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Alternatives to Rawhides for Dogs

Rawhides are a fairly well-known, long-lasting chew for dogs. That Mutt is not opposed to giving dogs rawhides (do your own research), but this article is all about alternatives to rawhides. There are a lot of healthy options!

I found a bunch of rawhide alternatives for my 38-pound pup, Wally. He’s a Feist mix and a moderate to strong chewer.

I’m Barbara and I write regularly for That Mutt. I’m also a blogger over at K9s Over Coffee.

Are rawhides really bad for dogs?

Rawhides are made from the inner layers of beef hide.

They’re white or tan, hard and come in different shapes like knotted “bones,” braids, rolls, sticks, rings, etc.

Chewing is a really important part of any dog’s life, regardless of age. That’s because chewing:

  • Prevents boredom
  • Discourages destructive chewing
  • Exercises jaws
  • Cleans teeth
  • Soothes hurting puppy teeth and gums when they’re teething

However, many (not all) rawhide chews have been bleached and treated with unhealthy chemicals to preserve them. And they really aren’t raw at all!

Another issue with rawhides is they become soft once they’ve been chewed on for a while. That can be a problem because they now represent a choking danger if the dog swallows a large chunk. This can also become an intestinal obstruction danger.

That being said, some dogs do well with rawhides if you choose a natural brand made in the USA such as Wholesome Hide. Read more about rawhides here.

Rawhide alternatives for dogs

Now without further ado, here are the rawhide alternatives I’ve enjoyed giving Wally so far!

Just one more thing, I recommend to always supervise any chewing activity, regardless of your dog’s chewing habits. No chew is 100% safe.

Alternatives to rawhides for dogs

#1: Himalayan Dog Chews

Himalayan dog chews are solid, hard cheese chews that are made with yak and cow milk. In case you don’t know what a Yak is (I didn’t), they’re large domesticated, long-haired oxen used in the Himalayan region for their milk, meat and hide.

We tried the Himalayan Pet Supply brand.

Pros of Himalayan Chews for dogs

  • Typically just 4 ingredients – Yak Milk, Cow Milk, Salt, Lime Juice
  • Made without chemical preservatives or binding agents

Cons of Himalayan Chews

  • Pricey. A pack of 3 costs around $26.

How long do the Himalayan Chews last Wally?

These chews last Wally incredibly long. They are great alternatives to rawhides because:

  1. They truly are rock solid!
  2. He seems to prefer meaty chews, so cheese may just not intrigue him as much, which is why he only nibbles on them every now and then.

Where to buy Himalayan Chews

Amazon carries them, as do most independently owned pet retail stores. There are various brands of Himalayan chews available.

Himalayan chews as alternatives to rawhides
Wally and his Himalayan Chew after his first 20 minutes of chewing

#2: No-Hide Chews from Earth Animal

We are referring to the product No-Hide Chews made by the company, Earth Animal.

Like the name suggests, no-hide chews are truly alternatives to rawhides! They are made without the use of any animal hide. (They do include animal protein such as chicken, beef or pork.)

No-Hide Chews are not bleached and they do not contain any chemicals, according to Earth Animal’s website.

Pros of No-Hide Chews

  • Made in the USA
  • Free of bleaches, chemicals and formaldehydes
  • Easy digestibility
  • Come in 4 different sizes (stix, small, medium and large)
  • Available in 6 different proteins (chicken, beef, pork, venison, Atlantic salmon, peanut butter)

Cons of No-Hide Chews

  • Not a single-ingredient chew, but consists of 7 ingredients: Beef (the respective protein you chose), Brown rice flour, Agar-Agar, Organic Eggs, Olive Oil, Banana, Pineapple. Agar-Agar is a natural vegetable gelatin.
  • They give Wally gas for some reason!

How long do the No-Hide Chews last Wally?

One beef No-Hide lasts Wally pretty much exactly 40 minutes.

