Why You Should Avoid Rawhide for Dogs

Phoebe Cooper · Jan 19, 2024 · All

Author: Natalie Szymiczek

Dogs have the instinct to chew: it's a natural behavior that helps them explore, play, and alleviate teething discomfort. It also serves as a stress-relieving activity that promotes dental health and relaxation. For years, rawhide has been a go-to chew for our furry friends, but as recommendations evolve, so does the confusion surrounding its safety.

In this blog, we'll explain why most veterinarians recommend steering clear of rawhide, and what you can safely give your dog instead.

What is Rawhide?

Rawhide is a type of chew made from the tough inner layer of cow or horse hides - these are considered the leftovers created by the leather industry. After the hides are soaked in a salt brine, cleaned, and cut, they undergo a process of shaping and drying. Manufacturers commonly add flavoring from beef, pork, chicken, or liver to make them tastier for dogs. It’s important to note that not all rawhide is created equally. Most are manufactured in China, and then shipped to tanneries around the world. There are concerns about potential hazards associated with rawhide, including choking, digestive issues, and the use of chemicals in processing.

Did the Rules Around Rawhide Change?

The recommendations and perspectives on rawhide for dogs have evolved over time. If you had a dog as a child, you probably remember them chewing on rawhide bones - this was the norm a few decades ago. However, concerns have arisen regarding the potential risks associated with it.

While it's not a universal change in rules, per se, there has been a shift in awareness. Many pet owners and professionals now weigh the potential risks of rawhide against its benefits and consider alternative chew options that might offer similar advantages without the associated concerns. As a result, the use of rawhide for dogs has decreased, with many pet owners choosing rawhide alternatives instead.

Why Rawhide Can Be Dangerous for Dogs

Rawhide can pose various risks to dogs:

  • Choking and Blockages:When dogs chew on rawhide, it breaks apart into smaller pieces or chunks, which increases the risk of choking or swallowing larger chunks. These chunks can cause blockages in the digestive tract, leading to serious issues requiring surgical intervention. In addition, some dogs might have difficulty digesting rawhide, leading to gastrointestinal problems such as upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • Chemicals and Contaminants:Some rawhide products might contain chemicals used during processing, like bleach or other substances that could potentially be harmful to dogs. During the manufacturing process, the rawhide may also be contaminated with viruses like salmonella or E. coli, which can make your dog sick.
  • Rawhide Allergies:Some dogs are allergic to rawhide. If your dog has a rawhide allergy and chews on rawhide, they may get a runny nose and eyes, itchy or flaky skin, loss of hair from the coat, hives, ear infections, inflamed paws, or constantly lick and chew their paws.
  • Quality and Sourcing:The quality of rawhide can vary significantly. Lower-quality rawhide might splinter or contain additives that can be detrimental to a dog's health.

These risks have led some veterinarians and experts to advise caution or avoidance when it comes to giving rawhide to dogs, especially for those prone to aggressive chewing or with a history of digestive issues. Choosing high-quality, appropriately sized rawhide and supervising your dog while they chew can help mitigate some of these risks. However, many pet owners opt for safer alternative chew options.

The Best Rawhide Alternatives for Dogs

The great news is that there are plenty of healthy and safe rawhide alternatives that will provide just as much (if not more) entertainment!

  • Bully sticks are natural chews made from beef pizzle, providing dogs with a protein-rich, long-lasting chew that promotes dental health and satisfies their instinct to chew. Bully sticks come in a variety of sizes for all types of dogs.
  • Trachea chews are another great rawhide alternative. Trachea is a natural, high-protein chew derived from beef airways, providing a flavorful, durable, and easily digestible option for dogs.
  • Collagen is long-lasting and promotes hip & joint health by providing essential support to connective tissues. It aids in maintaining flexibility and reducing joint discomfort.

Make sure to check out Natural Farm’s online store to learn more about our premium selection of dog bones, chews, and other delicious treats!