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Rawhide Alternatives For Power Chewers

I am the proudest of pit bull moms. I had 2 that passed away and I have one now – and if there is one thing I know is that they love to chew. Our current girl Cleo is a chewing fiend and it seems like I can never have enough on hand to keep those jaws moving.

I feel guilty that as a first time dog owner in my 30’s I fed my 2 pittie sisters rawhide when they were younger. I never knew how bad it was for you at the time. Thankfully rawhide never caused them any real issues – but once I learned about what can happen with rawhide chews I promised I would never feed a dog rawhide again.

And I have kept my promise!

But when you have a power chewer it is important to keep their need to chew satisfied. I cannot tell you how much money I have spent – and wasted on various dog chews to find ones they would like. There are a lot of options out their which we are going to talk about below.

What Is Rawhide?

Before I talk about rawhide alternatives to consider – it is important for you to understand how rawhide is made and where rawhide comes from. It is not pretty.

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

The hides of the animal are then cleaned and cut or ground and then pressed into a variety of shapes for your dog to enjoy. This cleaning process can include chemical processing with lye to remove the hair and flesh from the hide.

Ready to give up giving your dog rawhide yet?

Many different rawhide manufacturers will add flavoring like chicken or beef so your dog shows more interest.

Oh, and all of what you just read is very similar to how they use animals to produce leather.

Now are you ready to give up rawhide? If so, then read on for much better alternatives for your dog.

Is Rawhide Really Bad For Dogs?

While some will say no it is fine, there are issues with rawhide for dogs which does make it bad for dogs.

Some dogs may be just fine with rawhide – others not so much, let’s talk about the different scenarios so you can determine if this is something you want to give your dog.

Potential issues for dogs who chew rawhide.

  1. Blockage – Power chewers like Pit Bulls or Cane Corsos – even some Labradors tend to chew off bigger pieces of a rawhide and swallow them without chewing. This can cause major issues because these pieces can get lodged in the throat or stomach and your dog may have trouble passing it causing more pain and possible damage.
  2. Digestion Issues – Big pieces of rawhide that make its way to the stomach may not be easily digested or broken down. While stomach acids can break down smaller pieces of rawhide – big pieces will be much more difficult and can result in blockage.
  3. Contamination – Because the rawhide is usually treated with chemicals in the cleaning process there could be small amounts of chemicals left that your dog can ingest. There is also a risk of salmonella and e-coli as well.

Rawhide Dog Chew Issues

If you have given your dog rawhide for the first time or the thousandth time, you should keep on eye on your pet for signs something is wrong. Whether they have a potential blockage or an allergy – eating rawhide can pose risks and the signs below can let you know when something may not be right.

On rare occasions you may even see your dog do something called dog scooting, which is when they drag their butt on the ground.

This could be sign of a little constipation or discomfort in the belly too.

Other signs you should watch for:

  • Diarrhea – is it one time or consistent
  • Vomiting – check the dog’s vomit color
  • Gagging – make sure they are not choking
  • Panting or crying due to pain – should be an immediate vet visit
  • Refusal to eat – do not allow them to go more than a day without eating

If you notice any of the above either right after your dog eats rawhide – or within a few days, a veterinarian visit is highly recommend to ensure they do not have a blockage or are having a toxic reaction to something in the rawhide.

Rawhide Dog Chew Secrets!

There are some things we found that kind of make our skin crawl in the creation of rawhide bones and we wanted to make sure you were aware of them so you can make a final decision as to whether you want to give your dog rawhide treats or not.

  1. The chemical commonly used to clean the cow hides is called “sodium sulphide liming” and is so toxic that tanneries that use it and are sometimes where these hides come from are on the U.S. Superfund site listings.
  2. If your rawhide has been imported from China – your dog may in fact be eating dog hide mixed with cow hide.

You can see in this FDA recall that rawhide bones made in Mexico and Colombia were using an unapproved cleaner called quaternary ammonia compound to clean the rawhide. While this is approved in the US for cleaning equipment it is not approved in the production of rawhide. This is just one recall of many for rawhide bones.

Here is a great video about how rawhide is made to help you see the exact steps and process – it is hard to imagine that you would want your dog to eat rawhide after watching this!

What are some rawhide alternatives for dogs?

As I have found, there are a lot of great alternatives out there now that my dog absolutely loves. The items below I have fed to my girl Cleo and also seem to be great alternatives to rawhide.

But it is IMPORTANT to note that dogs are all different – as are people. While most dogs my have no side effects from any of these options, your dog might. They might have an allergy, an underlying condition or illness or may just have an upset belly to start. On rare occasions treats can damage teeth too so keep an eye on your pets mouth too!

It is  important to keep an eye on your pet any time you feed them something new!

Bully Sticks

These things stink – I will warn you of that first, but man they make dogs happy!

So a bully stick if you do not know is basically the inner tendon of a bull penis. Your husband may not be particularly happy to have these around!

Dogs can digest them easily and I have yet to meet a dog that does not love them. Typically a bully stick will keep my dog busy for around 20 minutes or so and she is a pretty powerful chewer.

Make sure you buy bully sticks that re made in the US as the preparation requirements are stronger here than in other countries. Do NOT buy them from India or China.

