Best Rawhide Chews Substitutes for Dogs

A dog is eating a rawhide chew
It’s one of the most affordable ways to entertain your chew lovin’ pup…

But is rawhide actually good for your dog? 

Recent studies have pointed towards rawhide being a questionable chew due to the methods used in its processing. Luckily, there are great alternatives/substitutes to rawhide that can provide the same chewing benefits. Read them below!


First, let’s explore more into what rawhide is.

What is Rawhide?

Rawhide is the inner layer of skin from livestock animals such as cows, horses, pigs and so on. This skin is cut out, dried and processed in meat manufacturing facilities to make chewable treats for dogs. Rawhide chew treats can take many shapes and forms. Additional additives and flavouring may be added to make the chews palatable. It is not uncommon for rawhide manufacturers to use various chemicals & bleach during the cleaning process.

Rawhide is the inner layer of skin from livestock animals.
Rawhide chew treats come in different shapes and forms.

Most rawhide chews are made after extensive bleaching and processing.

Why is Rawhide common?

Rawhide is common among dog owners who are looking for an inexpensive way to satisfy their heavy chewer. It can be a very enjoyable time for your dog to chew their way through the raw hide. This chewing can help naturally clean their teeth and acts as a form of mental stimulation.

Golden retriever chewing a rawhide chew on the couch

Chewing can be satisfying for your dog to help calm nerves and bust boredom.

What are the dangers of Rawhide?

Although rawhide can be a great chew treat for your dog, there are certain dangers associated with feeding them. 

1. Rawhide can be a choking hazard for smaller dogs

As your dog chews through the rawhide, it will naturally become softer and stringier. There is a greater chance for small dogs to chew off a bigger piece than they are able to fully swallow. It poses a real risk of getting stuck inside your small dog’s throat and is a serious choking hazard.

Rawhide can be a choking hazard for smaller dogs

 Rawhide that turns stringy is a potential choking hazard for dogs.

2. Rawhide is treated with toxic chemicals

Meat facilities that extract rawhide treat it with a number of different chemicals such as sodium sulfide and hydrogen peroxide. This mainly happens during the cleaning process where the fat and hair are being removed and the skin is being bleached. Rawhide tends to retain these chemical contents after the process and can be highly toxic to your dog. 

Bleached rawhide treated with toxic chemicals

Formaldehyde, sodium sulfide and mercury have been found when testing rawhide chews.

3. Rawhide contains additives and preservatives

To keep rawhide from rotting, it is treated with preservatives like formaldehyde and arsenic. These artificial preservatives can seriously threaten your dog’s long term health by putting them at a greater risk for diseases like cancer.

Dogs might love chewing rawhide but it has a lot of long term health disadvantages.

4. Rawhide can cause digestive blockages

Unlike natural dog chews, rawhide is not very digestible by your dog’s body. Very often, pet owners report that rawhide appears to be in the same form in their dog’s poop as it was when they were chewing on it. There is a considerable chance of rawhide getting stuck inside your dog’s intestines as they pass through the body.


Rawhide can cause digestive blockages

Now comes the critical question…

What are the best alternatives/substitutes to rawhide for dogs?

Fortunately there are some great alternatives to rawhide for dogs.

1. Natural chews

Chews from animal parts like feet, ears, neck and such make great chews for dogs since they are natural and digestible. Most dogs will face no problems with their digestion when given all-natural chews. 

Charmy Air-Dired Duck Neck Dog Chew TreatCharmy Air-Dried Rabbit Feet Dog Chew

2. Bully sticks

Dog owners that have heavy chewers often use bully sticks to satisfy their dog’s chewing cravings. Bully sticks are made from beef pizzles (beef penis) by drying and draining. They are an all-natural chew that can last as a good chew for a considerable amount of time. 

A jar of beef bully stick dog chews

3. Meaty Bones

Raw bones are an excellent choice for an all-natural dog chew. It contains nutrients like;
  • Vitamin A, D and E 

  • Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorus

  • Iron 

  • Fatty acids

  • Amino acids

Dogs are eating Charmy Air-Dried Natural Dog Chew Treats

Photo from Charmy Family, check out @charmypetbox for more!


In conclusion, there are many viable alternatives available to rawhide for dogs. The amount of chemicals used to clean, preserve and prepare the rawhide make it an artificial chew that can be toxic to your dog. The added risk of choking as well as poor digestibility make it a subpar chew for dogs.

The safest and most beneficial chews are all-natural. Examples are;

Duck Feet & Duck Wing

Charmy Air-Dried Duck Feet Dog Chew TreatsCharmy Air-Dried Duck Wing Dog Chew Treat

Duck Neck & Beef Tendon

Charmy Air-Dried Duck Neck Dog Chew TreatCharmy Air-Dried Beef Tendon Dog Chew

Rabbit Feet 

Charmy Air-Dried Rabbit Feet Dog Chew Treat

Bully Sticks & Raw Bone

Bully sticksraw bones

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