Rawhide Alternatives: What to Chew Instead

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There are several reasons dog owners look for rawhide alternatives.

A few of the top reasons rawhides aren’t always the ideal choice are that they are not the easiest for dogs to digest[1], can cause intestinal blockages, and may cause general gastrointestinal upset.

Though a less critical reason, some dog parents don’t like rawhides because they get gummy and can leave an offwhite sticky residue behind, plus they can often be quite fragrant.

Thankfully for those of us who prefer rawhide alternatives, there are numerous options available on the market.

The 13 Best Rawhide Alternatives

Himalayan Yak Chews – Longer Chew Time Alternative

Eco Kind Himalayan Yak Cheese chew treats best rawhide alternative

Himalayan Yak Chews are also known by other names such as Himalayan Yak Milk Bones, Yak Cheese Chews, and Himalayan Dog Treats, to name just a few.

Most are made from yak’s milk, but some have added ingredients, including cow’s milk, so for those thinking this is an excellent hypo-allergenic option, be sure to check the label before buying.

Features

  • Available in a variety of sizes and forms
  • Can be softened in the microwave to make them easier to chew
  • Yak chews last a long time
  • Very digestible
  • Often is an excellent hypo-allergenic option.

Learn more about Himalayan Yak Chews!

Bully Sticks – High Protein Alternative

Bully sticks, also referred to as pizzle sticks, are bull penises.

Though that may make some people squeamish, dogs love bully sticks.

Bully sticks are an excellent rawhide alternative because they are more easily digested, less processed, and have less of a chance of chemical contamination.

Features

  • Available in buffalo and pig for a hypo-allergenic alternative
  • Variety of lengths making them suitable for different sized dogs
  • Rich in amino acids
  • Help keep teeth clean

Check out our more detailed comparison of bully sticks and rawhide!

Tendons – Senior Alternative

Tendon chews come in a variety of proteins, such as beef, turkey, and ostrich.

Tendon chews are a better alternative for seniors since they contain glucosamine, elastin, chondroitin, and collagen, all of which promote good joint health.

Features

  • Can be hypoallergenic
  • They are smaller than most rawhide treats
  • An excellent option to support orthopedic health
  • Easily digestible
  • Great for helping keep teeth clean

I like using Gobble! Turkey Tendons as a quick distraction, such as when company comes over.

Tripe Sticks – Sensitive Stomach Alternative

Tripe chews are made from the lining of the cow’s stomach, which is highly edible, nutritious, and lower in calories, making it a perfect rawhide alternative.

Tripe twist sticks are low in calories and are very easily digested, making them ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

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Features

  • Great for dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • It is a softer alternative to rawhides
  • Rich in vitamins and nutrients
  • Available in unique proteins for dogs with allergies
  • Excellent source of protein

I hadn’t tried tripe before, but after learning about its benefits, I ordered some Raw Paws Lamb Tripe Sticks for Calvin, who has a sensitive stomach. Success!

Cow/Pig/Water Buffalo Ears – Puppy Alternative

For seniors and puppies that have a hard time chewing on rawhide, cow, pig, and buffalo ears are a thinner and more flexible option.

Puppies need to chew, and animal ears are firm enough to help relieve discomfort from teething but are less likely to break teeth.

However, be sure always to check the labels since some ears have added ingredients.

Features

  • Often a single-ingredient chew option
  • They can be ideal for dogs with allergies
  • They help promote good dental health
  • Variety of protein options
  • High in protein

Though not listed above, I buy Nature Gnaws Rabbit Ears for Sophie since they are smaller and she has severe food allergies.

Trachea or Esophagus Chews – Low-Calorie Alternative

Trachea and esophagus chews often come from cows, though some companies offer lamb and pork options.

Tracheas and esophagi are very similar but connect different organs.

Because trachea and esophagus chews are not as rigid as rawhide, they are less likely to break or crack your dog’s teeth.

Features

  • Full of chondroitin and glucosamine
  • Softens quickly after your dog starts to chew
  • Help keep teeth clean
  • Great source of protein
  • Available in a variety of sizes and shapes like the braided option for aggressive chewers

Raw Paws Lamb Gullet Sticks are the chews I buy for when we travel. They are a great way to keep the dogs entertained on long drives in the RV.

Fish Skin – Tooth Friendly Alternative

So many dog chews are potential risks for breaking, cracking, or chipping teeth.

However, you don’t have to worry about your dog’s teeth with fish skins.

Fish skin chews are softer and more flexible yet require your dog to gnaw on them, making them a safer choice for dogs with dental issues.

Features

  • Fully digestible
  • Won’t break teeth
  • Low in fat
  • High protein option
  • Rich in Omega-3s

I have been giving my pups fish skins from The Honest Kitchen for years, and though they don’t smell awesome, they aren’t near as fragrant as some rawhides and rawhide alternatives.

Sweet Potato Chews – Meat Alternative

Sweet potato chews are large slices of dehydrated sweet potatoes; they are chewy and highly digestible.

