Updated date:

Is Rawhide Dangerous for Dogs?

Susan cares for two Newfoundland dogs and works as a freelance writer.

Rawhide chews are an extremely popular type of dog treat—but are they safe?

Rawhide chews are an extremely popular type of dog treat—but are they safe?

Say No to Rawhide, Cow Hooves, and Pigs Ears

What kind of treats are you feeding your dog? Pet owners will often rely on advertisements, store displays, and advice from friends or neighbors when deciding what to give their canine friends for treats.

I recall talking to my dog's veterinarian about the various treats available on the market. Rawhide was on his list of treats that you should not give to your dog. This included anything from chews and bones to those cute little shoes you get in doggy Christmas stockings.

The reason he recommended against rawhide was because he had performed many operations on his patients in which he had to remove all the little bits of rawhide that the dogs were swallowing from their intestines. The rawhide can collect in the intestines and cause a lot of havoc. Had he not operated on the dogs, they may have died.

Symptoms to Watch For

Should your dog have any of the following problems while eating a rawhide, you should call your vet immediately.

  • Pain or a distended abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Refusing to eat
  • Dehydration (dry mouth and/or sunken eyes)

Not All Dogs Can Handle Rawhide

Some dogs are perfectly fine with rawhide while others are not. It is always best to discuss with your veterinarian what types of treats you should and should not allow your pets to have.

Possible Risks

Pet treats such as rawhide can contain toxic chemicals. Salmonella contamination is a possibility that can put both you and your pet at risk. Some dogs are allergic to rawhide, and this can cause digestive irritation. Should your dog swallow a large piece of the rawhide it can choke and become stuck in the throat or in the digestive tract.

How to Make Sure Your Dog Does Not Swallow the Rawhide

The best possible way to avoid any problems with rawhide is to eliminate them altogether. However, if you feel that it is necessary to continue to allow your dog to consume rawhide, be sure to supervise them. Throw the treats out before your furry friend has a chance to bite off a piece of the rawhide or when it get small enough to possibly swallow.

Alternatives to Rawhide

There are other treats that you can feed your dog rather than rawhide to clean their teeth and give them something to chew on. Smoked bones are 100% natural and dogs love them.

Kong toys that are made from hard rubber and filled with cookies or peanut butter are a tasty treat for a dog and can keep them entertained for quite some time.

Always check with your veterinarian should you have any concerns whatsoever about what you are giving your pet.

Antlers

Antlers are 100-percent Naturally Shed. This is a product that I'd like to get for my 2 Newfoundland dogs. I know many people that have bought these and their dogs are powerful chewers. They do not break off or splinter. They are free of plastic polymers and chemicals that make up most commercial dog chews.

What are your thoughts on rawhide?

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2011 Susan Zutautas

Comments

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 14, 2015:

Melody, If it is a concern I would ask the vet right away.

Melody on March 05, 2015:

Im reading through all these stories and was wondering if this could be going on right now with my 6 month old black lab puppy. IF you already gave dog unsupervised ( without knowing to watch him w that kind of bone,)..and that may be what's happenng?..Can the do get better soon on own?

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 03, 2014:

Annie, When I was growing up we'd always give rawhides to our dogs and it wasn't until about 7 years ago when I was talking to my vet that I saw the damage these so called dog treats could do. I'm so glad that I've never had a dog suffer from the results of a rawhide.

RaintreeAnnie from UK on October 31, 2014:

I think it was my parents who first told me never to give rawhide to a dog, it was something I always knew. I grew up with a dog in the home and we never gave her rawhide. There are plenty of better and safer alternatives.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on July 29, 2014:

The deer antlers although expensive seem like they'd be great for dogs.

Dianna Mendez on July 29, 2014:

My son just switched their dog to the nylabone. Good to know it is better than the rawhide. Still, I would prefer a better chewing alternative. Good information here for all pet owners.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 06, 2014:

Glad to hear it Heidi, and thanks so much for commenting.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 03, 2014:

I definitely don't give my dogs rawhides. I do use Nylabone and other chews of that type. But you gotta watch those, too. We have to monitor how much our boy dog has chewed on them and pitch them when the ends get too sharp or small. Thanks for sharing this important info!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 18, 2013:

ocia,Thanks for passing this information onto your brother.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 17, 2013:

2besure, I can't understand why the pet food stores and grocery store even allow rawhide to be sold. Maybe some day in the future we will see them all removed hopefully.

Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on December 16, 2013:

I have head that this is dangerous, yet you can find them in every grocery store. It is up to the pet owners to be aware. Good article.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 16, 2013:

Crafy, I too make mine homemade dog cookies. They love them!

I never cook the bones that I give to my dogs. There is too much chance for them to splinter if you cook them.

CraftytotheCore on December 16, 2013:

Such an important Hub. I have 3 dogs. I had no idea rawhide was not a good idea for them until a dog behaviorist warned me about it. I usually make them homemade dog treats. But, I also buy the large beef marrow bones at the supermarket too. I boil them first and let them cool. I bought small ones once and one of my dogs got it stuck around her jaw. I had to take her to the emergency vet, but fortunately it fell off before they had to saw it off.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 08, 2013:

Lisa, Thanks for telling me this. I'm going to remove the link for the Nylabone products.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 08, 2013:

When I see rawhide in pet stores especially it makes me want to talk to whoever manages the store. I think I may just do this. Hand them out several printed articles about the dangers of rawhide. See if it makes a difference.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 08, 2013:

I don't understand it either.

Lisa from WA on October 07, 2013:

I worked at a pet store a while back and a few customers actually complained that a lot of the Nylabone products didn't last very long. One lady's dog tore it up and ate some of the pieces before she realized what was going on. She came in to the store a little frustrated because she'd hoped to get an alternative to rawhide that wouldn't break into small pieces the dog could potentially choke on. It's definitely important to take the strength of your dog into account when looking into rawhide alternatives. I know the Kong toy in that last picture worked well for the Malamute/wolf mix I had.

Great hub! Definitely a good read for all dog owners.

Mary Craig from New York on October 06, 2013:

I don't think people can be reminded enough about rawhide! I have to agree with moonlake, I don't know what it's sold either!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

moonlake from America on October 06, 2013:

We never give our dogs rawhide. I don't understand why they still sell it in the stores. Voted up.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 20, 2013:

Gypsy, Glad your husband was able to retrieve the rawhide. I'm the same way, I panic too and am always glad if there's someone else around to help me out.

Gypsy48 on March 19, 2013:

Informative hub Susan. Rawhide bones can be dangerous. Last month I was taking care of my daughter's dogs while she was out of town, which are her babies. Sadie was gnawing on a rawhide bone and somehow it got caught on her tongue. I was in absolute panic mode. I tried to ease it off her tongue but couldn't. My husband the calmer one in these situtations managed to ease the bone off her tongue with no injuries. I didn't realize that could even happen. No more rawhide bones for her!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 19, 2013:

Glimmer, Good thing you were able to retrieve the rawhide from your dog. I know my two would gobble the rawhide if they had them. Thanks for sharing this.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 19, 2013:

heidithorne, Every once in a while I'll go to the butchers and get my dogs a very large raw ham bone. That keeps them happy for a long time.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 19, 2013:

Deborah, All the dogs that I had growing up used to get rawhide bones, and they never had a problem with them. My two Newfs will take a bone treat that I've purchased in a store that is supposed to last for days, or so it states on the packing, and the treat is gone in a matter of minutes. No rawhide for my two.

Claudia Mitchell on March 18, 2013:

We gave up rawhide a long time ago. My dog chews it for a while and then swallows it whole. Luckily I've been able to grab it out of his throat before it gets to his stomach. Really useful hub! Shared various ways.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 18, 2013:

We've also banned rawhide at our house. One of our dogs got very possessive with it, but not other things. Others wouldn't swallow whole, but could eat 'em up in short order, causing digestive upset. So we're a Nylabone and Kong house now. Thanks for sharing these important reminders!

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on March 18, 2013:

My husband always expresses concern when I give my dog rawhide. She doesn't get them often, but I do give them as occasional treats. She just got one on Friday because it was her birthday. I took it away Saturday morning because it was down to almost nothing. I may have to think twice before I give her another one.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 02, 2013:

Vicki, You're more than welcome.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on January 01, 2013:

Susan, I may have read this before, but it's a good reminder for me and my little guy! Thanks!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 28, 2012:

Janice, I've been looking at the Antlers that the pet store have been carrying and thinking about getting my dogs those.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 28, 2012:

GoodLady, Most dogs do love the rawhide bones. Some are okay with them. I know I've had dogs in the past that never had a problem with them, but since my Vet alerted me to this I thought it best to cut them out.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 28, 2012:

Judi, Mine have a toy basket beside my desk and every once in awhile they'll dig out the Kong. I get them these huge denta bones that are supposed to last for some time. They go through those in five minutes tops :)

Janis Goad on September 27, 2012:

My dog loves bully sticks--they are digestible, and still give a good chew.

