Can puppies have rawhide chew sticks?
If you’re wondering the same thing, I’ve got you covered!
Today, we’ll answer all the vital questions about puppies and rawhide.
We’ll learn when they can have them, how to use them safely, and- for those who don’t want to risk it- what alternatives are best.
Ready to get started?
You may also like: Bully Sticks or Rawhide: Which is Better for Your Dog?
Everything You Need to Know about Puppies & Rawhide
If you’re just looking for a super quick and short answer to “can puppies have rawhide sticks,” there really isn’t one.
In my opinion, no, you shouldn’t give your puppy rawhide. However, I’m solidly in the “rawhide is bad for all dogs” camp, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
That said, we did give it to our dogs before we knew about the potential dangers, and they lived to be almost 15 (they were large breeds, so that’s saying something).
I’m also not here to just shove my opinions down your throat, I promise (although I will sprinkle them in for perspective).
We’ll be taking a look at what vets and other experts say as we go through the frequently asked questions about puppies & rawhide.
Let’s start with the very basics: what, exactly, is rawhide?
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What is rawhide made of?
Rawhide is made from the hide of an animal, usually a cow or a horse. The hides are removed, cleaned, ground, and the pressed into dog treats.
Sometimes manufacturers will toss in a bit of meat flavoring to make them more appealing. Unfortunately, that flavoring may totally artificial (or on the other hand, it may just be all natural).
The video below does a good job of illustrating how rawhide is made:
As Dogs Naturally Magazine explains, it’s not a by-product of the meat industry the way some treats are, but rather a by-product of the leather industry.
Basically, once the animal is skinned, manufacturers take the top portion and turn it into coats, purses, sofas and such. Then the bottom layer goes to your dog.
Now that we know what it’s made of (and how it’s made), let’s talk about how rawhide works once it’s in the paws (and mouth) of your dog.
Is Rawhide Digestible in Dogs?
Is it digestible? If so, how long does rawhide take to digest in dogs?
As for the first question, it depends on the type of rawhide, the size of the chunk that your dog swallowed, and even the type of dog, according to experts at the AKC.
A few manufacturers in the USA actually make digestible rawhide (it’ll say so on the label), but even with that, it’s better to take the stick away from your dog before it’s small enough to swallow.
Overall, though, rawhide is not digestible, but small enough pieces will pass through the digestive system before coming out the other end. Make sense?
Does rawhide dissolve in the stomach?
Aside from the aforementioned specialized digestible rawhide chews, the answer is a resounding “no.”
In fact, Embrace Pet Insurance explains it can actually swell up, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis.
Help, my dog swallowed rawhide, what do I do?
If you know (or even suspect) that your dog swallowed a good-sized chunk of rawhide, call your vet. Seriously, that is the only correct answer.
Sure, you can watch for signs of tracheal, esophageal, intestinal, or bowel obstruction, but in way too many cases by the time you see the signs, you have a major emergency on your hands.
Likewise, if your puppy swallowed even a relatively small piece, call your vet. Remember, it swells up inside your dog, so puppies are at a much higher risk for obstructions.
If you saw him swallow a piece small enough to not pose a choking hazard, I’d still give your vet a call.
However, it’s not quite as huge an emergency, so she’ll likely just tell you what to watch out for until you see it come out the other end.
So, can puppies have rawhide chew sticks or not???
Yes, I know, you came here to find out if puppies can or can’t have rawhide chew sticks and we took the long way to the answer.
There was a reason for that, as I think you need to really understand the intricacies of rawhide to help you decide if it’s safe for puppies.
See, while my opinion is that no, puppies cannot have rawhide, as I said earlier, it’s not that simple.
Rawhides may be okay for puppies under the following conditions:
- Your vet says it’s okay.
- You’re able to supervise your puppy while he’s chewing on rawhide (in other words, it’s not a crate-safe chew)
- You opt for the digestible kind versus the totally indigestible rawhide.
- Your pup doesn’t have any allergies to beef
- You stick with US-made rawhide because it’s less likely to be made with dangerous chemicals
- Your pup isn’t in any way immune-compromised (salmonella and other bacterial infections are a risk with rawhide)
If you do decide to give rawhide a try with your puppy, wait until he’s an appropriate age and make sure you buy the right size.
We’ll talk about the first part in a second.
By the “right size,” I mean don’t give a Great Dane a tiny rawhide made for a Chihuahua! He could easily swallow it whole.
What age can puppies have rawhide?
Can a 10-week-old puppy have rawhide? How about a 15-week-old pup? 20 weeks? 51.99 weeks?
Ask a dozen experts those questions and you’ll get a dozen different answers.
There’s really no perfect age to give a puppy rawhide (should you decide to do it at all).
I like to err on the side of caution, so I side with the experts that recommend waiting until they really start teething, which is when rawhides benefit them the most anyway.
For most pups, that’s between about 12-16 weeks (or three to four months).
Remember, regardless of what age you start giving them, never let your puppy chew rawhide unattended.
What is the best rawhide alternative?
If you’ve reached this point and decided that you agree with my take on rawhide, you may be wondering about the best alternative.
There are quite a few different opinions on this as well!
Our resident vet tech went over some great options as well as when and how to safely give chews, so I’ll echo some of his advice here.
Bully sticks feel somewhat similar to rawhide on your pup’s teeth and gums but they’re far more digestible.
They are made from one single ingredient- beef muscle. A very specific type of muscle actually. Oh, let’s just say it, they’re bull penises!
They don’t splinter like bones. They’re hard enough to satisfy chewers yet not so hard that they damage teeth.
I really like the braided ones because they last longer.
My aunt has a bully stick holder like the one below that she uses with her dog for added safety.
It goes on the end and stops him from swallowing pieces when the stick gets too small.
- Bully stick holder raw hide holder treat stick holder bully grip bully buddy safety device chew toy dog toy puppy toy teething ring chew proof natural rubber
- Bully stick holder that fits most bully sticks and hard treat sticks from 5/8" wide to 7/8" wide
- Multi-Functional Dog Toy and Safety Device! Made with non toxic chew resistant durable natural rubber designed for dogs that like to chew (supervise use).
- Helps prevent choking and stomach blockage in dogs when eating treat sticks. Quality Inspected, Assembled and Packaged in the USA.
- Twist the Bully Grip onto the treat stick by gripping the bully grip in one had and the treat stick in the other. Twist until the treat stick is completely in the bully grip. Works best if you place...
As Ben explained, Kong toys are “non-toxic and designed to stand up to even the most rigorous chewer without being too hard on their teeth.”
Take a look at the video below on how to use them:
So, long story short: can puppies have rawhide chew sticks? It really depends on whether you can monitor them and what type you buy!
However, in my opinion, there are so many safer options that it’s really not worth the risk.
What do you think? Can puppies have rawhide chew sticks? Do you give your dogs rawhide? Share below!