Plus, sweet potatoes are a superfood full of antioxidants and vitamins.

Features

  • Packed with vitamins like beta keratin, A, B6, and C
  • Easy to digest
  • High in fiber for GI health
  • Chewy and flexible
  • Hypo-allergenic

My dogs love Crumps’ Naturals Sweet Potato Chews, and since they aren’t rigid, they are easier on my dogs’ teeth.

Frozen Carrots – Lower Price Alternativeo

Frozen carrots alternative rawhide healthy nutritious dog chew treat

It is simple and easy to pop some carrots into the freezer, plus carrots are full of vitamins.

Also, frozen carrots are an excellent option for teething puppies because the cold and firmness will help reduce the pain of their new teeth coming in.

However, be careful not to freeze the carrots fully; otherwise, they may become a risk for broken or cracked teeth.

Features

  • Low cost
  • Nutritious
  • Easily digestible
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • Good for dental health

I’ve not tried this method, but I often give my dogs full sized carrots since it helps promote good dental health.

Pegetables – Low Fat Alternative

Pegetables all natural vegetable based grain free dog dental chew treats

Pegetables are vegetable-based, grain-free dental chews.

They are an excellent rawhide alternative for dogs who are carrying a few extra pounds.

Plus, they are packed with superfoods, making them a more nutritious selection.

Features

  • Excellent for cleaning teeth
  • They contain superfoods such as flaxseed, dried kelp, and sweet potatoes
  • Low fat
  • Easily digestible

Pegetables are a great choice for cleaning your dog’s teeth and giving them nutrition with a single treat.

SmartBones and SmartSticks – Healthier Alternative

SmartBones rawhide free healthy alternative made with real chicken vegetables

Though they look like rawhide chews, SmartBones and SmartSticks are made with vegetables and chicken.

Plus, SmartBones are enhanced with several vitamins and minerals. And SmartBones are available in a variety of health-conscious formulas.

Features

  • Available in a variety of shapes
  • Excellent for dental health
  • They contain added vitamins and minerals
  • Available in a variety of recipe options

SmartBones are enhanced, healthier alternatives to rawhide.

Earth Animal No-Hide – Closest Match to Rawhide

Earth Animals No Hide peanut butter dog chews low calorie treats

Though they look like rawhide, Earth Animal No-Hide is just like the name says and does not contain any rawhide material.

Instead, No-Hide is made up of seven ingredients: Rice flour, agar-agar, organic eggs, olive oil, banana, pineapple, and your preferred protein choice.

Features

  • Hand rolled
  • Made in the USA
  • No chemicals, bleaches, additives, or formaldehyde
  • Long-lasting
  • Available in six flavors: Chicken, venison, beef, pork, salmon, and peanut butter

If you want to give your dog the most rawhide-like experience without the risks, try Earth Animal No-Hide.

Whimzees Natural Dental Chews – Hypo-allergenic Alternative

Whimzees Dental Treats variety pack healthy dental treat rawhide alternative

Whimzees are a vegetarian grain-free option that is perfect for dogs with food allergies.

Whimzees last a long time and promotes good dental health.

They come in various sizes and shapes, so dogs of all sizes can enjoy these rawhide alternatives.

Features

  • All-natural
  • Promotes good dental health
  • Safe for daily consumption
  • Available in a variety of form like Veggie Ears, Stix, and Veggie Sausage

I have been buying Whimzees Dental Treats for years, though they are a tad spendy, they are a safe and highly digestible option.

Possible Risks of Dog Chews

Providing your dog with safe things to chew on is key to a happy and healthy dog.

Dogs need things to chew to keep their jaws strong, their teeth clean[2], and the gums healthy.

Dog chews can also provide added protein, vitamins, and minerals, depending on which chew you choose.

However, all dog chews come with a variety of risks. The two most common risks associated with dog chews are choking and intestinal blockages.

But in addition to those primary hazards, dog chews carry other risks too, like:

  • Stomach upset
  • Broken, cracked, or chipped teeth
  • Splinters
  • Intestinal punctures
  • Indigestible
  • Chemical contamination
  • Allergies

Because no chew is 100% safe, it is critical dog parents keep an eye on their dog while they enjoy their treat.

Conclusion

Though rawhide dog chews have been around for years, they are not the safest option on the market.

Not only do rawhides lack any nutritional benefit, but they are also not easily digested.

Additionally, rawhide chews have been commonly associated with salmonella poisoning[3].

Thankfully, there are numerous great rawhide alternatives, many of which have nutritional and dental benefits.

Plus, rawhide alternatives come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and ingredients, so you will never have to worry about not being able to find the right option for your pup.

Resources

  1. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/are-rawhide-chews-dangerous-for-dog/
  2. https://jbs.camden.rutgers.edu/content/effect-dental-products-and-natural-chews-canine-oral-bacteria-lindsay-gallagher
  3. https://www.embracepetinsurance.com/waterbowl/article/dangers-of-rawhide
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