Voted up! Vet surgery for foreign objects stuck in the digestive tract is pricey, not to mention the risk to the dog's life if it perforates.

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on September 27, 2012:

It's so incredible how much one doesn't know. I wonder if my sister knows this. She has two amazing dogs and I think they love their rawhide bones. Oh dear. How awful. Thanks so much for this invaluable information! Voting interesting and up and shall tweet it.

Judi Brown from UK on September 27, 2012:

I stopped giving Emmy rawhide treats early on - she seemed to get bits stuck in her throat and I worried she would choke. She had a Kong toy like the one in your photo but she seems to have lost interest in chewing these days.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 21, 2012:

Pamela, Thanks. After hearing about some of the dogs from my vet that he'd operated on, that was enough for me to not allow my dogs to have them.

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on February 20, 2012:

Great story, Susan. Just because they sell them for dogs doesn't mean we should buy them.

Audrey Howitt from California on November 15, 2011:

Good to know--my dog loves bones---

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 15, 2011:

thejeffriestube, Yes, cooked bones are a no no.

ktrapp, All my dogs that I had growing up got rawhides. Luckily nothing bad happened to them because of it.

Audrey, My vet actually recommended the raw bones and even told me which butcher to buy them from.

Audrey Howitt from California on November 15, 2011:

I also give my dog only uncooked bones although my vet worries about the bacteria in them--

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on November 15, 2011:

This is the second hub I've read on this topic today. We have always given our dog rawhide and now I am afraid to even though we haven't experienced any problems yet. At the very least I am going to throw them out when they get small where they might be swallowed.

Dave from United States on November 15, 2011:

I know my Husky mix has a sensitive stomach and can't handle them, or beef, for that matter. Some dogs have sensitive stomachs just like humans. Ours gets alot of chicken and rice, and he loves it! Generally though, giving a dog ANY kind of cooked bone you've made at home is a bad idea.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 15, 2011:

Audrey, Thanks.

Sunshine, My dogs love bones. But they only get them uncooked. So sorry to hear about your neighbors dog.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on November 15, 2011:

My neighbor gave his dog the bone from their Christmas Ham, poor dog didn't make it to New Years. The bits and pieces of the bone shredded up his insides...it was very sad. Informative hub Susan!

Audrey Howitt from California on November 15, 2011:

Great info--I tend to stay away from it--although our dog loves it--we give her bones instead--

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 08, 2011:

Great information. Thanks.

Kathy from California on July 01, 2011:

Learn something new every day! Thanks for the info! Good Job, whatever makes puppy happy!

Daffy Duck from Cornelius, Oregon on June 30, 2011:

That's interesting. I used to give my dog those, but I stopped doing it because she got a piece lodged in her mouth keeping her from closing it. I had to reach in and get it out.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 30, 2011:

Maria, Your poor dog, I can only imagine the pain he must have been in. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this. Yes there are many safe treats and toys available. Thanks again.

Maria J . Hines on June 30, 2011:

Maria J Hines One of those cow hooves they sell for treats got stuck in my dogs intestinines,he had emergengy surgery,and my Vet still has it in his office to show clients.Rawhide is dangerous too ! There are plenty of safe toys to spoil our beloved dogs with that are safe !

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 30, 2011:

Ruby, Thanks for stopping by to read this.

Merlin, Yes we do have Bovril. I never thought about using Bovril, thanks for the great tip!

Merlin Fraser from Cotswold Hills on June 30, 2011:

Hi Susan,

Do you have Bovril over there ? It's a beef extract paste in a jar for making beef tea or gravy.

All my dogs used to love it spread on their Kongs really did keep then safely happy for hours.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 29, 2011:

Susan, I don't have a dog now, but it's good to know what's good and what's bad. Thank you.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 29, 2011:

Raidioguy, Do you go hunting with Skeet? Brittany's are beautiful dogs.

Spirit Whisperer, There are many great chew toys and healthy treat options. Thanks for your comments.

suziecat, Were the stomach problems related to the rawhide? Hope that your dog is doing okay now and thanks so much for your comments and vote up.

Bukarella, It would be nice if they would take them off the shelves but I suppose because the rawhide does not bother some dogs they will be there to stay.

