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Holy Cow Hold the Hooves!

By March 16, 2012 No Comments

Lately I’ve seen an increasing number of cow hooves dropped off with pampered pooches being left to board at Noah’s Ark.

Several months ago I wrote about using caution with rawhide in “My Beef with Rawhide”, but I’ve seen enough of these hooves lately in the office, that I thought it might be time to mention the hazards of hooves as well.

In discussing rawhide, we cited the heavy use of toxic chemicals used to get them bleached and to market. I also warned you that it is extremely difficult to find rawhide manufactured in the United States. primarily they are manufactured in Mexico and China – countries with far more lax environmental regulations.

The same is true of hooves – you need to know where they were processed into a retail item. If you’re purchasing them in a pet store or at Walmart, chances are they’re processed in China.

The more immediate danger when using hooves as a chew treat for dogs is how hard and undigestible they are. During the 32 years I’ve been practicing veterinary medicine I’ve surgically removed pieces and shards of cow hooves countless times. Not only do we get intestinal blockages, but I’ve even seen intestines being perforated by sharp pieces.

Many years ago Dee, whose dobermans you see in our front office, had a favorite doberman Yoli nearly die from a perforated intestine brought on by a hoof shard— before I was her veterinarian.

Why risk it? I’d advise you let your dogs chew on raw beef or bison femur bones – we have an assortment of sizes available at Noah’s Ark. We also have bully sticks, they don’t last as long as marrow bones, but they’re quite digestible. The great thing about regularly letting your dogs chew marrow bones is that it really stretches the time needed between dental cleanings.