Healthy Alternatives to Rawhide

September 16, 2022 5 min read

As pet parents, we’ve all come home to a dog who got into a bit of mischief; chewed-up cushions, sprawled out toilet paper, and destroyed footwear are each an example of our dogs not having enough to chew on.

Rawhides are an inexpensive and long-lasting solution to this issue that many pet parents resort to. However, while rawhide chews are alluring, they come with many drawbacks for our pet’s health. 

In this blog, we’ll be going over rawhide chews and their effect on pet health, as well as a few healthier alternatives that can give your dog something to chew on.

dog with safe chew

The Harmful Components of Rawhide

What makes rawhide so harmful for your pup is the chemicals and materials used during its production. Animal by-products, harsh chemicals, and dyes are all combined to form an “easy and convenient” chew at the price of your dog’s health. Let’s go over the components of rawhide and what they are most commonly known for:

  • Leftover Animal (Usually cow) Hide: Rawhide chews are made out of animal hides, primarily from cattle. The hide used in this process is often leftover from the leather industry, causing severe discoloration, which can only be covered up with harsh chemicals. 

  • Artificial Colorings and Flavorings: As mentioned above, artificial colors are used in the rawhide production process to cover up the discoloration of leftover cowhide. Artificial flavorings are used as an incentive to get dogs to chew on rawhides- without the flavorings, a dog wouldn’t feel obliged to chew on them at all.

  • Harsh Chemicals: Chemicals like lye and hydrogen peroxide are used to give rawhide its signature white, smooth appearance. Lye is used to separate the hair from the cow away from its hide, while hydrogen peroxide is used to bleach the rawhide white. 

    These ingredients are all combined in a short, quick process so that dog toy companies can pump out as many as they can. In short, the animal hide is first separated into thin sheets using lye, bleached and treated with chemicals for a white color, then cut and glued into different shapes.

    Effects of Rawhide On Your Dog’s Health

    Considering the large number of chemicals and synthetic ingredients going into rawhides, it would make sense that they aren’t the best choice of chew for your pup. 

    There have been many stories of dogs’ intestines being blocked by broken pieces of rawhide, which are not digestible to our pups whatsoever.

    Rawhides can expand up to 4x their original size in a dog’s stomach, making it a much more significant threat than a tiny piece may look.

    If a piece of rawhide were to get stuck in a pup’s digestive tract, a trip to the vet and surgery would be inevitable.

    Additionally, because of its dense composition, rawhide can damage a pup’s teeth. If a rawhide is too hard, a dog may chip or break a tooth attempting to bite into the artificial chew.

    Healthy Rawhide Alternatives

    While rawhide is a seemingly cheap and convenient option for many pet parents, there are much more accessible, and healthier alternatives pet parents can provide to their pups.

    For example, carrots and celery can be picked up for a dollar at your local grocery store but give much more benefits to your pup than rawhide. Here are a few of our favorite alternatives to rawhide:

    Bully Sticks: Bully sticks are 100% digestible beef made into chewy sticks for your pup. These chews are extremely popular and can be found at nearly every pet store and on Crafted Dog Treats’ catalog, which has a variety of other natural treats your dog will love.

    Why we love them: Since bully sticks are 100% natural and single-ingredient, they carry no health drawbacks whatsoever. In fact, bully sticks provide your dog with a list of benefits: cleaner ingredients bring your dog cleaner teeth, and their digestion will improve immensely if switching from rawhide.
    healthy chews for dogs

    Fresh Veggies: Carrots and celery are convenient, healthy, and delicious snacks you can find at any supermarket you go to. Because of their shape and length, they make for great chews! 

    Why we love them: It’s common knowledge that fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients for our bodies. Our dog’s bodies love these nutrients as well, yet most kibble-fed pups aren’t able to enjoy them (We talk about that more in this blog: "Nutrition Comes From Natural Raw Food For Dogs, Not Kibble!").

    Feeding your furry friend carrots and celery as a natural chew will be great for their teeth and provide them with loads of nutrients that will only benefit their health.


    Raw Dog Bones: Raw dog bones are a part of a dog’s ancestral diet, with the bone marrow being a superfood for their health. Raw dog bones can be hard to find, but feeding a complete and balanced raw diet includes some bone content! You can also find raw bones at your local butcher, or online.

    Why we love them: Raw dog bones come with a list of benefits: they naturally clean your pup’s teeth, they provide them with mental stimulation from chewing, and they are full of healthy minerals and amino acids. 


    Himalayan Yak Chews: These chews are 100% natural but last just about as long as rawhides do. Himalayan yak chews are made from yak milk and hardened, being the perfect treat for heavy chewers. 

    Why we love them: At Crafted Dog Treats, we’re all about fresh and natural. Yak chews are both of these and more, being full of calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. We recommend these chews to larger dogs with a more prominent tendency to chew since they can be hard on the teeth and difficult to chew up sometimes!

    Dehydrated Beef Tendon: Dehydrated beef tendon is another 100% natural, single-ingredient chew like beef bully sticks. Beef tendons are much harder than bully sticks, making them better suited for heavy chewers and larger dogs. Our treat line, Crafted Dog Treats, supplies human-grade beef tendon for your pup, which can be added to your cart along with bully sticks and other natural treats!

    Why we love them: Dehydrated beef tendon is another natural, single-ingredient treat that is much chewier than bully sticks. The durability of beef tendon is what makes it especially outstanding. Additionally, when your pup finally is able to chew it up, there is no harm done to your pup’s digestion since it is wholly natural and digestible. 
    beef tendon chews for dogs

    While your pup is chewing away, be sure to watch them and make sure they don’t bite off bigger pieces than they can chew- choking hazards are prevalent with any and all chews for our pups. We hope your pup enjoys their new chews!

    single ingredient chews for dogs