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Did you know that rawhide chews are mostly indigestible? Did you know that rawhide chews can be dangerous to our dogs? In this post, I share five alternatives for pet parents looking to safely satisfy their chew drive.
Benefits of Rawhide Chews
Our dogs love to chew and rawhide chews have been great for their teeth, for boredom, and to alleviate anxiety. Rawhide chews keep our dogs' jaws strong, their teeth clean, and their breath fresh.
What are Rawhide Chews?
The ones we've purchased are made of beef hide. They're spun in circles and dried, and if you look closely, they're held together with adhesive (should our dogs be consuming this?). Some rawhide chews are flavored, but Rodrigo doesn't do well with the flavored ones, so we've just purchased the plain ones.
Dangers of Rawhide Chews
There is a real risk of blockage. Our dogs sometimes swallow entire chunks at a time, and since they're largely indigestible, these can get stuck in a dog's throat (I've pulled many out) and intestinal track. Rodrigo enjoyed rawhide chews until he had to pass a few sharp pieces. They passed right before he was due for a trip to the emergency vet and it was a painful process for him and terrifying for me.
There is a risk of contamination due to the chemicals used to create them (remember the glue I mentioned?).
They can cause an upset tummy. As I shared, Rodrigo can't handle the flavored ones; there are other dogs that have shown that they're allergic to the ingredients used to create the rawhide chews.
Alternatives to Rawhide Chews
This was an amazing discussion that I had in a LinkedIn group, and I was skeptical about some of the recommendations, but then I tried them out and was happily surprised.
1) Bully Sticks
Some people believe that bully sticks are no better than rawhide chews, but I disagree. Our dogs love these, and I buy them in bulk. They smell awful, even the ones that are “low odor” bully sticks.
Bully sticks can be expensive. We have discovered a great source of quality bully sticks; PawStruck.com. Yep, they still smell, but for the price and the joy it gives our dogs (and the quiet time for the humans), the smell is worth it. My favorites are the Monster bully sticks:
My dogs have never shown any interest in carrots, and I thought the small, snack ones would be a choking hazard. Someone suggested I try again so I picked up a few full-size carrots and they love them. This is a healthy, affordable snack that our dogs love.
Carrots don't have the lasting power of a bully stick or satisfy my dogs' chew drive, however, they are a healthy snack (especially for overweight dogs) and sometimes having a treat is what my dogs need to get them to settle down even if they don't get the benefits of a long chewing session.
3) Raw Bones
We just started buying raw bones for our dogs. Little Riley loved her bone, and I smile whenever I remember her going at it with gusto. There are cooked bones at the pet store – avoid these – cooked bones can splinter and wreak havoc on your dog's intestinal tract. They can also break your dog's teeth (just learned this one recently from an unhappy dog owner).
It's important to know our dog's chewing habits so I always give bones under supervision so that I can take them away if they begin to splinter or one of my dogs tries to swallow a big piece.
I order their bones through a local raw food co-op and their favorites are:
- Duck necks
- Duck frames
- Lamb necks
- Beef knuckle bones
- Buffalo knuckle bones
Order your raw bones and healthy chews from Raw Paws Pet Food.
It's not a good idea to leave bones in the yard for later, because of (1) resource guarding, (2) wild animals, and (3) the bones get harder over time. We do not give our dogs weight-bearing bones; imagine the strength to hold up a 2-ton cow.
Himalayan chews are healthy, all-natural, long-lasting, and tasty chews made from Yak's milk and our dogs go NUTS for them. I don't recommend starting with a monster chew because you want to see how your dogs do with this dairy product first. In the beginning, these chews gave our dogs diarrhea if I gave them one whole chew (just the regular size). So I only allowed them to enjoy these chews for 15-20 minutes at a time – keeping my dogs occupied while I took a call or dusted the living room.
5) Real.Dog Subscription – Chews Only
I was introduced to a company called Real.Dog and they offer treats via a monthly subscription service. I haven't been very impressed with subscription services for pet parents, but this one caught my attention because everything in the box was something I loved for my dogs.
Real.Dog offers a treat-option and a chews-only option; we receive the later every month and it has the perfect amount of treats for a multi-dog home. And it's right within my budget at less than $25 a month.
What About Deer Antlers?
I‘ve read that deer and elk naturally shed their antlers every spring, and those naturally shed antlers are gathered, cleaned, cut to create a great option for strong chewers. I used to buy antlers for my dogs but we stopped giving our dogs antlers when they started breaking them down quickly. For a couple of our dogs, deer antlers don't last as long, and I was worried about broken teeth.
Fans of Rawhide Chews
There are plenty of people who believe rawhide chews are perfectly safe for dogs and I was one of them until Rodrigo nearly ended up at the emergency vet. Today, I no longer believe that these chews are natural or safe. While they did an amazing job of occupying our dogs' time, the risk is greater than the benefit.
Bully sticks and the other chews I recommend don't last as long, however, I've found that a great substitute is a long walk before settling our dogs down with a natural chew and a nap. Works every time.
Looking for More Alternatives? Click the Image Below:
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