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What is Rawhide, and Why is it Bad for Dogs?

Image showing the risks of rawhide for dogs

In the world of dog treats, rawhide has long been a popular choice among pet owners. However, recent concerns have arisen regarding its safety and potential health risks for our beloved canine companions. In this blog post, we delve into the world of rawhide, exploring what it is and why it may not be the best option for your dog's health and well-being.

Understanding Rawhide

Rawhide is made from the inner layer of cow or horse hides. These hides are cleaned, processed, and then shaped into various forms such as bones, chips, or rolls. Rawhide chews are often marketed as dental treats, claiming to help clean teeth and provide hours of chewing entertainment for dogs.

image of rawhide dog chews

The Risks of Rawhide

While rawhide chews may seem like a harmless indulgence for your furry friend, they come with a range of potential risks that pet owners should be aware of:

  1. Choking Hazard: Rawhide chews can become soft and pliable as dogs chew on them, leading to the risk of swallowing large pieces that can cause choking or gastrointestinal blockages.

  2. Digestive Issues: The ingestion of rawhide can lead to digestive problems such as stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and even intestinal blockages if large pieces are swallowed and cannot be passed through the digestive tract.

  3. Chemical Exposure: Rawhide chews are often treated with various chemicals during processing to improve their appearance and durability. These chemicals, including bleach and other preservatives, can be harmful to dogs if ingested.

  4. Potential Contamination: Due to the nature of the manufacturing process, rawhide chews can also be contaminated with bacteria, mold, and other pathogens, posing additional health risks to dogs.

Safer Alternatives to Rawhide

Fortunately, there are plenty of safe and healthy alternatives to rawhide chews that you can offer your dog:

image of rawhide vs natural

  1. Natural Chews: Opt for natural chews made from ingredients such as beef tendons, bully sticks, or dehydrated fruits and vegetables. These options are free from harmful chemicals and additives and are generally safer for your dog to chew on.

  2. Dental Chews: Look for dental chews specifically designed to promote oral health and clean your dog's teeth. Choose products that are vet-approved and made from high-quality ingredients.

  3. Edible Bones: Consider offering your dog edible bones such as raw bones from the butcher or specially formulated dental bones made from natural ingredients. Always supervise your dog while they chew on bones to prevent any accidents or injuries.


dog holding a rawhide chew

While rawhide chews may be a familiar sight in pet stores, it's essential to weigh the potential risks against the perceived benefits. As responsible pet owners, we want to prioritise our dog's health and safety above all else. By opting for safer alternatives to rawhide, you can provide your furry friend with the joy of chewing without compromising their well-being.

Remember, when it comes to your dog's health, knowledge is power. Stay informed, choose wisely, and keep your canine companion safe and happy for years to come!


1. Are all rawhide chews unsafe for dogs?

While not all rawhide chews are necessarily unsafe, they pose risks due to their potential to cause choking, digestive issues, and exposure to harmful chemicals. It's essential to carefully evaluate the quality and sourcing of rawhide products before offering them to your dog.

2. How can I tell if a rawhide chew is safe for my dog?

Look for rawhide chews that are sourced from reputable manufacturers and made from high-quality, natural ingredients. Avoid products with added chemicals, preservatives, or artificial flavors. Always supervise your dog while they chew on rawhide to ensure their safety.

3. Are there any alternatives to rawhide chews?

Yes, there are plenty of safe alternatives to rawhide chews available on the market. Consider options such as natural chews made from beef tendons or bully sticks, dental chews designed to promote oral health, and edible bones made from natural ingredients.

an assortment of natural dog treats

4. Can rawhide chews help clean my dog's teeth?

While some rawhide chews are marketed as dental treats, their effectiveness in cleaning teeth is debatable. Chewing on rawhide may help reduce plaque and tartar buildup to some extent, but it's not a substitute for regular dental care, such as brushing your dog's teeth or providing veterinarian-approved dental chews.

5. What should I do if my dog swallows a large piece of rawhide?

If your dog swallows a large piece of rawhide or experiences any symptoms of choking or gastrointestinal distress, seek immediate veterinary attention. It's crucial to address potential blockages or other health issues as soon as possible to ensure your dog's well-being.

6. How should I store rawhide chews?

Store rawhide chews in a cool, dry place away from moisture and humidity to prevent them from becoming soft and moldy. Keep them out of reach of your dog when not in use to avoid accidental ingestion or over consumption.

7. Are there any risks associated with giving my dog other types of chews?

While other types of chews, such as bones or dental treats, can also pose risks if not used properly, they may be safer alternatives to rawhide for some dogs. Always supervise your dog while they chew and monitor their chewing habits to prevent accidents or injuries.

8. How often should I give my dog chews?

The frequency of giving your dog chews depends on their individual chewing habits, dental health, and dietary needs. It's essential to offer chews in moderation and monitor your dog's response to ensure they can safely enjoy them without any adverse effects.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica Yardley

Owner - Wag & Whistle

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