August 06, 2021 4 min read

Source: Will Hughes/Shutterstock

Most dog owners are familiar with rawhide. Take a stroll down the dog bone aisle at your local pet store, and you’re bound to see this classic dog chew treat in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. Rawhide is cheap, long-lasting, and easy to find — a winning trifecta in the eyes of many pet parents. 

However, you may have heard that rawhide isn’t the best choice for your furry friend. Is this really true? Or is it just a myth? And if it is true, what should you give your dog instead? The experts at PawLove are here to tell you everything you need to know.

What Is Rawhide? 

First, let’s start with the basics — what is rawhide, exactly? Put simply, dog rawhide comes from the skin of a hooved animal, such as a cow or horse. During the manufacturing process, the skin is stripped into two layers. The tough outer layer is typically used to make leather handbags, wallets, and shoes, while the softer inner layer (hypodermic interstitial tissue) is used to make dog rawhide.

Is Rawhide Bad for Dogs?

Like many dog chew bones on the market, rawhide can help relieve stress and promote healthy gums and teeth. Unfortunately, that’s where their benefits come to an end. The reality is that rawhide dog chews can pose several hazards to your canine companion.

  • Intestinal blockage: The main concern with rawhide dog chews — and one commonly voiced by veterinarians — is their potential to cause intestinal obstruction. Rawhide dog chews can become soft, wet, and pliable when dogs chew on them, making it all too easy for aggressive chewers to break off large pieces. If your pup swallows these pieces, they can cause a severe blockage in your dog’s intestines, resulting in emergency abdominal surgery and expensive vet bills.

labrador lying on a vets table

Source: Sergey Nivens/

  • Gastrointestinal upset: Rawhide doesn’t break down easily inside your dog’s stomach — in fact, it expands in their tummy, which is why it’s more likely to cause intestinal blockages compared to other dog treats. If your pup ingests too much rawhide, it could cause an upset tummy.
  • Toxic chemicals: The truth is, rawhide dog chews may not be as natural as some pet parents think. Rawhide that is imported from outside the United States is often doused in chemicals to improve its appearance and help prevent spoilage during transport. If you want to spoil your furry friend with an all-natural dog chew treat, there are much better options than rawhide. (Hint: see our list of recommendations below).

The Best Rawhide Alternatives to Give Your Pup

Obviously, the last thing you want to do is give your four-legged companion a chew treat that could cause them pain or discomfort. Luckily, there are plenty of chew-worthy alternatives to rawhide that your dog is sure to love. The next time you want to treat your pup, skip the rawhide and let them gnaw on one of these all-natural dog chew treats instead. 

1. Bully Sticks

Bully sticks for dogs are an excellent alternative to rawhide bones. Made from 100 percent beef muscle, these single-ingredient chews are free from artificial chemicals, preservatives, and additives. Plus, they’re great for sensitive tummies. Unlike rawhide chews, bully sticks are easy for your pup to digest and are less likely to cause blockages in the intestines. They’re also packed with protein to support your dog’s brain, muscles, skin, and coat. Best of all, dogs go crazy for them! The moment you open up a bag of bullies, your dog is sure to be on their best behavior.

Collagen Sticks

2. Collagen Sticks

Is your dog out of the puppy stage? Consider replacing their rawhide chews with yummy collagen sticks. Although these delicious treats may look like a bully stick, they’re actually made from all-natural beef collagen (a protein that occurs naturally in the body of humans and dogs). Collagen offers many health benefits to dogs, including the following:

  • Healthier skin and coat
  • Improved mobility
  • Better digestion

If you have a pup with a picky palate, collagen sticks are a great choice. Most dogs can’t resist the delicious taste and smell of all-natural beef. Here at PawLove, our collagen sticks contain real peanut butter to make them even more enticing.

3. Beef Gullies

Another bully stick look-alike, beef gullies are a savory snack that is sure to get tails wagging. Made of baked beef esophagus, these single-ingredient chews are rich in nutrients such as chondroitin and glucosamine, which support joint health. Our beef gullies are also high in protein, giving your dog the energy they need to live life to the fullest. Whether you have a senior dog or a young pup, our Beef Gullies are the perfect treat to keep them happy and healthy.

Browse Our All Natural Dog Treats

The Bottom Line

So, is rawhide bad for dogs? It depends on where you get your bones and your dog’s chewing style. If your pup is a powerful chewer, skip the rawhide and give your dog something safer to gnaw on — like an all-natural dog chew treat from PawLove. Made with high-quality ingredients, our dog chew treats will make an excellent addition to your dog’s chewing rotation!