Petco Removes Traditional Rawhide Products from Shelves

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Petco has stopped selling traditional rawhide as the retailer introduces a new wellness initiative to help pets live their healthiest lives.

But don't worry, your chew-crazy dogs will still have options. The company has subbed out its 32 traditional rawhide products for rawhide it says is easier for dogs to digest along with other rawhide-free products. The new rawhide products are perforated, so even torn-off large pieces should be easier on your dog's stomach.

"It's still the same base product from the same sources," Whitney Miller, DVM and Petco's head of veterinary medicine, told Daily Paws. "Again, it's just through that different processing to make it safer and more digestible for the dog, and so the dog is still going to get that really exciting rawhide treat that they're used to."

Rawhide is made of dried animal skins that are leftover from the leather-making process, according to the American Kennel Club. Ideally it's supposed to be a long-lasting chew that breaks off into small pieces over time. Sometimes, however, heavy-chewing dogs can get so excited that they'll bite off large pieces that are hard to digest, Miller says.

"It's so yummy, and they eat it so fast, and, unfortunately, it can cause stomach upset. We can see GI obstructions and things that we don't want to be putting our pets at risk for," she says.

RELATED: Petco to Stop Selling Electronic Shock Collars, Encourages 'Fear'-Free Training Methods

In a news release, Petco said it's removing the rawhide chews after 71 percent of its customers reported concerns—including choking, digestibility, and ingredient origination—about rawhide in a 2019 customer survey. Similar concerns prompted a Georgia woman to sue a dog food company last year, alleging a rawhide chew caused her dog's death.

If dog parents don't want any rawhide at all, Petco has more than 100 rawhide-free products for your pup to chomp on. Otherwise, there are dozens of highly digestible rawhide chews to choose from that should still stimulate your dog mentally and physically.

"It's going to provide all of those things still for the pet, but [it's] just a safer product," Miller says.

Petco's Whole Health Challenge

Petco also announced Monday that it will kick off its three-week Whole Health challenge on April 5 to encourage pet parents to monitor—and ultimately improve—their animals' health. Pet owners who enter the challenge will be in the running to win one free year of Petco's Vital Care program.

Whole Health focuses on your pet's five health factors—physical, mental, social, home, and accessibility—that are all important to evaluate as we hopefully reach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Miller specifically touched on your pet's social health, something you might need to consider after a year of isolation.

So before you head out for the dog park for the first time in 13 months, maybe consider some refresher training or socializing. The same goes for pets who were adopted during the pandemic. They might not know anyone outside your immediate family, so they could have a harder time around other animals and people.

Regardless of your pet's health, it's time for a checkup with your veterinarian as we exit the pandemic. Plus, it might've been hard to nail down an appointment for the past few months, so you're probably due.

"Regular checkups with your veterinarian is so critical, even outside the pandemic," Miller says.