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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.
- Why Shouldn’t I Give My Dog Rawhides?
- Best Rawhide Alternatives
- What Are My Other Options?
- The Dangers Of Rawhide Processing (Video)
- Need Toys For Your Powerful Chewer?
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.
Many 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.
We’ve selected the best rawhide alternatives for various types of chewers.
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
In addition to the following bulk ordering, you can also purchase an individual chew if you want to try it out first.
- for small dogs (2 lbs of chews)
- for medium dogs (2 lbs of chews)
- for large dogs (1 lb of chews)
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
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).
- for 20-count
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
- for 5-count
- for 12-count
- for 25-count
- Full-size carrots (raw or frozen)
- Bully sticks
- Dental chews
- Raw bones (see which bones are safe)
- Frozen Kongs
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).
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?
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