Merlin, I had bought my dogs Nylabones at one time and it stated on the package that the dog would get hours and hours of enjoyment from these bones. No word of a lie they were gone within ten minutes. I should have written the company and told them their bones didn't last long for giant breeds.

My dogs love the Kong too especially with peanut butter.

Thanks so much for all your input, always nice to hear from you :)

FishAreFriends, Please come back and let me know what your vet says. What breed of dog do you have?

FishAreFriends from Colorado on June 29, 2011:

My dog swallowed small things laying on the floor when she was a little puppy. She seems to eat them slowly and actually chew on them, not just swallow. But, I am still due for an appointment to the vet (for a check-up) so I will discuss it then.

Merlin Fraser from Cotswold Hills on June 29, 2011:

Hi Susan,

I think it depends very much on the size of the dog, little dogs probably get more enjoyment out of them, however big dogs tend to treat these things as food and often swallow large chunks whole.

I stopped giving them to my German Shepherds for that reason, pigs ears were given pretty much the same treatment... gone in a couple of minutes so you know it went down in lumps.

Little dogs can't do that and probably have more fun and enjoyment out of them.

The Kong on the other hand was a great sense of fun neither dog ever tried to eat it... My big male Shepherd when he died his ashes were buried under his favourite shady tree complete with his Kong.

Lyudmyla Hoffman from United States on June 29, 2011:

No rawhide for my dog as well. I don't get why they are allowed to be sold.

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on June 29, 2011:

I stopped giving my dogs rawhide a few years ago when one of them became ill with stomach problems. This is indeed useful information. Rated up!

Xavier Nathan from Isle of Man on June 29, 2011:

Thank you so much for writing this hub. I had no idea and though I have only given our dog only one rawhide so far I will not be giving her any more. I will go with your other suggestions and am truly grateful for this very useful information. Voted up.

Radioguy from Maine on June 29, 2011:

No rawhide for Skeet! Too much of a chance for a slimy bit to get stuck in her throat! Besides she becomes too excitable with rawhide ( she's a Brittany ) but some dogs seem to settle down and act "grown up" while toying with rawhide. In the end, I suppose it does depend on the dog.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 29, 2011:

nightbear, I agree it does depend on the actual dog. Swallowing it whole wow! I remember when we had dogs while I was growing up and they all had rawhide and I never gave it a second thought until that one day talking to my Vet.

It was funny the other day my mother in law came to visit and Bruce(my male Newf)nudges her and walks over to the kitchen cupboard where his treats are. It was as if to say "You know where they are, please get me one"

Thanks so much your comments are always appreciated.

Susan Kaul from Michiagn, USA on June 28, 2011:

I think the rawhides depend specifically on the dog. Our Vet said they were a calorie-less treat that satisfied chewing and snacking IF the dog could handle it. My Golden retriever would unroll it and swallow it whole, in a matter of minutes. YIKES!! once that was discerned no more for her. My Belgium sheepdog, very meticulously takes it apart into tiny little pieces. It takes her hours of fun chewing to get this accomplished. She gets them whenever she wants one. And yes, she can ask for it and apparently does a great job speaking human, because we always understand. hmmmmm. :)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 28, 2011:

RH I tend to think the pig ears are about the same as the rawhide but I am not 100% sure on that.

Cardisa, I give mine raw bones and after talking to my vet and having him tell me about the rawhide I was amazed as so many stores sell them.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 28, 2011:

FishAreFriends, Many dogs are fine with rawhide. I have Newfoundland dogs and they are one of the breeds that my Vet told me tend to have problems with the rawhide. Best to discuss it with your vet.

dahoglund, I always try to give my dogs raw bones or the smoked ones.

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on June 28, 2011:

Our dogs get bones, no fancy treats or anything but I hate any animal being hurt by something like that.

Good information.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on June 28, 2011:

Oh I didn't know this! Thanks for the heads up. I do give the dogs pig ears - I wonder if those cause issues? I'll have to ask the vet, I did give them rawhides but it isn't worth the trouble if there is any possible way that could happen.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on June 28, 2011:

My wife gave our dog lots of rawhide. I tend to be wary of them but now the dog has lost interest in them.I tend to favor plain old fashioned bones we used to get from the butcher shops. For some reason they don't seem available around here.

Our dig is of unknown age but probably aroudn two years. She may have just at the end of the teething stage.

FishAreFriends from Colorado on June 28, 2011:

That is scary! I did not realize this... and I gave my dog rawhide. I guess I am due for a trip to the vet to discuss this with her. Other than that... great hub!