7 Safe Alternatives to Rawhide Chews and Bones

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Rawhide chews and treats for dogs have filled pet store aisles for decades. However, they’ve become less popular over the last several years as owners have realized the dangers they present.

But dog chews and treats are still important for your dog’s well-being, so you must find safe alternatives to rawhide to satisfy your dog’s biological need to chew.

We’ll try to help below. We will explain the dangers rawhides represent and provide recommendations for 7 of the best rawhide alternatives around.

safe alternative to rawhide

Safe Alternatives to Rawhide

Rawhide isn’t very safe for your dog. However, you still need to provide him with an acceptable alternative so he can exercise his chewing instincts.

Fortunately, there are plenty of great dog bones that are usually safe for pets including the 7 detailed below.

Be sure to compare all of the no rawhide dog bones and chews discussed below, so you can pick the best one for your pet.

1. Nature Gnaws Large Bully Sticks

Nature GnawsNature Gnaws Large Bully Sticks are high-quality dog chews that make an excellent alternative to rawhide.

Unlike some other bully sticks, which are treated with fragrances and other chemicals to reduce the natural odor of the sticks (an odor, it should be noted, which dogs love), Nature Gnaws Bully Sticks are untreated and all-natural.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Derived from grass-fed cows raised in the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina
  • Tested, inspected and packaged in the USA
  • Resealable bag to help keep them fresh after opening

Owner Reviews: Most owners were very happy with Nature Gnaws Large Bully Sticks. Most dogs absolutely love chewing on these treats, and owners love knowing that their dog has a safe and enjoyable chew treat.

A few owners complained about the odor of these treats, and several were put off by their relatively high price. However, high-quality alternatives to rawhide are rarely cheap.

Bottom Line: Bully sticks are a great option for most owners seeking a rawhide alternative, but not all bully sticks are created equal.

Some are manufactured in countries with poor safety standards and others are coated in chemicals to cover up their natural odor. However, Nature Gnaws Bully Sticks sidestep these issues and give you the chance to provide your pet with an all-natural, safe and nutritious treat.

Note that the bully sticks listed here are considered “large” by the manufacturer. In our estimation, they’re probably appropriate for dogs in the 50- to 60-pound range. Really big dogs should probably opt for their “extra-large” bully sticks, which are quite a bit thicker.
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2. Himalayan Pet Supply Dog Chews

Himalayan Dog ChewHimalayan chews are based on an ancient recipe originally devised by people living in the rural Himalayan Mountains. In fact, they were originally made for human consumption! Made from four simple ingredients (yak milk, cow milk, salt, and lime), these super-durable chews are safe, all-natural and long-lasting.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Most treats are about 7 inches long and 2 inches in width
  • The all-natural recipe uses no preservatives
  • You can microwave them to increase the size and lower the density

Owner Reviews: Most owners raved about Himalayan Pet Supply Dog Chews. Dogs seem to love the taste of Himalayan chews and find the texture very intriguing.

Most owners reported that these chews produced no offensive odor the way some other no rawhide bones do. Owners also said that they lasted for a very long time.

Bottom Line: Himalayan chews are typically very popular with dogs. Also, most owners love knowing that they are providing their dog with an all-natural alternative to potentially dangerous rawhides. They are a bit pricey, but given how long they often last, they still represent great value.

Note that Himalayan Dog Chews are best for light- to moderate-chewers, who will simply scrape off tiny pieces of the chew at a time. Very aggressive chewers may break off pieces large enough to cause intestinal obstructions.

So, as with every other chew or rawhide alternative, you must supervise your dog when enjoying these treats – particularly at the outset.

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3. Earth Animal No-Hide Beef Stix

Earth Animal No-HideEarth Animal No-Hide Beef Stix provides all the mouth-challenging fun that many other chews and non-rawhide dog bones do.

