Rawhide Treats For Dogs Are They Dangerous
Rawhide Treats For Dogs Are They Dangerous

Rawhide Treats for Dogs: Uncovering the Risks and Safe Alternatives

When we consider treats for our canine friends, rawhide chews often come to mind.

These popular snacks are heavily marketed and widely available, but the question of their safety is a common concern among dog owners.

Rawhide treats are made from the inner layer of cow or horse hides, which are cleaned, cut, and sometimes flavored to make them appealing to dogs.

They’re known to satisfy a dog’s natural urge to chew and can provide benefits such as dental health improvement through the reduction of plaque and tartar.

However, not all rawhide treats are created equal, and understanding the risks associated with them is essential.

For instance, while many dogs love to gnaw on rawhide, the treat can pose choking hazards or cause digestive blockages if they swallow large, unchewed pieces.

Additionally, the production process of some rawhide treats involves chemicals and preservatives that may not be healthy for all dogs, especially those with sensitive stomachs or allergies.

We, as responsible pet owners, must evaluate the quality and suitability of rawhide treats for our individual dogs.

It’s important to observe our dogs while they’re chewing rawhide and to choose high-quality products from reputable sources.

By being informed and attentive, we can help ensure that our furry friends enjoy their treats safely.

Understanding Rawhide

Before diving into the specifics, it’s important for us to recognize that rawhide is a widely used dog chew that comes from the leather industry and is made from the inner layer of cow or horse hides.

What is Rawhide

Rawhide is the byproduct of the leather industry that we often utilize as chews for our dogs.

Specifically, it’s derived from the inner layer of the hide of animals such as cows and horses.

This material is valued because it’s tough and durable, making it a long-lasting treat that can satisfy our dogs’ natural urge to chew.

Rawhide Production Process

The production process of rawhide involves several steps:

  1. Separation of Layers: Firstly, the inner layer of a hide is separated from the outer layer.
  2. Cleaning: The rawhide is then thoroughly cleaned to remove any flesh and fat.
  3. Soaking: After cleaning, it’s soaked in a solution to preserve it, which could involve the use of chemicals.
  4. Shaping: Once preserved, the rawhide is cut and shaped into various sizes suitable for dog chews.
  5. Drying: The final step is drying the rawhide, which drastically reduces its moisture content and makes it hard.

Throughout this process, manufacturers may sometimes use glue to hold rawhide pieces together or add flavoring.

It takes place in tanneries, and while some steps may vary, the fundamental stages remain consistent.

Health Risks and Concerns

When we choose treats for our beloved pets, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks.

Let’s explore specific concerns associated with rawhide chews for dogs, keeping their well-being paramount.

Choking Hazards

Rawhide treats can pose significant choking hazards.

Pieces can break off during chewing, and if a chunk of rawhide becomes lodged in a dog’s esophagus or throat, it can impede breathing.

Immediate veterinary attention is crucial to address this emergency.

Digestive Blockages

If swallowed, large pieces of rawhide can lead to digestive blockages in dogs, causing intestinal obstruction.

Symptoms like vomiting, lack of appetite, or discomfort are telltale signs.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the obstruction from the digestive tract.

Contamination Risks

Rawhide chews carry the risk of contamination with harmful bacteria such as salmonella or E.


Ingestion can result in symptoms like diarrhea, posing health risks not just to our dogs but also to us through contact.

It’s essential to handle these treats with care and observe hygiene practices to minimize this risk.

Safe Chewing Practices

In our quest to keep our pups happy and healthy, chew treats like rawhide can be a great tool when used safely.

Let’s ensure we’re promoting good chewing habits and protecting our furry friends.

Choosing the Right Size

Size matters when it comes to selecting dog chews.

If we choose one that’s too small, we run the risk of choking hazards, especially for our larger canine companions.

We aim to pick a chew that’s big enough so they can’t swallow it whole but appropriate for their jaws and teeth to handle.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • For small breeds: Chews should be larger than their mouth capacity to prevent swallowing.
  • For large breeds: Ensure the chews are substantial enough to provide lasting enjoyment without breaking apart too easily.

Supervision is Key

No matter the chewing style of our beloved dogs, supervision is crucial.

By keeping an eye on them while they enjoy their rawhide, we can intervene if pieces break off that are too large or if they are struggling.

Plus, it gives us a chance to observe their enjoyment and ensure their safety.

  • During chewing sessions, stay alert for any changes in their chewing patterns or signs of distress.
  • Regular check-ups with the veterinarian can help identify any dental issues that could affect what types of chews are suitable for our dogs.

By paying attention to these details, we provide a safer chewing experience that considers both the pleasure and wellbeing of our pets.

Alternatives to Rawhide

When we consider the health and enjoyment of our dogs, it’s important to look for rawhide alternatives that are both safe and satisfying for their chewing needs.

Natural Chews

Antlers: Antlers are a durable choice for dogs that love to chew.

Deer antlers are cleaned and treated to be safe for dogs, and their hard texture makes them excellent for dental health.

Bully Sticks: These are a digestible and nutritious alternative to rawhide.

Bully sticks are made from 100% beef muscle, offering a rich source of protein and can be a longer-lasting treat for your dog to enjoy.

Synthetic Options

Dental Chews: Various synthetic dental chews are designed to promote oral health while providing an engaging activity for your dog.

They come in different shapes and sizes to suit every breed.

Sweet Potato Chews: As a vegetable-based option, sweet potato chews can be a great alternative, providing a similar texture to rawhide with the added benefits of being rich in vitamins.

DIY Treats

Carrot Sticks: Easy to prepare at home, carrots are an inexpensive and healthy snack for dogs.

They’re crunchy, which dogs tend to enjoy, and good for their teeth.

By considering these safer and healthier options for our furry friends, we can keep them entertained and take care of their well-being at the same time.

Rawhide’s Impact on Dental Health

When we consider rawhide chews for our furry friends, we focus on how they interact with dental health, specifically in managing plaque and tartar.

Plaque and Tartar Control

Rawhide chews are a popular choice for plaque and tartar control in dogs.

As our dogs chew on these treats, the mechanical action helps to reduce the buildup of plaque.

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth, and if left unchecked, it can harden into tartar.

This tartar buildup can lead to serious dental issues.

Some rawhide chews also contain enzymes that can further help to break down plaque before it turns into tartar.

Dentist’s Perspective

From a veterinarian’s perspective, while rawhides can indeed serve a role in promoting oral health, it’s important to choose them wisely.

Not all rawhides are created equal, and some may cause more harm than good.

High-quality, digestible rawhides can aid in scraping away soft plaque deposits on the teeth surfaces, reducing the risk of tartar build-up, and in turn, helping to maintain overall dental health.

It’s crucial to consult with our veterinarians to find the most suitable type of rawhide for our dogs, considering factors such as size, digestibility, and the dog’s individual chewing habits.