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The Nitty Gritty on Rawhide Chews for Dogs

Every pet store is packed with rawhide chews in nearly every shape, size, and even in a variety of colors. Usually an entire aisle of the store is dedicated to these seemingly mouth watering treats.  The shapes and packaging may look cool, funny, and you can even find cute holiday chews so your dog never has to miss out on the holiday fun.


For many years, rawhide chews have been marketed as being good for dogs but are they really?


What are rawhide chews for dogs made of?


Rawhide chews are typically made from the inner layer of a cow or horse hide that is then cleaned and ground or cut up.  The hide is the byproduct of the leather industry, not the food industry. Since most hides are processed outside of the United States they must be preserved, cured, treated with lime and other chemicals to create the leather we see on shoes, purses, etc. and other byproducts, like glue.


How are rawhide chews made?


Rawhide chews are created by (one hopes), washing, sanitizing, forming, rolling, shredding and pressing the hide into the final product, which is shipped to local pets stores and sold on the Internet.    Although the hides have been treated with brine, most of the time they must be bleached to improve color before they are formed into treats.


Rawhides made in the United States are mush fresher and don’t require the same processes as hides that have been laying around rotting for weeks and there are more laws governing the use of toxic chemicals in the United States.


Large manufacturers of most rawhide chews available in the United States have their processing done in overseas plants and are self governing, so we can only hope the people working in those plants are following our protocols.  We’ve found out that many of them haven’t been as the tremendous number of rawhide chews recalled over the years has testified too. 


Low quality imported rawhides are known to contain traces of:





Miscellaneous other toxic chemicals

Doesn’t this sound delicious? 


Also, since savvy dog owners are now scouring the stores and Internet for treats made in the USA, packing has become more Americanized and may even sport an American flag so be sure to read the entire package, and even then you can be deceived as manufacturers in America aren’t required to disclose the country of origin for the ingredients in their products.  


Are rawhides good for dogs?


Rawhides can be appealing since they don’t splinter and can provide a dog with hours of chewing pleasure.  They satisfy their natural instinct to chew and can help keep teeth and gums healthy. 

What are the downsides to rawhide chews?


The drawback of rawhide chews are the risks of the dog ingesting toxic chemicals, biting off chunks of chews, choking, or even suffering an intestinal blockage.

While given the number of chews purchased on the market, statistically, the risk to your dog may be low but if it does happen, the statistics quickly become irrelevant. 

Are there safe rawhides?


We are not advocating giving your dogs rawhides treats because we feel the risks don’t outweigh the benefits, but if you choose to give your dog a rawhide chew always buy a chew made in the United States and carefully read all packaging to ensure the manufacturer has stated that all the ingredients in the chews also originated in the United States.


Only buy chews that are made from one single sheet of leather rather than pressed or formed chews and avoid chews and have loose pieces.


Buy rawhide rolls and look at the end of each piece-avoid any rolls that have a nice thick outer layer surrounding thinner, formed scraps of leather.

Are there rawhide alternatives?

Thick, solid beef bully sticks are an excellent alternative to rawhide chews and are much healthier for your dog to ingest.  Raw size appropriate bones are also a safer option.

The Whole Dog Journal reports that the best quality rawhide treats are made from Wholesome Hide and can be purchased from:



cherrybrook.com; (800) 524-0820 FREE

KV Vet Supply


kvvet.com; (800) 423-8211 FREE



petextras.com; (651) 257-8534

West Coast Pet Supply




(800) 604-2263 FREE

See wholesomehide.com or call (888) 872-1110 FREE for more information.


If you’ve purchase an American made rawhide chew made from a thick single sheet of leather that  works for your power chewer, we want to hear from you!


Watch for our next installment on rawhide dog chews, The Dangers of Rawhide Treats that Manufacturers Don’t Want you to Know.


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