However, they are much more digestible than these competing products. Made from a combination of all-natural ingredients, these chews are digestible, safe and delicious.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Made with seven all-natural ingredients, including beef, beef gelatin, eggs, rice flour, and olive oil
  • Made in Earth Animal’s USDA-inspected human food facility
  • Resealable bags help ensure product freshness

Owner Reviews: Owner reviews for Earth Animal No-Hide Beef Stix were overwhelmingly positive. Most dogs seem to find these treats delicious and fun to chew.

Owners enjoyed providing their dog with a digestible, all-natural, US-made alternative to rawhides. Additionally, these treats don’t seem to smell bad like many other dog chews made from natural beef products do.

Bottom Line: Earth Animal No-Hide Beef Stix are some of the most attractive rawhide alternatives available to dog owners.

They’re not only safer than many other dog chews, but they’re also largely digestible.

That means they’re one of the safer options on the market. Additionally, they’re priced very reasonably, making them a viable option over the long term.

The only potential downside to these rawhide alternatives is that they aren’t especially large. They’re probably more appropriate for dogs in the 50- to 60-pound range, rather than gigantic canines weighing over 100 pounds. They’re likely safe for larger dogs, they just won’t last very long.
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4. SmartBones Peanut Butter

smartbones peanut butterSmartBones Peanut Butter Bones are a delicious and healthy alternative to rawhide that most dogs love.

They are made with chicken, corn, peanut butter and several other ingredients commonly used in dog foods.

These chews will give your dog a chance to exercise his chewing instincts and please his palate at the same time.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • 99% digestible and rawhide-free
  • Peanut butter flavored on the outside; chicken-flavored on the inside
  • Vitamin and mineral enriched to provide additional health benefits

Owner Reviews: SmartBones Peanut Butter Bones received some of the best reviews of any bone we reviewed. Most dogs appear to love the taste.

Owners love knowing that they’re giving their dog chews that are almost completely digestible. That drastically reduces the chances of them causing health problems.

It disappointed a few owners to discover that these treats are made in Vietnam. This is not ideal (we always recommend treats made in the USA). However, Vietnam-based facilities typically use better safety and quality controls than Chinese-based dog treat manufacturers do.

Bottom Line: These are a great option for most dogs for one simple reason: They are 99% digestible. This means they’re unlikely to lead to intestinal obstructions (you should still supervise your dog while enjoying these chews). Therefore, they are safer than rawhide-based chews.

Smartbones are a bit pricey, but they aren’t prohibitively expensive. It is difficult to put a price tag on your pet’s health, safety and well-being.
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5. DreamBone Vegetable Chicken Dog Chews

dreambone no rawhideDreamBone Vegetable & Chicken is a rawhide-free dog treat made with real chicken. Your dog will find them delicious. You can relax knowing your dog is unlikely to develop intestinal obstructions or other health problems that rawhide can cause.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals for additional nutritional value
  • Made with real chicken and vegetables and 99% digestible
  • Dog bone shape makes these treats easy for pets to handle

Owner Reviews: Most owners were very happy with DreamBone Vegetable & Chicken Chews, and most dogs seem to find them very palatable.

They are rawhide-free and made from 99% digestible ingredients. Therefore, most owners feel safe giving these to their pet. The added vitamins and minerals help make them even more attractive.

This product is made in Vietnam, which gave some owners pause. US-made products are always preferred. However, Vietnam does implement stricter safety and quality-control regulations than China does. That may help some owners feel better about these bones.

Bottom Line: These bones are some of the best rawhide alternatives available on the market.

They have most of the characteristics dog owners want when picking dog chews. That includes a largely digestible slate of ingredients, a taste dogs love and a price tag that won’t break the bank.
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Additional Rawhide Alternatives

6. Brutus & Barnaby Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Sweet potato chews are a great low-fat, high fiber option for dogs on special diets. It’s possible to bake sweet potato strips in your oven. However, it’s much easier to buy a bag of Brutus & Barnaby Sweet Potato Dog Treats.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Product of USA and Canada
  • 100% guarantee
  • Gluten-free, grain-free, zero fat, no added sugar, high in fiber

Owner Reviews: Some dogs didn’t like the flavor, and other dogs experienced diarrhea. However, most dogs loved these treats and had no problems with them.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a single-ingredient chew, one that’s low in fat, or one that’s less likely to trigger allergies in your dog, these sweet potato treats are worth a try. 

