swallow it whole.
It’s also important to note that some dogs have a more sensitive stomach and may experience digestive problems with any new type of chew.
For more sensitive pups, it may be recommended to limit chewing sessions or introduce the chew over a period of several sessions.
Remember, your dog’s safety is in your hands, so it’s important to make smart decisions about what type and size of chew you offer him.