That’s a decent time for a chew for Wally, and it also leaves him tired out for two hours once he’s done chewing.

Where to buy No-Hides

Amazon carries them, as do most independently owned pet retailers.

No hide chews as alternatives to rawhides
Wally and his beef no-hide from Earth Animal

#3: Rabbit Ears and Lamb Ears

Rabbit and lamb ears are literally that – rabbit and lamb ears!

They’ve either been dehydrated or air-dried and don’t contain anything else.

Pros of rabbit and lamb ears for dogs

  • Single-ingredient, light weight chew
  • Can find them sourced, made and packaged in the USA
  • Rich in fiber
  • Great protein option for allergy prone dogs

Cons

  • Not a long-lasting chew at all!
  • These ears may be too small for gulpers (potential choking hazard)

How long do rabbit and lamb ears last Wally?

Not long, ha!

Wally eats rabbit ears as well as lamb ears in less than one minute.

Although they’re not a long-lasting chew, I still offer them on a regular basis as alternatives to rawhides. That’s because the hair of the ear is a great source of fiber for my raw-fed pup. Besides that, Wally goes bonkers for them!

Where to buy rabbit and lamb ears

You can buy lamb ears online from Raw Paws.

Another option is my single-ingredient dog treat & chew subscription box RealDog. I’m mentioning it later in the section titled Real Dog Chew Box.

All of their treats are air-dried and their selection rotates on a monthly basis. That being said, sometimes they include lamb ears, and they always come with hair.

Lamb ears as alternatives to rawhides
Wally with a lamb ear (left) and a rabbit ear (right)

#4: Bully Sticks

Bully sticks are dehydrated or oven-baked bull penises. Yep. May sound like a gross chewing option, but dogs love them! Wally is no exception to that rule!

Bully sticks are probably the most popular chews used as alternatives to rawhides. We recommend the brand Best Bully sticks.

Pros of bully sticks for dogs

  • Single-ingredient chew
  • Available in different sizes
  • Fully digestible

Cons of bully sticks for dogs

  • More on the pricier side of chews. For example, 20 6-inch bully sticks from Best Bully Sticks costs $45 on Amazon.

How long do bully sticks last a dog?

Medium size bully sticks last Wally about an hour, which is a fantastic time span for him! Once he’s done with a bully stick, he’s pooped for at least an hour, but usually two. That means 2-3 hours of downtime for me!

Where to buy Bully Sticks

Most pet food retailers carry a variety of bully sticks and Amazon carries them as well.

Bully sticks as alternatives to rawhides
Wally loving his bully stick

#5: Raw Meaty Bones as alternatives to rawhides

Raw meaty bones are an integral part of the raw dog food diet. The emphasis absolutely lies on RAW. Never ever feed your dog cooked bones. The cooking process turns them brittle which can cause serious damage to the dog’s mouth and intestines.

RMBs make up about 10% of the overall raw food intake, and can either be fed daily or several times per week. It all depends on the dog’s size and the daily amount of food he requires.

Wally eats the following raw meaty bones on a regular basis:

  • Duck necks/feet/wings/heads
  • Turkey necks/wings
  • Turkey legs/feet (only during turkey hunting season when the bf shoots one)

He also used to eat whole quails and chicken leg quarters, but no longer does after I had a food sensitivity test done on him.

Pros of raw meaty bones for dogs

  • Keep teeth clean and gums healthy
  • Exercise the jaws
  • Easily digestible
  • Natural source of calcium and phosphorus which is important for a balanced, raw dog food diet

Cons of raw meaty bones

  • May be gross to some people because they’re fed raw
  • Can be messy!
  • Toothless dogs or those with weak teeth can’t eat them unless they’ve been ground

How long do raw meaty bones last Wally?

Not long. Wally’s mastered the art of eating raw meaty bones quickly, yet safely. It takes him about a minute to eat a duck foot and 10 minutes to eat a duck head.