7. Pawstruck Jumbo Cow Ears for Dogs

They may not be as long-lasting, but cow ears are the closest thing you’ll find to safe rawhide. The Pawstruck Jumbo Cow Ears for dogs are slow-roasted for a low-fat tasty treat your dog will love. 

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Made in the USA
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • NO artificial ingredients, chemicals or hormones

Owner Reviews: There seem to be some quality control issues with this product. Many of the complaints are from people who used to love the product but got a bad bag. Apart from the fact that you may get small, tattooed, or “grungy” ears, most dogs love these. 

Bottom Line: This is one of the better companies on the market offering ears made in America. They’re definitely worth a try. 

rawhide dog bones unsafe

What Is Rawhide and How Is It Made?

Rawhide is made from the hides of cattle, sheep and other hooved animals. The top layers of the hide are used to make typical leather goods, such as upholsteries and clothing. The inner layers are used to make drum skins, whips and the chews we’re discussing here.

After being separated from the outer hide, the inner hide goes through many processing steps.

These are designed to separate the hide from the fat and connective tissue. Some factories do so by treating the hides with lime. Others do so by washing the hides in a hydrogen peroxide bath.

From there, the hides are then dried, stretched and folded into the desired shape (typically a basic “dog bone” shape). They’re then shipped out to retailers, where they’re typically stored in bulk bins.

This is important to note, as it provides a route through which even clean rawhides can become contaminated with bacteria found on improperly treated rawhides.

Rawhide Alternatives for Dogs 2

The Danger of Rawhides: Why Aren’t They Safe for Dogs?

Rawhides represent several potential dangers to pets. That doesn’t mean something bad will happen anytime that your dog eats a rawhide. Plenty of dogs have safely enjoyed them over the years.

But the risks involved with the treats are too high for most pet owners to accept once they understand the potential for serious illness or injury.

Choking

If your dog bites off a large piece of rawhide and tries to swallow it, he could end up choking.

You may be able to fish the lodged piece out of his throat or perform the canine Heimlich maneuver if you notice your dog choking. However, you won’t be able to help him at all if he chokes while you aren’t watching him closely.

Bacterial Contamination

Rawhide can very easily become contaminated with a variety of harmful bacteria, including pathogenic Salmonella and Escherichia coli strains.

Dogs who eat these contaminated rawhides may become sick. In a best-case scenario, your dog may only suffer from some mild vomiting and diarrhea.

In a worst-case scenario, he may become seriously ill and wind up spending several days in a veterinary hospital.

Chemical Contamination

Bacteria aren’t the only things that may contaminate your dog’s rawhide. The chemicals used in the manufacturing process may also linger on the processed product.

In theory, the chemicals used in the processing of rawhide shouldn’t represent a danger if proper safety protocols are implemented. However, most rawhide bones are made in countries with infamously lax product safety standards.

Intestinal Obstruction

Even if your dog swallows a large piece of rawhide without choking, that doesn’t mean he’s home free. After all, it must come out the other end, and it won’t break down very much in his digestive tract. This can lead to intestinal obstructions, which may need to be surgically removed by your vet.

Stomach Upset

Rawhide needn’t be contaminated with dangerous bacteria to upset your dog’s stomach. It seems to simply disagree with the digestive systems of some dogs and frequently leads to constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting.

safe rawhide alternatives

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Wrapping Up: Alternatives to Rawhide

Chewing is an important part of canine behavior, and it is always important to provide your dog with something safe to chew.

There are many different chews on the market that are safe for dogs. However, you should start your search with one of the alternatives to rawhide chews above.

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5 Best Dog Bones for Aggressive Chewers

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10 Best Dog Bones for Big Dogs

5 Best Bones for Pitbulls 

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