Rawhide Alternatives: Safer Ways To Satisfy Your Champion Chewer

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Best For…
Overall Winner
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Powerful Chewers
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Moderate Chewers
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Gentle Chewers
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If you’ve been a dog parent for a while, you may have heard about the dangers of giving your pup rawhide treats — even though you can find rawhide products in almost any pet store. Rawhide is so popular because it’s a cheap, long-lasting chew that can keep dogs entertained for hours. But the dangers far outweigh the benefits.

The good news is there are many equally hardy chews on the market that are much safer. Which are the best rawhide alternatives for your type of chewer? We give you our top picks and some other ideas to keep your dog or puppy from chewing up your house.

Article Overview

Why Shouldn’t I Give My Dog Rawhides?

Rawhide is the inner soft hide or skin of an animal. It’s most commonly made from cows but can be made from any cleft-hoofed livestock. The hides are cleaned and cut or ground and then pressed into chewable dog treats. Many rawhide treats contain beef, chicken and other flavorings and fillers. The quality of rawhide treats for dogs can vary widely.

Blond puppy chewing on rawhideMany veterinarians warn that rawhide isn’t safe for dogs because it causes choking and blockage risks. Rawhide isn’t easily digestible, and if your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, these pieces can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract causing serious health concerns and even death.

Learn more about rawhide bones

Best Rawhide Alternatives

We’ve selected the best rawhide alternatives for various types of chewers.

Overall Winner | Powerful Chewers | Moderate Chewers | Gentle Chewers

Overall Winner: Tibetan Dog Chew Yak Cheese Himalayan Chew Review

Tibetan Dog Chew Yak Cheese Himalayan ChewsView on Amazon

It can be hard to find rawhide alternatives that don’t give off a harsh odor and are all-natural, but Himalayan yak cheese chews are an excellent option for most types of chewers. There are many on the market, but our top choice is Tibetan Dog Chew’s treats.

They’re made from yak’s milk using a method in Nepal that makes them hard and thick but non-chokable and easily digestible. They’re also all-natural and high in healthy proteins, containing only yak milk, cow milk, salt and lime juice.

Barley, our power chewer dog, loves these, and they last longer than some of the other rawhide alternatives we’ve tried. – Michelle, Canine Journal

Pros

Cons

  • Long-lasting compared to many other rawhide-free products
  • All-natural, gluten-free and grain-free
  • Odorless
  • Non-staining
  • Comes in 4 sizes
  • No complaints about them causing digestive issues
  • On the pricey side
  • A few complaints that they’re too hard, while a few complain that they don’t last long enough

Price

In addition to the following bulk ordering, you can also purchase an individual chew if you want to try it out first.

Powerful Chewers: Pet Parents Gnawtlers Review

Pet Parents Gnawtlers Elk AntlerView on Amazon

Is your dog is an aggressive chewer? Do you have a tough time finding chews that are both safe and that can satisfy your dog’s insatiable chewing habits? These Gnawtlers elk antlers could be the solution you’ve been looking for. Gnawtlers are only sourced from naturally shed antlers found in the Rocky Mountain and Heartland regions.

They’re all-natural and packed with calcium, phosphorus, manganese and zinc and contain no dyes, preservatives or contaminants. And each chew is vacuum-sealed to preserve its safety. They also make a great rawhide alternative for puppies of medium-to-large sized breeds.

This is a favorite with Barley, our super chewer dog. He can chew on it for months before we have to replace one! An elk antler is one of the best chew solutions we’ve found for dogs that tear up other bones and toys. – Michelle, Canine Journal

Pros

Cons

  • Long-lasting compared to many other rawhide-free products
  • All-natural and cruelty-free
  • Odorless
  • Non-staining
  • Comes in 4 sizes
  • On the pricey side
  • Doesn’t have much flavor
  • Some users say you must monitor use with super aggressive chewers because it can splinter

Price

Moderate Chewers: Wild Eats Water Buffalo Natural Ear Dog Chews Review

Wild Eats Water Buffalo Natural Ear Dog ChewsView on Amazon

Many pet parents rave about how much their dogs love these Wild Eats dog chews, and they make a great alternative to rawhide and overly-processed pig ears. These chews are all-natural and sourced from grass-fed, free-range water buffalo raised without any added hormones.

They’re high in protein and low in fat and contain no chemicals, preservatives or additives. They’re thin and crispy but hard and chewy and are hardy enough to satisfy moderate chewers. However, be aware that some people say they’re smelly (but not as bad as pig ears).

Pros

Cons

  • Good value
  • All-natural and grain-free
  • Higher in protein and lower in fat than pig ears
  • Free-range and sustainably sourced
  • No worries about splintering
  • Many owners say they last a while
  • Some say that they’re smelly
  • A few complaints that some pieces are small in the bag

Price

Gentle Chewers: SmartBones SmartSticks Review

SmartBones SmartSticksView on Amazon

SmartBones SmartSticks are popular rawhide-free dog chews for tons of pet parents. They’re packed with flavor and healthy ingredients. The ones we review here are peanut butter, but they also come in chicken, beef and sweet potato flavors.

These chew sticks are made of peanut butter and vegetables wrapped around a real chicken center. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins E and B12, riboflavin and more, but they’re not all-natural. They’re also a bit softer than the other products we review here, so they’re more like treats than a hard rawhide alternative.

Our dogs enjoy these, but they don’t last as long as other chews. – Michelle, Canine Journal

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable
  • Easy to digest for most dogs
  • Good for dogs with sensitive teeth and gums
  • Users say they’re not very smelly
  • Only come in one size
  • Contain artificial flavoring and coloring and some preservatives
  • Don’t last long for hearty chewers

Price

Other Rawhide Alternatives

Bully sticks (caption: Are Bully Sticks Good for Dogs?)Here are some other ideas to satisfy your chewer. Click on the links to learn more about each option.

What Are The Dangers Of Rawhide Processing?

In the video below, one dog expert describes the dangers of rawhide processing and mentions some great alternative products (many of which we review in this article).

Need Toys For Your Powerful Chewer?

Are you always looking for toys and treats that can withstand your dog’s massive desire to chew? Does he demolish every toy you buy within minutes? You can keep him satisfied regularly with a monthly subscription box tailored to heavy chewers. These boxes contain heavy-duty toys that are hard to find and built to last. And some boxes include high-quality treats to boot. Or see our article on 6 of the best indestructible toys.

Has your dog ever gotten ill from ingesting rawhide?

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets).

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

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