Tip: See That Mutt’s article How to Safely feed Your Dog Raw Bones for more information on this type of bone.

Where to buy Raw Meaty Bones for dogs

You can either buy raw meaty bones from your local grocery store or from online raw dog food retailers like Raw Paws Pet Food. For example, they carry duck necks and raw meaty beef bones.

Raw meaty bones as aternatives to rawhides
Wally eating a raw turkey leg/foot

#6: Kongs

Kongs are dog toys made of natural rubber. They’re hollow on the inside and can be filled with dog food or treats. That makes them a great dog food puzzle, especially when you freeze them for a few hours!

Pros of Kongs for dogs

  • Made of natural rubber
  • Made in the USA
  • Top-rack dishwasher safe
  • Bouncy
  • Provide mental exercise
  • Come in different sizes and chew strengths (Puppy, Classic, Senior, Extreme)

Cons

  • A bit on the pricier side of chew toys. A 2 pack of Kong Extremes costs around $30.

How long do Kong toys last?

A filled frozen, medium sized Kong Extreme (the black kind pictured below) lasts Wally about 45 minutes. I typically fill it with his raw dog food. He’ll either eat it outside on the patio, in the yard, or in his crate.

The actual toy itself should last most dogs several years.

Where to buy Kongs

You can find Kongs at brick and mortar pet retailers as well as on Amazon.

#7: VE Raw Bar Chews

Vital Essentials (VE) offers a variety of freeze-dried single-ingredient chews. They’re great alternatives to raw dog food if you’re not quite ready yet to make the full transition to raw. And they’re great, healthy alternatives to rawhides.

Tip for raw feeders: They also come in handy on road trips or hikes where it’s more difficult to bring raw dog food along.

Pros VE Raw Bar Chews

  • Large selection of different chews like duck heads, duck hearts, duck necks, bully sticks, chicken necks, chicken hearts, cod & salmon skins, moo sticks, pig ears & snouts, and turkey necks
  • Single-ingredient chews
  • Easily digestible
  • Support healthy teeth and gums
  • USA sourced, made, and packaged

Cons

  • They can only be purchased at pet supply stores, but not online.

Read my review of Vital Essentials Raw Bar here.

How long do they last Wally?

They only last Wally a few minutes, but I love that they’re single-ingredient chews and that they work well with his raw diet.

Where to buy VE Raw Bar Chews?

Check VE’s Where to Buy to find the closest pet supply store near you.

You can also get VE’s chews on Amazon.

Wally with a freeze-dried duck head from the VE Raw Bar

#8: Nylabone toys

Nylabone makes a variety of rubber and plastic dog chew toys of different textures. Some are stuffable, and others are solid chew toys.

Wally has the stuffable rubber chew toy from Nylabone called the Stuffable Chew Cone. It’s comparable to the Kong but it’s not quite as strong.

Pros of Nylabone toys

  • Bounces and rolls
  • Comes in 3 different sizes (small: up to 25 lb, medium: up to 35 lb, large: up to 50 lb)
  • Textured nubs to help clean teeth
  • Affordable price tag of $10-14, depending on the size of the toy

Cons

  • Not a good chewing option for aggressive chewers over 50 lb
  • Designed and tested in the USA, but made in China
  • Not as easy to clean as Kong toys because Nylabones aren’t (top rack) dishwasher safe

How long do they last Wally?

A stuffed and frozen Nylabone lasts Wally somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes.

Where to buy Nylabones

Amazon and similar online shopping platforms carry them, and so do most physical pet retail stores. Order here.

Wally with his stuffable Nylabone toy

#9: Real Dog Chew box – rawhide alternatives

I already briefly mentioned this box, so here come more details about it!

The Real Dog Chew box is a subscription box with single-ingredient chews only. Actually it’s one option of the Real Dog products.

They also offer a treat-only box as well as a combination box consisting of treats and chews, with the option of adding so-called super chews that last extra long.

