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Health & Wellness

Is it safe to give my dog a rawhide bone?

Can puppies get in on the rawhide fun, too?

Choosing the safest toys for your dog can be tricky when deciding between hard versus soft toys or weighing the benefits between tennis balls versus frisbees.

Especially when it comes to rawhides, which are dog chews made from animal skin (mostly from cows, but it can be from horses or pigs). Depending on what kind of eater your dog is, rawhides may not be the safest choice.

“The safety of rawhides depends on the dog,” Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. “An aggressive chewer who tears off and swallows pieces of rawhide may be at an increased risk of choking or a gastrointestinal obstruction.”

Are rawhides bad for dogs?

Rawhide chews satisfy dogs’ natural chewing instincts, but Dr. McCullough says there are safer alternatives. These chews can cause dogs to experience broken teeth, allergic reactions (like if your dog has a beef allergy), gastrointestinal obstruction, obesity (as they’re high in calories) and behavioral issues, like being territorial over the rawhide.

There’s also a risk that the rawhide can be contaminated, which is when bacteria latch to the chew during the production process, she shares. 

Each pup is different, so talk to your veterinarian before serving your dog a rawhide chew. If your veterinarian discourages your dog from eating rawhides, Dr. McCullough recommends rubber toys stuffed with treats as an alternative to the chews. However, she reminds pet parents to monitor their pups when letting them chew on any toy or treat. 

RELATED: With these tips, your dog will always be entertained at home

Can puppies have rawhides?

If you’re a puppy parent, you may want to avoid giving your pup a rawhide chew. Not only are puppies at risk for choking or gastrointestinal obstruction, but their baby teeth are more likely to break from chewing on rawhides, Dr. McCullough says. 

Beefhide vs. rawhide

All beefhide is rawhide, but not all rawhide is made from beef, Dr. McCullough explains. Instead, beef just indicates where the animal product came from. 

“The best way to avoid harmful ingredients is to choose rawhides from a reputable manufacturer. Ask your veterinarian if your dog is a good candidate for a rawhide and which brands they recommend,” she adds. 

So, whether it’s a beefhide or regular rawhide chews, you always want to ask your veterinarian before serving, as every dog’s chewing habits are different. If your veterinarian says it’s OK to serve this treat, keep your eyes on your pup while they enjoy it. Reach out to your veterinarian or emergency veterinary hospital if your pup bites off a little more rawhide than they can chew to get them the help they need. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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