Are Rawhide Bones Good For Dogs

Published: 20 Apr 2024
Patrick Wilson
Patrick Wilson
With over a decade of experience in the animal veterinary field, Dr. Wilson enjoys getting to know pets and their families on a personal level. He sees them as an extension of his own family. Hence, he is rewarded on a daily basis as he helps strengthen the special bond between pet owners and their beloved companions.
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It cannot be disputed that dogs, regardless of their breed, are naturally more inclined to chew than engage in any other activity. As a committed pet owner, you might wonder, “Is rawhide bad for dogs?”

Some websites claim that chewing on hides helps satisfy your canine’s urges, develop strong healthy jaws, make their breath better, and says that it is relatively safe.

However, in some instances, this product can be considered dangerous and life-threatening as this can cause choking and may cause damage to your pet’s gums. Additionally, it is difficult for your pets to digest this material and may be stuck in your pet’s throat, intestines, or esophagus which makes rawhide, selectively bad for dogs.[1]

Still, if you want to look for your own rawhide alternative, you can either consult a veterinarian that may provide medical advice, or you may continue reading as we discuss the risks and safety for you and your healthy pets.

What Is Rawhide?

Rawhide can be considered as one of the different chew treats available in the market which is made from either cow skin or horse skin.

Technically, while the outer layer of the cow and horse skins are used in leather shoes and upholstery, this chew toy is from the soft inner layer of the hide that is treated with potentially toxic chemicals (like bleach and hydrogen peroxide), dehydrated, and sometimes smoked, before being formed into different shapes or forms like rawhide chews and rawhide bones that are readily available in a pet store near you.

Other than different forms, this treat also comes in different flavors which really piques your dog’s love and interest in chewing rawhide regardless of the brand name. The answer to the question,” is rawhide bad or safe for my dog?” is covered in the rest of the paragraphs.

A Puppy Wanting To Eat Rawhide But Having Difficulty Chewing

How Are Rawhide Dog Treats Made?

As you should know by now, rawhide ingredients, excluding the chemicals involved in the process, are typically skins from cows and horses.

Countries outside the United States that produce rawhide, typically begin from the manufacturer where the rawhide undergoes a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product in preparation for transport.

As the rawhide is being processed, it is soaked in an ash-lye solution. This process removes the hair and fat from the hide. After which, the rawhide is cleaned using water with bleach or hydrogen peroxide while other countries use chemicals and preservatives like arsenic and formaldehyde.

Finally, the rawhide is left natural, having that distinct beef flavor, or infused with other artificial or natural flavors to improve its taste, others are formed into a bone and other types; this is exactly what fascinates your pet to chew on it for hours.

My Pup Enjoying His Favorite Chew Toys

Why Are Some Rawhide Treats Bad For Dogs?

Giving your dogs rawhides may not be a good idea, regardless of what your intentions are. For one, traditional rawhide treats, like rawhide bones and rawhide chew, are a major choking hazard, and giving your dog a rawhide might increase the chances of him swallowing large chunks of it and end up having surgical interventions.

Likewise, other reasons why rawhides are bad for many dogs are listed.

Bacterial Contamination

As they are not made equally, a huge concern for rawhide chews is the fact that they can be a potential host for salmonella (bacteria) contamination. Moreover, it does not only pose a great risk for your dog’s health but to yours as well. This is because bacteria can easily contaminate human food which can further lead to worse scenarios like food poisoning in humans and the like.

Distressed Digestion & Intestinal Blockage

If left unsupervised, your dog could be at risk of eating rawhide. If your dog was able to gnaw and swallow a large chunk of the rawhide that you have given, it can be very detrimental to his digestive tract as it causes intestinal obstruction.

Rawhide chews tend to swell up to four times their size in your dog’s stomach. Additionally, this kind of chew treat cannot be easily digested by your dog, which causes blockage and indigestion for your pet. Likewise, it makes it very difficult for your dog to defecate.

Symptoms of intestinal blockage include continuous vomiting, decreased energy, and inability to eat and swallow. Expensive as it sounds, the only treatment for intestinal obstruction can require emergency surgery and if left not noticed, it may lead to death.

A Dog Chewing His Bully Sticks


It is very important to look out for your dog chewing rawhides as this can become a choking hazard if large pieces are chewed off and swallowed by your pup. Most vets have reported plenty of esophageal foreign bodies in smaller dogs with rawhides.