(Super) chews Wally’s had are:

  • pig trotters
  • lamb femurs
  • rolled cow skins
  • duck wings
  • duck heads
  • turkey wings
  • turkey necks
  • steer pizzles (= bully sticks)
  • beef backstrap
  • beef gullet

This box is the only treat/chew subscription box I’ve subscribed to for several years! I had tried another one, but wasn’t overly impressed with it.

Order a box here

Pros of Real Dog

  • Single-ingredient, air-dried chews & treats
  • Affordable at $23 per chew box + free shipping
  • Sourced and packaged in the USA
  • 8-10 freshly packed chews of different strength levels. For example, chicken feet (quick chew) and turkey wings (longer-lasting chew)
  • Your dog’s allergies can be taken into consideration when placing an order

Cons of Real Dog

  • Wally’s not a huge fan of one of their super chews, the rolled cow skin, but personal preferences will obviously vary from pup to pup!
Wally’s not a huge fan of the rolled cow skin

How long do Real Dog Chews last Wally?

It depends on the individual chew. Wally needs about 5 minutes for an air-dried duck head and 15 minutes for an air-dried turkey wing.

Where to buy the Real Dog Chew box

You can order a chew box (or a combination box) at Real.Dog. Just FYI, the treat only box costs $21, the combination box costs $39, and the super chew add-on is an extra $8.00.

Read our full review of Real Dog here.

Wally and his treat and chew box (+ 1 super chew) from Real Dog

#10: Trachea & Gullet Chews – rawhide alternative

Trachea and gullet dog chews have been dehydrated and are usually made from beef, buffalo or lamb. They’re hollow on the inside and can easily be filled with treats or even your dog’s regular food.

Every now and then, I order raw beef trachea for Wally and fill it with smaller chunks of his raw dog food. They also make a great, longer lasting chew if you go ahead and freeze it after you’ve filled it.

Pros of trachea chews

  • High in glucosamine and chondroitin, which make them great for joint health!
  • Single-ingredient chew
  • Easily digestible
  • Come in different sizes

Cons

  • They’re very crunchy, so they’re not a good fit for dogs with weak teeth

How long do trachea chews last Wally?

Non-frozen trachea & gullet chews last Wally a few minutes. Once they’ve been frozen and filled, they keep him busy for 20-30 minutes.

Where to buy Trachea & Gullet Chews

Online shopping platforms like Raw Paws and Amazon carry trachea & gullet chews, and so do many physical pet retailers.

Air-dried beef gullet filled with raw ground rabbit

Another alternatives to rawhides I personally don’t offer Wally: Antlers

Dog chew antlers are typically made of antlers from elk or deer.

Pros of antlers for dogs

  • Long-lasting chew
  • Single-ingredient chews

Cons of antlers for dogs

  • Not a good option for aggressive chewers

How long do they last Wally?

Surprise! I actually don’t give Wally antlers for chewing purposes. In my opinion, they’re too hard and can potentially cause fractured teeth.

I’m not willing to take that risk after I witnessed my former dog Buzz break one of his molars on a smoked beef bone.

I do want to emphasize that it was a beef bone, and not an antler. However, I’ve been a little paranoid ever since about harder recreational chews.

This was before my raw feeding days and before I understood that weight bearing bones from large grazing animals are usually too dense for chewing purposes.

This is obviously my personal decision, and I’m sure that antlers can be a good chewing option for some dogs.

Where to buy Antlers for dogs

You can buy antlers on Amazon or at most physical pet retail stores.

Now we’d like to hear from you!

Now it’s your turn! Has your pup had any of these chews? Do you know of any additional rawhide alternatives?

If you have any questions, let us know in the comments!

Additional resources:

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt. She is certified in raw dog food nutrition from Dogs Naturally Magazine and the author of three ebooks about balanced raw dog food. She is a blogger at K9s Over Coffee.

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