The effects of rawhide chews on dogs

Updated March 27, 2017

Many dog owners like to give their furry friend a treat. For some dog owners, this means a rawhide chew or a treated cow hide. Dogs love the flavour and taste of the treat, and owners like giving their pets rawhides because they can occupy the animal for a long time. However, some veterinarians suggest that rawhide chews are potentially dangerous for dogs, although others maintain that they are a healthy treat.

Dental Health

Rawhide chews provide dental benefits for dogs. Some chews are specifically designed to freshen your dog's mouth, but even regular rawhide chews will help in that regard. Chewing helps to stimulate a dog's saliva, which helps improve bad breath. Rawhide chews will also remove plaque and keep your dog's teeth whiter. Rawhide bones also help provide relief to puppies, which experience teething pain just as human babies do.

Behavioural Benefits

All dogs have a biological instinct to chew. Providing your dog with rawhide chews will help to curb its chewing on less appropriate items, such as your furniture or your shoes. Rawhide chews can provide stimulating activity for your dog or puppy and help prevent boredom. Encouraging your dog to chew on a rawhide from an early age will form a habit it will continue.

Dangers and Risks

Like pet food, rawhide chews are not regulated in any way. Some foreign manufacturers of rawhide chews use arsenic as a preservative. Other dangerous additives can include antibiotics, lead and insecticides. Rawhide chews have also been recalled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because they contained salmonella. Rawhide chews can pose a choking hazard. If not digested properly, rawhides can form a blockage in the intestines Some veterinarians caution that the frequent chewing of rawhides can lead to gastric irritation, vomiting and extreme discomfort.


Scientists have studied the effect of rawhide chews on dogs. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that showed no ill effects of rawhide chewing by dogs. In a test group, no negative effects were noted even in dogs that were fed three rawhide strips a day. According to Pet Education, rawhide chews are digestible, and most of the time small pieces of rawhide will easily pass through a dog's digestive tract.

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About the Author

Ireland Wolfe has been writing professionally since 2009, contributing to Toonari Post, Africana Online and Winzer Insurance. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Arts in mental health counseling. She is also a licensed mental health counselor, registered nutritionist and yoga teacher.