Did you know that rawhide chews are mostly indigestible? Did you know that rawhide chews can be dangerous to our dogs?
The 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 made of…
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.
What are the risks 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 their intestinal track.
There is a risk of contamination due to the chemicals used to create them (remember the glue I mentioned?).
And they can cause an upset tummy. Like 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.
Options when you have a dog with a strong chew drive
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 these 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 are also expensive. We have discovered a great source of quality, US made and sourced 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.
Save money today on bully sticks and support Keep the Tail Wagging by shopping PawStruck.com.
2) Carrots – 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.
Our dog, Sydney, needs to lose 5 pounds. Giving her carrots satisfies her need to chew without giving her the extra calories that she doesn’t need.
We get our carrots in bulk from Costco or from a local farmer.
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 wreck havoc on your dog’s intestinal track. They can also break your dog’s teeth (just learned this one recently from an unhappy dog owner).
Update: Shortly after this article was published, our dogs started getting sick (vomiting) from the bones, because the marrow was too rich and they were on a kibble diet – the rich marrow was slow to digest due to the kibble, which is harder (and takes longer) to digest.
Today, our dogs are on a raw food diet and marrow bones are perfectly fine. We source our bones from Only Natural Pet, Pet360 and through a raw food co-op.
Order your raw bones from Only Natural Pet and Pet 360: Nature’s Variety and Primal.
We do give our dogs turkey necks, beef knuckle bones and beef knee caps. The dogs can eat the turkey necks completely (I cut them in half so they have 2 treats) and I take away the other bones when they’ve worn down to a size that risks a choking hazard or the dogs are tired of them.
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.
4) Jones Natural Chews - shortly after I gave up my dream of building a Life’s Abundance empire in my home, I discovered Jones Natural Chews. We give our dogs their pork ears, bully sticks, and the ligament with bone (a favorite with our pack).
Jones Natural Chews offers chew treats that are sourced and made in the US. I don’t feel comfortable giving our dogs their smoked bones (aren’t they still cooked?) with the exception of the ligament with bone. I do know many dog owners who swear by them and have never had an issue.
Jones Natural Chews is a company dog owners can trust that puts out quality product our dogs love.
5) Dear Antlers – I’ve read that deer and elk naturally shed their antlers every spring an those naturally shed antlers ae gathered, cleaned, cut to create a great option for strong chewers. I always buy the antlers with blunt edges. Rodrigo was able to easily chew threw the ones with sharp edges, but we’ve had blunt edged ones for a year now with barely a dent. All three dogs love them.
If you have a dog who does well with antlers, I recommend great things about Scout and Zoe’s natural shed dear antlers.
Update: We stopped giving our dogs antlers when they started breaking them down quicky; they don’t last as long with our chewers and I was worried about broken teeth. I was told that it depends on how the antlers are treated; if they have a glossy cover on them, then they don’t last as long. I’m not sure how accurate this is; so, better safe than sorry.