Is Rawhide Safe to Give Your Dog?

Rawhide is a popular, affordable, chewable product people buy for their dogs. However, rawhide poses a significant threat to your dog’s safety and wellness.  Many people are unaware of the dangers that rawhide can present.

So many people want to know the answer to the question, what’s wrong with rawhide, because it is so readily available and being pushed by most big box stores and pet vendors.  There are better alternatives to rawhide that you can give your dog. These other products don’t carry the same health and safety concerns as rawhide.

What is Rawhide?

Rawhide is animal skin, like that of cattle or pork, that has been dried and processed in some way. This product comes in various shapes and sizes. Sometimes companies add flavor to the rawhide.

Usually, rawhide comes from the leftovers of leather companies. The kill floors of slaughterhouses are often covered in scraps, which companies take to make into rawhides.

Most rawhide manufacturing companies are in China. After gathering the skins, these companies give the hides a salt bath to prevent decay.

Sometimes, the salted hides sit in warehouses for up to months before going to the next manufacturing stage. For this reason, decay naturally happens even after the salt bath.

Finally, at the tannery, the tanners treat the hides with lime to pull the fat from the skin. Then, the tanners use chemicals alongside rubbing techniques to remove the hair. Lastly, the manufacturer rinses the rawhide once more.

Alternatively, companies soak the rawhide in bleach or hydrogen peroxide, two chemicals that should never be ingested.

Are you still wondering if rawhides are good for dogs?

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Why do dogs like rawhide?

Chewing is a mind-stimulating activity for dogs, which is why they like rawhide. Dogs have an instinct to chew. Also, they enjoy the flavor. However, the hide is dangerous for dogs to chew.

Your furbaby will chew no matter what. So, save your shoes (or whatever else they like to chew on), and redirect their behavior to something safe to chew on.

Why is Rawhide bad for dogs?

Rawhide is bad for dogs for several reasons. All of these reasons can threaten your dog’s life.


Companies use cancer-causing chemicals in the skin-removal and preservation processes. For example, some rawhides are covered in preserving formaldehyde. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can elevate the risk of certain cancers.

Digestion Blockages

Dogs usually swallow whole chunks of rawhide, which are hard to digest. These pieces can cause blockages in the esophagus or intestines. The only way to remove these pieces is through surgery.

Also, the chunks can stay in the stomach for months, swelling up to four times their original size and leading to digestive problems.

Choking & Mouth Hazards

As dogs chew rawhide, the treat dissolves, getting smaller. So, dogs may try to swallow a chunk and end up choking.

Especially hard rawhide can fracture your dog’s teeth. Sharp pieces can lead to gum bleeding.


Contamination often happens during the rawhide creation process. If not manufactured properly, rawhides can harbor germs. These germs include bacteria, like Salmonella and Campylobacter, at a higher rate than other toys.

Then, these germs spread to you or others, or your dog ingests the germs as they gnaw on the rawhide.

Should I Give My Dog Rawhide?

No, you should not give your dog rawhide.

With so many alternatives, there are plenty of other types of chew toys that are better than rawhide for your dog.

Safer alternatives to rawhide include:

  • Toys made from bio-safe plastics or composite materials
  • Antlers from deer, elk, or other animals
  • Certain rubber chew toys (based on the chewing habits of your dog)

Regardless, you should always give your dog something to chew that:

  • Is formaldehyde-free
  • Is large enough so your dog can’t swallow it
  • Won’t break into pieces for your dog to eat

Overall, it’s important to know your dog’s chewing habits. For example, if your dog is a power chewer, they need sturdier toys so that they don’t choke on pieces of the toys. Also, consider regularly replacing your dog’s chew toys or cleaning them to reduce the spread of bacteria.

In answer to the question, are rawhide bones bad for dogs? Absolutely, rawhide is bad for dogs. I hope that this article has given you some insight into the reason why rawhides are bad for dogs so that you will not give your dog rawhide. Perhaps it will inspire you to search for chew toys that are made of better quality and can last you and your dog longer which will be both better for your wallet and the health of your dog!

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Other Articles of Interest:

How to Avoid Toxic Dog Toys that Can Cause Cancer

Chews Wisely: A Guide to Safe Dog Chews and Non-Toxic Toys

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When To Say Goodbye To Your Dog With Cancer

Dispelling the Myths and Misconceptions About Canine Cancer Treatment

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