Dangers of Rawhide: What is a Safe Alternative?

Rawhide chews and bones are very popular for dogs. They come in all sorts of sizes, and they are pretty cheap to buy. Depending on the dog, a rawhide can last days or even weeks! However, rawhide is extremely dangerous. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA both discourage rawhide consumption and list it among the dangerous household products for pets (next to pesticides and cleaning chemicals). If you still use rawhide, keep reading to find out more about why you should stop – and what chewing alternatives we recommend instead 🙂

First of all, what is rawhide and what makes it so dangerous?

It’s the inner layer of cow or horse hides that has been cleaned and stripped of hair. In order to remove the hair from this layer, the hide must be soaked in chemicals, primarily sodium sulfide. It’s as toxic as it sounds. Yikes! It’s then washed and whitened with hydrogen peroxide, dried, and pressed into the treats you see in the stores (sometimes they add flavorings or coatings to make them appetizing for dogs). Other toxins, such as trace amounts of arsenic and formaldehyde have been detected in rawhide treats as well. Rawhide is classified neither as a human food nor pet food, so there are no regulations over its production. Scary!

Rawhide can be a vet bill just waiting to happen, some major concerns include:

  • Choking
  • Salmonella contamination
  • Digestive distress and internal blockage

So if rawhide is not the best option for our pets, what are some safer alternatives?

Bully sticks (they also go by other brand names) – these are dried bull pizzles. There is no choking hazard, they are digestible, and they come in all the same sizes and shapes you might expect from a rawhide.

Kongs – These are the red (and other colors) rubber  toys that you can stuff with treats and various spreads to keep your dog occupied and chewing for hours! Kongs have become a chewing staple over the years!

Frozen peanut butter or broth cubes – You can always go DIY and make your own frozen concoctions that your dog can work on for hours. These are especially great during the summer months!

Antlers – These are from elk or deer. They won’t splinter or create much odor, and they have nooks and crannies that really help get your dog’s teeth clean. Be sure to get the naturally-shed ones for extra kindness! 🙂

Hopefully your dog will fall in love with at least one of the rawhide alternatives, so that they can keep on chewing and just as importantly – you can feel good about what they’re chewing on!


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