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Posted by Lori Marsh on Jul 27th 2021

Best Alternatives to Rawhide Dog Chews

You love your pet, and you often put their safety at the top of the list. But not all toys and chews are made the same. Because it’s essential to offer your dog some type of chew to satisfy their natural urge, you want to make sure it’s something safe.

Rawhides are notoriously linked with causing problems. They can swell in your dog's stomach and cause a choking hazard. Here are some of the best alternatives to these problematic chews.

A dog chewing on a bully stick.

Is chewing good for dogs?

Dogs are natural chewers. That can often be a problem when their focus of affection is on your new pair of shoes or the kitchen table or the couch. Making sure that your dog has plenty of safe options to chew is critical, and it does more than just protect your stuff.

Relieves Stress & Anxiety

Just like giving a child a toy to play with, having something to chew on can help distract your dog from things that stress them out. And a chew keeps them from getting bored and becoming destructive.

Reduces Plaque Buildup

You don’t want to brush your dog’s teeth every week, and professional cleanings can be expensive. Offering your dog something to chew on can keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Burns Excess Energy

Sometimes you can’t always fit a long walk into your day. Having some natural and safe chews for your dog can help them burn off some of that energy until the next walk.

Helps Puppies Explore The World

Unlike people, puppies don’t have hands that allow them to explore their surroundings. They will often use their mouth. Making sure they have the right thing to chew on leads to better chewing habits.

Indicates Potential Health Issues

Dogs are creatures of habit, and they can’t always tell us when something is wrong. If you notice a change in your dog's chewing habits, you may want to schedule a trip to the vet.

Related: Barking Buddha size guide

Are rawhide chews bad for dogs?

While many people warn against them, rawhide chews are still popular dog chews. Let’s look a bit more at why you should avoid these chews.

Dog chewing on a white bone

What is Rawhide?

Rawhide chews are made from cow or horse skin. The leftover inner layers are treated and dried, and shipped off to the pet store. Eating dried skin can be beneficial to dogs. However, the way that these chews are produced can be toxic. Some have additives and are treated with bleach or other cleaning agents.

Other problems with Rawhide

If that wasn’t enough, there are more dangers. Dogs also can easily choke on these types of chews and can easily break off pieces which could get stuck in their throats. Or if they don’t choke on the little bits, they swallow them down. The problem with that is that rawhides don’t digest. It doesn’t break down, and if a piece is large enough, it might require surgery to remove it.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Beef Cheeks are a great natural alternative. Barking Buddha has a variety of sizes to choose from.

Is there any safe rawhide?

While the truth is, no, there is no safe rawhide, some dogs can happily have them without much risk. Because power chewers tend to break off pieces quickly, rawhides are not recommended for them. However, if your dog is a leisurely chewer, they could enjoy these, but we recommend monitoring your dog while they chew. This also allows you to remove the toy as soon as it begins to show signs of wear.

Best alternative chews

But what can you give your dog to chew on? Chewing is a natural and healthy part of any dog’s life. Rather than risk your pup’s health, here are some great alternatives for your dog to gnaw on.

Beef Cheeks.

Barking Buddha is the Original Beef Cheek maker. Unlike rawhides, Beef Cheeks are easier to digest. This makes them a great alternative to other chews. These chews also have an added bonus of nutrition.

They are rich in collagen and have a natural flavor. Barking Buddha’s Beef Cheeks are also additive-free, chemical-free, and preservative-free. With a natural cleaning and slow baking process, these chews are perfect, natural, and healthy for your dog.

Beef Cheeks also come in a variety of sizes, perfect for all dogs. Check out the full line of Original Beef Cheeks today.


Sweet Potato.

You can easily find these at the store, but you can also make these at home for your pup to chew on. Sweet Potato chews are digestible and filled with nutrition. They also have a high level of fiber so that it can help your dog's digestion system. A healthy digestion system is key to a long and healthy life for your pet. Sweet Potatoes are naturally filled with vitamins and minerals that help keep your dog’s vision and muscles healthy.

Related: For your dogs gut health

Here’s how to make your own Sweet Potato Chews at home.

  • Take a sweet potato or two and wash them well. Roughly one sweet potato will fit per baking sheet.
  • Preheat your oven to 250℉.
  • Slice them. There’s no need to peel them. For smaller dogs, you can slice discs. For larger, you can easily slice your sweet potato plank style for a larger chew. Keep the pieces about ¼ - ½ inch thick. Any thinner, and they will just be crispy chips.

Pro Tip: If you have a mandoline attachment, it works great for this.

  • Once they are all sliced, just lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment in a single layer and bake them in the oven for about three hours. Be sure to flip them at least once.
  • Once they are cool, store them in an airtight container. These will last up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Sweet Potato being cut on a board.

Nylon Chews.

The most common brand of nylon chews is Nylabone. Because they are made from synthetic products, they are a perfect alternative for rawhide. Unlike rawhide, nylon-based chews aren’t made of leather or animal products. Dogs struggle to tell the difference between your new leather shoes and an animal-based chew.

Nylon chews also have an advantage over rawhides because they offer different textures. Softer chews are available for older dogs and teething pups. Nylon chews offer a variety of flavors, textures, and shapes for every dog's enjoyment.

While some of these toys can still be a choking hazard, dogs will often only chew off small shavings of the compressed nylon. These small pieces can be swallowed and overall safe. As with all toys, keep an eye on your pup and be sure to remove any toys that may be too small or broken.

Bully Sticks.

Made from bull pizzle, these are a popular rawhide alternative. They are easier to digest and offer some essential amino acids. You can also find these chews in an untreated and natural form where they are only smoked. Often times without any added color, flavor, or preservatives.

Having extra amino acids and protein in your dog's diet can help promote healthy muscles, a shiny coat, and healthy brain activity. Natural Craving offers a healthy USA-produced bully stick that your dog is sure to love.

Fish Skin Chews.

Fish skin chews are perfect for dogs will allergies. This single ingredient chew is made from the outer layer of different ocean fish. Companies will dehydrate it until it hardens. Like most of the chews on this list, they offer some health benefits for your dog. The boosted levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 help to support healthy skin and coat.

Fish skin chews are crunchy chews that are more like a snack than a chew. However, they are digestible, unlike rawhides. Their flaky skin offers a welcome chew even for older dogs. Just be warned. They do have a fishy smell. Wash your hands right after giving them to your dog to prevent a lingering odor.

Conclusion

While rawhide chews are popular, they aren’t always safe. Because every dog has their own dietary needs, we recommend talking to your vet about these delicious options for your dog to chew. And remember everything in moderation. Too many sweet potatoes and your pup will keep you up all night with the runs.

Want to try a healthy, safe alternative to rawhide chews? Try Barking Buddha. Their natural beef cheeks are what dogs crave. Buy some today for a happy dog tomorrow.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Camping With Your Dog