Is Rawhide Bad for Dogs?

We independently research our recommended products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our links.

We want the best for our pets, and that includes giving them the best treats to chew on.

But we know that we’re not the only ones wondering, “is rawhide bad for dogs?

Dogs love to chew, and whether it’s your tennis shoes or a pair of slippers, they’ll always find something to sink their teeth into.

Luckily, chewing has some great benefits. From stress relief to maintaining healthy gums and teeth, chewing is a great way to keep them occupied.

Rawhide treats have become increasingly popular for this purpose and seem to be a common choice for pet owners and their dogs.

You might have heard of the countless benefits, but is rawhide safe for dogs?

Here’s everything you need to know about rawhide, as well as some healthy alternatives.

What is Rawhide?

is rawhide bad for dogs

What is rawhide? In simplest terms, rawhide is the appetizing alternative to a chew toy.

Rawhide has been designed to help dogs with chewing but is also a great way to get your dog away from shoes or whatever else they like to vandalize.

Rawhide can come in a range of different treats, and you can even get varieties of rawhide for puppies.

Rawhide treats are made from the inner layer of cow or horse hides.

The hides are thoroughly cleaned before being cut or ground. The meat is pressed into different shapes and sizes and made into a chewable dog treat.

To make a rawhide dog treat more tempting for dogs, some contain added flavorings.

The ingredients should always be clearly labeled on the packaging, so you can always check for added flavors.

The Benefits of Rawhide

All dogs need to chew, and this action has a number of benefits for your pup.

It can help relieve anxiety and provide stimulation. Chewing also helps = keep jaws strong, teeth clean, and their breath a bit fresher.

Chewing regularly on rawhide can prevent the build-up of tartar and plaque on teeth.

What Is the Difference Between Yellow and White Rawhide?

You may have noticed that there is yellow or white rawhide. The difference between them is in the layers of skin. White rawhide is the second layer of skin. It is fully digestible.

The yellow layer is the top layer and is more like leather. It requires a chemical process to soften it before turning it into a chew for your dog. The yellow rawhide is typically cheaper and not naturally digestible.

Does Rawhide Dissolve in the Stomach?

No. Rawhide does not dissolve in your dog’s stomach. The rawhide can actually begin to swell up.

Since it is far from being broken down inside their stomach, the rawhide is forced out of your dog and passes as the same large piece they swallowed. This can put your dog at risk for a bowel blockage.

A large piece of rawhide may begin to pass within 24 hours. However, if any kind of problem arises in the dog’s digestive tract, it could take days and can turn into a veterinary emergency.

Is Rawhide Safe for Dogs?

The biggest risks that come with giving dogs rawhide bones are the chance of choking and blockage. These happen to be more significant risks than contamination or digestive irritation as well.

When your dog chews rawhide, there’s a good chance they will swallow larger chunks or pieces. Some can lodge themselves in the dog’s esophagus or get stuck in different parts of their digestive tract.

Choking and Intestinal Blockage

It is important to remember that when rawhide has been chewed and slobbered on, it can become very soft and gooey. When this occurs, your dog may be able to chew off sections of the rawhide dog treat, which could then become a choking hazard.

Always supervise your dog when he’s chewing rawhide or gnawing on any dog treat, for that matter.

In most cases, if the hide is accidentally eaten, it will pass through the digestive system — but swallowing large chunks of it can cause intestinal blockage and problems with digestibility.

This means that it’s too large to digest and therefore becomes lodged in the intestinal tract, needing surgery to remove it.

However, there are ways to minimize this risk:

  • Make sure the rawhide is large enough that it can’t fully fit in your dog’s mouth and be accidentally swallowed
  • Always supervise your dog during chew sessions
  • Keep two rawhide treats on hand, so you can swap the soft chew with the harder one and alternate the two
  • Replace the chew once it is small enough to fit in their mouth


As well as choking risks, there is a risk of contamination with rawhide.

Similar to pet toys, these treats can contain small traces of toxic chemicals: either from packaging or from any added preservatives.

It’s also possible for rawhide to be contaminated with salmonella or E-Coli: this could also cause a risk for humans if they are in contact with the bacteria.

Lastly, owners should always be mindful of digestive irritation.

All dogs are different, and if your dog has a sensitive digestive system, it is better to stay away from rawhide.

Some dogs may be allergic or sensitive to the chemicals or substances within rawhide, which can cause diarrhea or bowel irritation.