While rawhides are used to be a long-lasting treat for dogs to break into small, shredded pieces over time, large chunks of rawhide bones can easily be a blockage to your dog’s airways and can cause serious problems if your dog swallows it accidentally. This type of issue can happen to other dogs and it is not impossible for you to put your dog at the same risk.

Tooth Damage

Rawhide chews may not be suitable as an alternative to dog chews since it is not good for your dog’s teeth, especially when you have a strong chewer or a teething puppy. Over time, your canine could tear off small pieces of the hide, and if the canine’s teeth aren’t strong enough, broken teeth are plausible.

Although many dog owners give their dog rawhides thinking that it would aid with their dental health, little do they know, that they could be giving their dog more harm than good. This might be because of the fact that rawhide treats can be too hard for your dog’s teeth and may cause a fracture while your dog chews on them.

Similarly, antlers can be too hard for your dog’s dental health. Consequently, a veterinarian would advise that you can give your dog dental chews. These dental chews are designed to scrape off the tartar from the outer layer of your dog’s teeth.

A Piece Of Bone

How To Be Certain Rawhide Is Good For Your Dog

Generally speaking, rawhides are not entirely bad for dogs. However, veterinarians say that you should be aware of the following things before treating your dog with hides.

Check The Manufacturer’s Location

When choosing hides for your dog, always make sure that you know where the rawhide came from. Some vets encountered cases of pets suffering from vomiting and diarrhea that was believed to be caused by a product purchased from locations like China where quality control is non-existent.

Hence, like many owners, you should be able to distinguish the quality of the hide as its standard is strongly influenced by the country or place of its origin. Always check the food bag to determine where the rawhide is manufactured. Also, ensure that good quality control procedures were implemented.

Decide Between Unflavored Or Flavored

You should, at all costs, avoid a rawhide with a variety of flavors even though your dog loves artificial beef flavor so much. In this manner, you will be able to prevent any specific sensitivity or allergies which can further cause diarrhea that your dog may acquire.

Size And Shape Matter

You should be very particular about the shape and size of the rawhide you give to your dog. You should choose the size appropriate to the size of your pet. For example, you don’t want to give adult dogs, like a 90- pound rottweiler, a very tiny rawhide chew toy as this may be swallowed and choke him or block his digestive tracts.

Supervise Your Dog’s Chewing

Supervising your dog’s chewing may cost you time but it would cut the risk of your dog having health-threatening issues from what he eats.

A Strong Chewer

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I give my dog instead of rawhide?

Instead of giving your dog rawhide, you may resort to different rawhide alternatives like cooked or raw bones, animal ears, bully sticks, dental chew treat, or non-edible chew toys. Basically, you can give your dog anything to chew on, as alternatives, for as much as it does not cause any dental damage, just to satisfy your dog’s natural instinct of chewing.

How many rawhides can a dog have in a day?

Your dog can have two to three rawhides in a day as treat, as long as you have complete supervision over your dog to prevent him from swallowing the hide. This will keep your dog busy and prevent him from chewing on something that is not supposed to be chewed. If accidentally, your dog ingests the rawhide, seek immediate medical help from a vet.

What age can puppies have rawhide?

Puppies about six months can have rawhide. Its benefits include the removal of plaque and tartar from their mouth. For safety reasons, puppies younger than six months should not be given a rawhide to chew on as their jaw is not fully developed yet.

What is safe for dogs to chew on?

Dogs love to chew, therefore, your dog can chew on everything, as long as it does not pose dangers and risks for you and your pet. Aside from digestible chew toys like animal ears, bully sticks, and dental chew treat that are available in a pet store. You can also resort to non-edible chew toys that are suited for long-lasting chews of your pet dog.

Likewise, you can give small amounts of human foods for your pup to chew on for as long as it also does not disrupt the balanced diet that your pooch has. If you wish to widen your knowledge about chew toys, you can always spend a day with your canines’ vet.


As we bring this to a close, it is at your own discretion to give the answer to the question, “Is rawhide bad for your dog?” However, you must bear in mind that you do not need to put your canine’s health at risk, just to satisfy his urge to do what your dog loves.

But if you want to, make sure to weigh the risks and benefits of giving rawhides according to your pet’s chewing needs and behaviors. If you’re still quite unsure about the right alternatives, you can always talk to your vet and gain more insights regarding the topic.

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