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.
So what are our options?
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. Recently, Costco has been providing a package of 12 long bully sticks for $25 – we would buy a package and cut them in half making 24 – our goal was the make them last longer, but with three dogs, that’s not a possibility for us.
Update: We no longer feed bully sticks to our dogs, because of the odor. Having three dogs chowing down on bully sticks is heaven for me, because it guarantees and expended period of peace. My boyfriend put his foot down, because he hated the smell.
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.
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).
We buy our bones from our local pet stores; they have freezers to store the bones.
Update: We no longer feed our dogs raw bones. Shortly after this article was published, our dogs started getting sick (vomiting) from the bones, which showed us that raw bones weren’t a great choice for our dogs. We do give our dogs raw meaty bones, but takes the treat away when they work away the meaty part. We also feed our dogs knuckle bones, which they can chew on for a longer period. We do not give our dogs weight bearing bones; imagine the strength to hold up a 2 ton cow.
4) Life’s Abundance Pork Treats - Life’s Abundance Porkhide Bones are gourmet chew treats made with 100% natural pork skin and have a lasting, mouth-watering flavor that our dogs love! These yummy treats are naturally high in protein, low in fat and are highly digestible. The shape of the bone fits inside the mouth for maximum contact, which helps promote healthy teeth and gums. And they are safe for dogs of all ages. Your dog will love these safe, healthy and delicious treats!
There are many treats in the store that look like the Life’s Abundance treats (I found some at Target), but they’re made with the chemicals that Life’s Abundance avoids. You can order these treats (and other great products) through our rep, Keil Family Farm, at Pure American Pet Products.
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.
Nicole of Bright Eyes Pet Wellness (where we purchase our non-toxic flea and tick treatment) recommends Scout & Zoes Natural Antler Dog Chew. This is a company that uses antlers that are naturally shed.
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.
Now it’s your turn to share your tips – what do you give your dogs to satisfy their instinct to chew?