Looking for rawhide alternatives for teething puppies and aggressive chewers? You’re not alone! Years ago, rawhide was the chewing treat of choice for many dogs. We used to “treat” our dogs to rawhide bones for their birthdays and Christmas, and they loved them! More recently, rawhide has come under fire with there being questions as to whether or not it’s safe.
One of our readers wrote in with a question about rawhide alternatives. They asked:
“Hi there! I was wondering if you knew of any good alternatives to rawhide that I can give my teething puppy? Sadie is 3 month black lab and chews everything she can get her paws on. I want to give her something that will last a while but I heard that rawhide isn’t safe anymore? What can I give her instead that won’t be gone in five minutes? Thanks!”
To answer the question, first let’s take a look at what rawhide is and why many dog parents are turning away from it. Then we’ll look at a few good rawhide alternatives!
What is rawhide and why is it considering dangerous?
Rawhide is formed from the inner layer of a cow or horse hide that is cleaned, cut, and pressed into a rawhide chew or bone. Some dogs experience digestive upset from rawhide and it’s possible that the chew could be contaminated with bacteria (which is more dangerous for humans than dogs). The biggest concern, however, is that a piece of rawhide could be swallowed and either cause choking or end up lodged in the esophagus or stomach. If you follow a few rawhide safety tips, you can allow them to chew it. However, many dog parents would just rather steer clear and go with another option entirely. Here are a few rawhide alternative that will appease even the most aggressive chewer.
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- Natural wood chews. About a year ago, we pet-sat my cousin’s dogs, and he brought Petstages Dogwood chews for them (plus a couple extra for my dogs). All four dogs loved the chews, and it kept them busy for hours. The chews do break into pieces, but they are much smaller than pieces I’ve seen come off rawhide. Considering how much my dogs love eating the mulch (dye-free, don’t worry) and tree bark in the yard, this is a great fit for us!
- KONG toys. If you’re worried about pieces breaking off, KONG toys are some of the best choices for your dog. They stand up to some of the toughest chewers, and their cone-shaped toys are perfect for stuffing with treats to add an extra challenge (and keep your puppy occupied for awhile). The Tugga Wubba (in small for those little puppy mouths) gives you a toy you can play with together plus a durable rope for chewing.
- Nylabone products. Nylabone offers a wide variety of chew toy options, some (like these) made for small puppy mouths and tender puppy gums. We’ve had some Nylabone products our dogs love and others of which they’re not too fond. The bones with a smooth texture doesn’t seem to give quite the same input to their teeth and gums, so we have better luck with bumpy textures.
- Squeaky toys. Our older dog, Gracie, has never been too fond of squeaky toys, but our younger dog, Lucy, absolutely loves them. We have several plush toys with squeakers, and she loves to chomp down on them to make them squeak. There are some great options without stuffing so you don’t have to worry about it being ingested.
- An old jean leg. Go with me on this. Take a pair of old jeans, cut off a leg, and tie it into a knot. Toss it around with your puppy and encourage him to play tug-of-war with you. Once you show him it’s a toy (and since it doesn’t look like your actual clothing, he won’t get confused that your good jeans are edible), it may just become his favorite!
With the concerns about rawhide, there are all kinds of alternatives that are much safer and more fun. Give some of these a try and come back to tell us which are your dog’s favorites.
Are there any other great rawhide alternatives that your dogs love that we missed? Tell us below!