The only downside to the bully sticks is that they are high in calories – but if you have an active dog that is a non-issue! For dogs that are less active you may want to limit the amount of bully stick treats they get.

Bully Sticks

I have always ordered the Best Bully Sticks brand of bully sticks since they had a good reputation.

Features

  • 100% beef pizzle
  • Highly digestible
  • 100% grain free
  • Made from free-range, grass fed cattle
  • Available in several sizes

I do not order these too often just because I cannot stand the smell. But, they also do not last as long as some of the other items I have found which you find below.

Himalayan Dog Chews

A great option that is yummy for your pet and high in nutritional value. These treats originated from Nepal and are usually made by boiling yak and cow milk and then allowing that mixture to dry which turns it into a hard chew. When your dog chews it – it will begin to soften which will then allow your dog to taste all the yummy goodness.

These are an all natural treat that have no additives! .

Himalayan Yak Dog Chews

From the mountains of Nepal we have these artisan created hews that dogs really love. Long lasting for most dogs and filled with healthy goodness!

Features

  • 100% yak and cow’s milk
  • Free from gluten, grain, soy, corn, additives and artificial preservatives
  • Sourced in the Himalayas
  • Available in several sizes

I order these on occasion because my girl really loves them, but I am not a fan of the mess. This brand was better than some of the others I tried though, so if this is an option you consider – this is a great brand to choose.

Hooves & Horns

There are several different types of hooves and horn options for your dog to chew. Cow, pig and horse are some of the most common. They offer your dog a unique shape and texture that they will love and engage with for quite a while. The key is to finding hooves that has no chemicals or preservatives to ensure your dog has the healthiest chew option.

While hooves are great you should be nearby when they are chewing them.

Pieces can break off on occasion and if they chew down too much you should take it away to ensure the small piece that remains does not become a choking hazard.

Below is just one of the hooves I give my girl. But I do not get these often because they STINK! I also like to get her filled ones as well.

QT Dog Buffalo Horn Chew

While my dog loves these – I do not give them to her often and I will only give them to her when I can watch her.

I usually give her these outside because they do smell horrible! They also do tend to have splinters so that is the reason you will want to monitor them while they chew these.

Features

  • 100% water buffalo horn
  • Made from free-range grass fed water buffalo
  • Gluten and grain free
  • High in protein and low in fat

I ordered these for my dog once, but she did not love them. But, there are lots of dogs on Amazon that speak differently about them, so they are definitely worth trying.

Marrow Bones

Visiting your local grocery store or butcher may offer some great rewards for your dog too. Marrow bones are larger bones like the femur or hip bone and make chewers happy.

Put them in the freezer for a great summer treat too!

When they chew these bones they can get to the center which will have the delicious marrow, which is high in fat so you will have to limit these treats. Also be sure to keep an eye on their chewing as well since these types of bones can splinter since they are slow roasted.

Marrow Bone Treats

A high density bone that will last a long time! Be aware this bone is BIG so I do not recommend it for small dogs at all.

Features

  • 100% digestible
  • Slow-roasted and smoked for a meaty flavor
  • No hormones or antibiotics in the cattle they come from
  • High in protein

I ordered these for my dog once, but she did not love them. But, there are lots of dogs on Amazon that speak differently about them, so they are definitely worth trying.

Beef Knuckle Dog Bone

When I first ordered this I was blown away by just how big it was. My 50 pound pit was in total heaven as this knuckle was actually almost the size of her head!

The best part of this chew – it was affordable and lasts for what seems like forever. While it does leave lots of bits laying around the carpet – I have not seen any sharp edges or things that will put her healthy at risk, and she LOVES them. I get one with every Chewy order I place.

I promise this is the best $5 you will spend if you have a big dog who loves to chew.

beef knuckle dog chew for power chewers

Bones & Chews Beef Knuckle Bone

A high density bone that will last a long time! Be aware this bone is BIG so I do not recommend it for small dogs at all.

Why I love these for my dog:

  • Made in USA
  • No artificial colors or preservatives and not chemically treated
  • Bone actually has some leftover fat and meat which makes dogs super happy
  • Minimal splinters

I have not seen any real issues with this bone and this might be my top personal recommendation.

Antler Dog Chews

My girl LOVES antler dog chews. It is one of my go to treats for her when I need her to be quiet when I am working because they are long lasting and keep her busy. No animals are hurt in the antler process as these are naturally shed from animals like elk or deer.

They typically do not splinter but they are super strong and some dogs may get so into it they risk a tooth breaking. Thankfully that has not happened here, but we are always on guard just in case!

Chewy offers a large collection of antler dog chews for all types of breeds and sizes of dog.

The one I usually buy (I change it up once in a while to try new brands) – but our default is Bones & Chews brand

Bones & Chews Elk Antler Dog Chew

Power chewers rejoice! Elk antlers are long -lasting and do not have stinky odors like some other chews.

Why I love these for my dog:

  • Made in USA
  • No animals are harmed as the antlers naturally fall off
  • Low odor
  • Not treated with any chemicals

They come in several sizes for different breeds too. Another option that I personally have not seen any real negative side effects from!

Everyone of the above items and brands I have given my own dog and feel safe doing so. But, like I mentioned before – it is important that you keep an eye on them while they chew! There is always a chance of splintering or choking with dogs who love to chew, not matter how highly rated a chewy may be!

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