You can find more details about rawhide in this video:

What Determines the Safety of a Rawhide Chew for Dogs?

There are many choices when it comes to the right dog chews. Rawhides remain a favorite for some, but their overall safety really depends on a few factors. Your dog’s chewing style is a prime example.

A smaller dog like a chihuahua will be considered a soft chewer compared to a much larger dog like a rottweiler or husky.

Age will also play a role. Young puppies and senior dogs have softer mouths. The dog’s chewing style changes over time, with age. So, you need to adjust their food and treats accordingly.

What Do You Do If Your Dog Starts Choking On Rawhide?

If your dog is choking, try to look and see what is causing it. If you can see a solid object in the back of their throat, then have one person hold their mouth open while another carefully reaches in to remove the object.

Here is a video detailing the best way to help a choking dog.

What Are the Best Rawhide Bone Alternatives?

If you are concerned with the risks associated with rawhide dog chews but still want to provide your dog with chewable treats, it’s worth considering the following:

  • Carrots! – Simple, healthy, and easy to find, carrots are a great source of fiber, B vitamins, and potassium. Dogs often enjoy the sweet taste of carrots, and a larger-sized carrot can keep puppies occupied for up to half an hour. If you choose carrots as your alternative, make sure you find organic brands to minimize the risk of pesticide residue.
  • Crocodile Dog Bones – These bones are known to provide a great source of omega 3. They’re sourced from Australia and are free from additives and preservatives. These bones are fully digestible, so there is a limited risk of intestinal blockage.
  • Himalayan Dog Chews – Made from hardened cheese from cow or yak milk, these treats are designed to be held in the mouth without breaking down for extended intervals of time. They are preservative-free, fully digestible, and very flavorsome!
  • Bully Sticks – These are always a favorite non-rawhide treat because they are not made with chemical additives or preservatives. They are also long-lasting but do have a strong odor.
  • Salmon Skin Bones -Salmon skin bones or fish skin may be a great alternative to rawhide, and other dog chews if your dog has allergies or is sensitive to other proteins. They are good for your dog’s coat. Since this is more of a jerky option, you want to make sure your dog chews it rather than swallows it, or it can pose a choking hazard.
  • Antlers – Deer or elk antlers are good sources of zinc, calcium, potassium, and manganese. They don’t have a strong odor and are not greasy like other dog chews. They are super hard, though, so if you have an aggressive chewer, they could fracture a dog’s tooth.

Best Rawhide Alternatives

1. ChewMax Roasted Rib Bones

ChewMax Roasted Rib Bones

A slow-roasted rib bone like the ChewMax Roasted Rib Bones are completely digestible and are rawhide-free. They are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, including iron and calcium.

These rib bones encourage positive chewing behavior and can help alleviate boredom. They are free from chemicals and artificial additives.

2. Himalayan Mixed Dog Chew

Himalayan Mixed Dog Chew

These Himalayan dog chews contain only natural ingredients, including yak and cow milk, salt, and lime juice. They are a long-lasting treat suitable for even your more aggressive chewer.

They promote healthy teeth and gums and don’t have a pungent or offensive odor like other dog treats usually have. Himalayan dog chews are also all-natural, contain no artificial flavors or colors, and are corn, grain, and lactose-free.

3. Downtown Pet Supply Bully Sticks

Downtown Pet Supply Bully Sticks

Downtown Bully Sticks are made with 100% real beef. They are packed full of protein and can scrape tartar and plaque away from your dog’s teeth. Bully sticks are made to last.

Since there are no bones, they won’t splinter like other dog treats, making them a much safer alternative to rawhide bones.

These are also bigger and thicker, so they are suitable for larger dogs and more aggressive chewers.

4. Icelandic+ All-Natural Dog Chew Treats, Lamb Horn

Icelandic+ All-Natural Dog Chew Treats, Lamb Horn

This Icelandic+ all-natural chew treat is made from 100% pure Icelandic+ lamb horn and marrow. It is packed full of nutrients, vitamins, calcium, and protein your dog needs.

Since it is made from keratin and not bone, it is safe for your dog and long-lasting. They are made with no additives, fillers, or preservatives.

 The Verdict

Although rawhide is very popular amongst dog owners, it is always best to research healthier alternatives.

You can never be completely risk-free, but there are plenty of choices available to keep our canine friends chewing on something better than table legs and slippers!

What do you think – is rawhide bad for dogs?

Leave a Comment