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Is Rawhide Safe for Your Dog?

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Rawhide is sold in just about every pet store – often in many different varieties. It’s a staple in most households with pets. Yet many blogs, organizations, and veterinarians warn that rawhide could not only be dangerous, it could actually be lethal. Here’s what you need to know before you give your dog rawhide.

What is rawhide? According to Pet Planet, a franchise that prides itself on being well-versed in canine health, rawhide is the tough inner layer of bull, cow, water buffalo and horse hides. It is essentially a byproduct of the meat industry.

What are the dangers of rawhide? First of all, rawhide is not considered a food item. Thus, it is not covered by any labeling, processing, or content laws, and it may contain chemical preservatives. According to Associated Content, imported rawhide chews often contain toxins including arsenic, lead, titanium oxide, formaldehyde, chromium salts, mercury, cadmium and bromine. Even with the use of these highly questionable preservatives, the FDA reports that Salmonella has been detected in some of the imported chews. In the US and Canada, refrigerated trucks provide safer transport and the hides are generally only treated with hydrogen peroxide and a water rinse.

In addition to the chemical risk, rawhide can swell up to four times its original size in your dog’s stomach and cause life-threatening blockages. And dogs can chew off and swallow large pieces of rawhide which can get stuck in their esophagus, stomach, or intestines. This almost always requires surgical removal. In the terrible light of realizing too late, many dog lovers have posted warnings and alternatives on their websites, like The Northeastern Boxer Rescue who lost a gorgeous dog named Maxwell because of a blockage caused by a rawhide chew.

The worst tragedies are the ones that can be prevented. If you must give your dog rawhide, make sure it was made in America. Choose one of the higher end brands and make sure it compliments your dog’s proportions and habits. For safety, monitor the chewing. Throw away the small, chewed down pieces.

Alternatives to rawhide: Or better yet, consider alternatives to rawhide like beef chews or rubber toys like the Kong (a delicacy when stuffed with peanut butter) or even the ingenious Antlerz, a chew made of deer antlers. They are long lasting, rich in minerals, and will not splinter during digestion.

Chewing is a very natural behavior for dogs. It helps keep the tartar from collecting on their teeth (preventing periodontal disease and dragon breath) and gives them immense satisfaction. There’s no need to take that away.

Do, however, chewse (you must have seen that coming!) wisely.

Brought to you by Pawfun Blog.

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Jen Wilbur

When I took my new puppy to the vet for her checkup nearly 4 years ago, my vet warned me about rawhide. The horror stories of dogs dying of intestinal blockage kept me from every buying them for her. And I grew up with a dog that had one all the time.

I once saw a dog choke on a piece of rawhide after it tried to swallow a piece that was too big. Luckily the owner was there to pull it out!

If you love your dog, don’t give it rawhide. Our vet suggested bully sticks as an alternative, which is what we use. It’s not hide, but an organ, which digest easily.

BL Ochman

My late darling Yellow Lab, Sammy, got deathly, deathly sick one time from a rawhide bone that must have been treated with poisons. Poor dog was sicker than, well, a dog. Never gave him another one, ever.

Benny gets Bully Sticks and frozen RAW marrow bones. he has gorgeous white teeth as a result.


I never give them to my dogs but…. Wow they are worse than i thought….. great blog! Thanx


For the last 13 years our Aussie has loved rawhide bones, and they havn’t given us any problems. Believe it or not, the only type of treat that’s ever harmed her was a raw frozen marrow bone! She broke her bottom left canine on the thing when she was 11. Now we only give her rawhide (American made), because its one of the few things we feel safe about her chewing on.


I have worked as a sales associate at a pet supply store for quite some time and we have an entire rack dedicated to rawhide…I personally think it shouldn’t even been sold. Dogs are not capable of limiting or monitoring themselves and all it takes is one big chunk to either choke them or sit in their stomach and expand. I NEVER recommend rawhide to any of our customers and I would never feed it to my dog or anyone else’s dog.


I am sitting here sorting through websites about rawhides, my beautiful bichon maltese has eaten rawhides forever without any problem until recently….choking, yellow bile, lethargic. After what i’ve read about the ingredients these rawhides are off my list and will invest in more Kongs. I hope everyone takes notice and does not feed their dog these awful toxic rawhides.


i recently got a new puppy and she loves rawhide’s they haven’t given her a problem yet in fact she loves them although now i will be more cautious thx


Sorry, Pawfun.
You’re illegally using a photo that I took of my dog Destin at the top of this article.

You don’t have permission to use the photo which has a copyright.

You originally got it from here:

Please remove this photo immediately.
I’ll check back…

BL Ochman

no problem. we changed the image. sorry!


Thank you so much :-D
…have a *FuN* day!


Interesting article. I must have been very lucky. Every dog I have had since I was 9 years old always had rawhide (usually the little twisted sticks). In almost half a century haven’t had a problem. I wonder if this is a more recent problem?


Wow, I would think that a true dog lover would enjoy the use of a photo of her dog being used to potentially save other dogs. If you put it out on the web Lynnette, be careful because your photo may become the property of the domain that you put it on such as Facebook. I laugh at your copyright threat and if I used your photo, I would be happy to meet you in court to teach you a few good lessons about true copyright laws and how they are enforced.

Sonya Graham

To Lynnette – Oh brother. Get a grip on your ego. It wasn’t that good of a picture anyway.

Thank you Pawfun. I have a new puppy and had no idea they were bad for them. Throwing away this big bag I just bought…..

Petra Stevens

Nice article and one that all dog owners should be aware of. I found another post with some more alternatives to rawhide at the link below.


This may help owners with a little variety when choosing dog chews in the future.


For years I’ve always gave my dogs rawhide and they’ve been fine . I give my three year old and one year old chihuahuas them too. But today my tree year old has choked on one and is currently in the vets now being treated. I have thrown all of the chews away and won’t buy them ever again. Ill look for safer chews in the future!

BL Ochman

So sorry to hear that happened to your pup! I hope he’ll be ok!
I give Benny marrow bones. they have to be frozen – NEVER cooked.


Thank you bl ochman. Good news my dog has came home. The raw hide bone has gone into her tummy now. She’s been sick a few times. And has a really sore throat. She had some jabs and some cough medicine. But is safe and well. I’ve ordered lots of nylabone chews instead and no more raw hide or pigs ears are coming into my house again. Chihuahuas haven’t got a very big throat so are succeltable to choking. Just so happy she’s ok :)

Treat guarding...

[...] Safe Are Rawhide Dog Chews? – VetInfo Is Rawhide Safe for Your Dog? – Pawfun Just a couple quick ones I found. I can look for some [...]


Warning – my perfect healthy German Shepherd had a one off fit and the only thing he had different that day was yellow painted raw hide he has fully recovered but the chemical coating cause the seizure please beware