The dangers of rawhide dog chews

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes


The-dangers-of-rawhide-dog-chews The dangers of rawhide dog chews

Please watch this video on how rawhide dog chews are made

Bones and chews for dogs made of rawhide are very popular and appear in all sorts of shapes and sizes, being quite economically priced. A rawhide chew can last a dog for days, perhaps even longer, yet it’s so dangerous. I am amazed that they still market it and sell it to animal lovers. If you’re a pet owner who uses rawhide products for your dog, read on to find out why you need to stop now!

What are rawhide dog chews?

Most pet owners wrongly assume that these chews are made of some sort of dried-up meat. However, nothing is further from the truth!

Taken from the inside layer of horse or cowhides that have been stripped of hair and cleaned. To carry out this hair removal process, the unprocessed hide is first soaked in chemicals such as sodium sulphide or an ash-lye solution which is very toxic.

The hide is then washed before being whitened with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Once dried, it is then formed into the dog treats you find in the shops. Sometimes coatings or flavourings will be added to make them more appetizing for the dogs.

These additives may be highly toxic, containing not only preservatives like sodium benzoate but also FD&C Red 40, a carcinogen. Other toxins, such as formaldehyde and arsenic, have also been detected in these rawhide treats, used as glue to coat the chews to make them last longer. As rawhide is neither classified as pet food nor for human consumption, no safety regulations apply to its manufacture.

Dangers of giving your dog rawhide chews


Possibly the greatest danger of all is the risk of your dog choking. If you’ve ever seen a dog chewing on a piece of rawhide, you will know how soft, stringy and stretched it can become. Your dog will pull at it until he manages to pull off lengths of it. This means he’s at great risk of choking, where it may become stuck in his throat, damaging the lining of his oesophagus and blocking his airway.

Signs of choking.

If you see your dog drooling at the mouth, pawing at his mouth, panicking or not being able to swallow, there is a huge chance he has got a piece of the rawhide lodged in his throat. You need to take emergency action and contact your vet immediately.


As rawhide is manufactured from animal skins and products, the risk of salmonella is of huge concern to you and your pet.

Intestinal blockage and digestive distress

If your pet does happen to swallow a section of a rawhide chew, be prepared to take action. The rawhide will rapidly swell in his stomach or intestine, causing critical symptoms. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and possible pancreatitis. As rawhide isn’t digestible, your dog will have to pass it out of his system, so be aware of any blockages.

A safe alternative to rawhide chews

Alternative natural chews

Instead of purchasing any chew that contains rawhide, why not consider the following alternative natural chews to rawhide

Bully Sticks

These dog treats are 100% natural and digestible and, unlike some other chews, won’t splinter. These tasty dog treats are made from the dried penis (yep, that’s right) of the steer or bull. They are often just called puzzle sticks.

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Whilst they are generally made of dried bull meat, you can also get cooked varieties.

One of the great things about these treats is that they are suitable for most dogs, including those with sensitive tummies or food allergies.

Naturally, like all treats, they should be treated like that. After all, it is like us eating chocolate all the time, and the waist will start to get bigger and even cause nausea if too much is consumed


Sweet Potato Chews

These tasty snacks are full of healthy nutrients and high in fibre to help keep your dog’s digestive system in order.

They can also help clean their teeth

Venison Ears

This is another great tough chew that can be found in many pet shops. The ears can be beef, pig or venison and are all low in fat. Like antlers, they do not break easily, so the risk of choking is slim.

Fish Skin

These chews are made from fish skins, are low in fat and provide omega-three and lean protein. This makes them a healthy alternative to rawhide and great for skin and coat. The treats are also non-greasy

None of the above chews will harm your dog. If you love them, do not buy rawhide. Let’s help by not purchasing them and put an end to the rawhide industry! Mostly made in China also, where they have very minimal standards for things such as rawhide.

Chew Toys

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Kongs and other Toys

As well as offering safe and healthy chews as an alternative to rawhide why not consider a toy? Kongs are one of the safest and most practical chew toys you can provide as an alternative to rawhide. 

The great thing about a stuffed Kong (especially if it’s frozen) will keep your dog occupied for a long time. The other great thing about Kongs is you can leave them alone. This makes them ideal when you pop out for a short while (e.g. to the shops).

To introduce your dog to the kong, try giving them one or two meals from it. Start with something easy to get out of. Using a combination of stuffed kongs, lick mats and snuffle mats will also help mentally stimulate them and provide brain work.

Remember to regularly wash these toys to avoid the build-up of bacteria.

There are also some great quick and easy games you can play with the equipment you probably have around the home.


Whether you decide to give them a toy or a chew, make sure you always keep an eye on them. (although stuffed kongs are generally ok)

This is to ensure that small pieces do not break off the chews and become a choking hazard.

That’s because you want to make sure pieces don’t break off that he can swallow or choke on. Be sure to cycle out the chew regularly, so you and your dog don’t have to deal with any nasty) bacteria.

Here at Finchley Dog Walker, we know Dogs get bored. We  recommend this article from a local dog trainer on helping to beat t boredom and improve mental health.

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