Is Rawhide Bad For Dogs?
November 12, 2022 | 3 min read
Updated November 12, 2022
By Sarah Milton
Published: November 12, 2022
Updated: May 11, 2023
Summary: In this blog, we learn whether rawhide is good or bad for dogs, how to make chewing safer for your dog, and more about rawhide for dogs…
All dogs have a natural instinct to chew; especially teething puppies! But, many dogs throughout their lives enjoy nothing more than spending time with a rawhide bone. Is rawhide safe for dogs though? Should we look elsewhere when it comes to satisfying our dog’s chewing instinct…?
Rawhide For Dogs
Rawhide is made from the inner layers of a cow’s skin (hide), but can also be derived from other hoof-owning animals like pigs, horses, and sheep. It is cleaned, cut or ground then dried, and then pressed into chewable dog treats. Some can be purchased flavored to make them even more enticing for a dog to try too.
Is Rawhide Bad For Dogs?
Rawhide, whilst ok for dogs to have, does present more safety concerns than other chews that are available on the market.
Rawhide can pose a choking hazard; it’s really important that you purchase an appropriate-sized rawhide piece/bone for your dog’s jaw and mouth size. Otherwise, they may experience an obstruction if a piece is too large, or choke on a smaller piece.
Rawhide can chip/damage teeth; if you purchase a rawhide bone that’s far too big for your dog’s mouth, they may chip or damage their teeth so be sure you have the right size rawhide in the store before allowing your dog to chew on it.
Rawhide can be difficult to digest; rawhide is essentially a byproduct of leather and therefore it can be fairly hard for a dog’s body to digest which can, in turn, increase the risk of internal obstruction in their digestive system.
Rawhide is treated with chemicals; when the animal skin is treated to become rawhide, chemicals are used that are toxic to dogs. However, these should be cleaned thoroughly away before they are dried. So, make sure you’re buying your rawhide from a reputable, respected brand to be sure this process is thorough. In addition, rawhide should be cream or white colored. If it’s been dyed a different color to this, this can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs like sickness or diarrhea, particularly in those with sensitive stomachs.
Puppies under 6 months old shouldn’t be given rawhide as their jaws haven’t developed properly yet. Senior dog owners should be wary of giving rawhide to their older pets too, as their muscle tone and bone structure can weaken with age and rawhide can then pose a higher risk to their jaw and teeth.
Dogs with any gastrointestinal sensitivities should be given rawhide sparingly and with a vet’s approval.
Is Rawhide Good For Dogs?
The above risks aside though, as long as you’re purchasing rawhide appropriately in terms of size and quality, it can benefit your dog. Rawhide can promote your dog’s jaw strength, help dislodge plaque from their teeth, improve their breath quality and entertain them which can boost their mood and mental wellbeing.
It’s always advisable to monitor and be present with your dog while they chew on rawhide (or anything for that matter!) and to take it away if you need to leave them by themselves unattended. It’s also advisable to purchase rawhide that’s been made here in the USA so you can be more confident in the quality of the rawhide and its manufacturing process, and avoid rawhide that’s been dyed.
However, if you’re concerned about giving your dog rawhide, there are alternatives like doggy dental sticks that are made without using animal hide. These can provide similar benefits for your dog which you may prefer to try.
How Long Does Rawhide Take To Digest In A Dog?
Any pieces of rawhide that your dog manages to break off and swallow will be processed by the body in chunks, but will take much longer to digest than regular food. However, this will vary from chew to chew and dog to dog but a piece of rawhide can stay in their system for as long as 3-5 days. If your dog is one to take their time with a chew, processing rawhide will be easier for their body as it should pass through in very small chunks with no issues in their stool.
If your dog swallows a very large piece of rawhide, you should check in with their vet.
How Many Rawhides Can A Dog Have In A Week?
The general rule is the smaller a dog is, the fewer chews they should be given. Try them with one and monitor them over a few days to see how their body responds (is their poop okay etc.?) and then check in with your vet about how much they would advise your dog may have per week.
Author Dr Austin, Stephanie “Safer Rawhide Chews For Dogs” Preventative Vet, Jun 14. 2021 https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/safer-rawhide-dog-chews
Author Stewart, Annie “Rawhide: Good Or Bad For Your Dog?” Pets Web MD, May 08. 2021 https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/rawhide-good-or-bad-for-your-dog
Author Dr Morefield, Tiffany DVM “How Long Does Rawhide Take To Digest In A Dog? (Dangerous Signs)” Dog Needs Best, Jan 25. 2021 https://www.dogneedsbest.com/how-long-does-rawhide-take-to-digest-in-dog
Author Burke, Anna “Are Rawhide Chews Dangerous For Dogs?” American Kennel Club, May 20. 2020 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/are-rawhide-chews-dangerous-for-dog/
Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!