Rawhide Risks and Alternatives for Your Dog

Rawhide alternatives for dogs.

As all pet owners know, dogs love to chew! Chewing is a natural instinct in dogs, as evidenced by puppies’ tendency to chomp down on anything from shoes, to couch cushions, to chair legs.

To prevent our furry friends from chewing on these undesirable objects, dog owners commonly toss their pets a rawhide bone and call it a day. In general, dogs that chew on bones or toys regularly have less plaque and tartar build-up on their teeth. However, some pet owners have begun to consider the risks associated with chewing on rawhides.

Here are some of the risks of chewing on rawhide as well as some alternatives to rawhide chews.

Risks Associated with Rawhide Chews


After chewing on rawhide for a while, it becomes stringy and soft. Dogs often tear off small pieces from the rawhide that can become lodged in their throats, blocking the airway and tearing the lining of the esophagus. Look for drooling, panicking, pawing at the mouth, or not being able to swallow food or water as signs of choking. Choking is a life-threatening emergency and should be treated immediately if it occurs.


In order to form the cow or horse hides into a chewy treat, chemicals must be added to the rawhide. Therefore, rawhide chews can contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals. Salmonella and E. coli contamination is also possible in both humans and pets interacting with rawhide.

Digestive Irritation

If your dog does swallow rawhide, they may experience an allergic reaction to the rawhide or other manufacturing substances used. The rawhide may swell up in the stomach and lead to diarrhea, vomiting, or pancreatitis. Rawhide is not digestible, so keep your pup’s tummy happy and make sure they don’t swallow it!

Alternatives to Rawhide

Dental Chews and Treats

Dental chews provide the same benefits to dogs’ teeth that rawhide chews do, but without the chemicals and risks! Your furry friend will love chewing on these healthy treats.


Kongs are rubber toys that you can stuff with treats and spreads to satisfy your dog’s itch to chew. They are very durable, which lowers the risk of choking or indigestion.

Frozen Peanut Butter

Frozen peanut butter is a safe, inexpensive, and easy DIY treat for pups with more of a sweet tooth. They make for a great summer day snack and will keep your dog chewing for a while! Try adding bananas and water to your popsicles for an even more delectable dessert.

If you do decide to continue giving your dog rawhide, ask your vet about how much is safe to give your dog. Once the rawhide chew gets small enough for your dog to swallow whole, take it away to minimize the risk of choking. If you choose to eliminate rawhide chews from your dog’s diet, be sure to try the alternatives mentioned above. We’re sure your dog will love gnawing on them!

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