Is Rawhide Bad for Dogs?

Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
By Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
Updated: 6/3/20242-4 minutes
Is Rawhide Bad for Dogs?

Dogs love to chew. So as owners research appropriate ways to channel this behavior, they may wonder, "Are rawhide bones bad for dogs?" Some are. But you can find rawhides that are healthy for your dog. Keep reading to learn what to look for in rawhide for your dog.

Do Dogs Need to Chew?

They do! Dogs have an instinct to chew on things. So, a chewed-up shoe or gnawed furniture leg isn't your dog acting out. He's satisfying his need to chew. Giving him a rawhide can be a good way to redirect his behavior (and keep your belongings safe).

What is Rawhide?

Rawhide is the skin of animals such as cattle or pork that is removed, dried and prepared for your dog to eat. Rawhides come in different shapes, sizes and sometimes has added flavor.

Why is Some Rawhide Bad for Dogs?

Companies with subpar quality and safety standards can make rawhide that is bad for dogs. "There are chemicals used in the process of removing the hide. Good quality rawhides have been washed and cleaned,” explains Purina Senior Nutritionist Jan Dempsey. But not all companies remove those chemicals as part of their production process. Other ways rawhide can be harmful to dogs include:

  • Bacteria-if it is not manufactured responsibly
  • Choking-if eaten in large chunks or swallowed whole
  • Digestive upset-if your dog’s system is sensitive

How Can I Be Sure Rawhide is Good for My Dog?

There are a few things to check that indicate rawhide is good for your dog.

  • Check out the manufacturer
  • Look at size
  • Observe your dog chewing

“If the rawhide is not good quality or from a recognizable company that has good quality control procedures, it could have contamination,” says Dempsey. The process that companies use to gather and prepare rawhide is key when determining if rawhide bones are right for your dog.

Another way to make sure rawhide is good for your dog is to look at the size. “You want rawhide that is big enough to easily chew,” explains Dempsey. You know your dog’s habits, including how he chews and eats. Take that knowledge and think about what shape and size could be appropriate for your dog.

Rawhides are meant to be eaten over time, which means they get smaller gradually. “You don’t want rawhide to be so small it can become a choking hazard or they haven’t chewed it enough and it becomes a blockage,” says Dempsey.

Is Rawhide Safe for Puppies?

Puppies can try a rawhide. But wait till they are about 6 months old. Their mouths are not fully developed and a rawhide may be too hard for them.

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