Puppies are notoriously aggressive chewers, but some dogs never grow out of chewing. If you want to save your shoes or furniture from untimely destruction—especially if you have to leave your pet unattended!—you may have offered rawhide treats to help.
But could you be unknowingly putting your dog in danger? We talked to Los Angeles-based holistic veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney about the dangers of feeding rawhides, and rounded up some safe alternatives. These include (see end of post for more detail):
- Honest Kitchen Beams
- Bully Sticks
- KONG toys
- Himalayan Dog Chew
- Naturally Shed Antlers
Dog-safe bones and some other natural chews are great, too, but be sure to give them under supervision. That’s where a trusted pet sitter or dog walker can really help.
Why are Rawhides Dangerous for Dogs?
Rawhides are made from the inner layer of cow or horse hides (source). By the time they make it to the store, they are clean, usually white or brown, hard chews.
But what goes into making these chews? Pet nutrition blogger Rodney Habib describes the chemical-laden manufacturing process used for preserving and cleaning the hides. Hydrogen peroxide and bleach are commonly used, as well as artificial colors and preservatives like sodium benzoate.
To avoid chemical byproducts, it’s important to do some research. Read labels or even call the manufacturer to ask what preservatives they used.
“Chewing on a treat does not equal a toothbrush,” Dr. Mahaney says. “Ideally, you should be brushing daily.”
As mentioned above, there are a number of safe, healthy alternatives to rawhides. We recommend giving these under supervision, due to the choking hazard for any chew.
1. Honest Kitchen Beams
Pure Icelandic fish tails. Stinky, but dogs love them.
2. Bully Sticks
Softer than rawhide, and irresistible to most dogs we know.
An all-natural, vitamin A-packed, surprisingly popular dog treat.
4. KONG toys
Stuffable, rubber classic that keeps pups busy.
Seriously tough stuff. Plus, you know, comes in bacon flavor.
Digestible and seemingly delicious, based on our dogs’ reactions.
Dental chews that dogs can digest easily.
8. Himalayan Dog Chew
Our dogs are insane for this dehydrated yak cheese.
9. Naturally Shed Antlers
These are expensive but high-quality options that give dogs a chewing challenge.
The Bottom Line
Redirecting your dog’s natural tendency to chew by offering a tasty treat can save your furniture or shoes. Just make sure you know how your chews are being processed. Always monitor your dog with any chew toy, and take and throw away the small pieces as he gets to the end of the chew to prevent choking.
Final pro tip: don’t give chews unsupervised. A pet sitter or drop-in visitor can help if your dog needs a chew fix during the day!
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may make a small commission should you decide to buy a product through one of the links.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Top image via Flickr/Shane Adams
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