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Best Rawhide Alternatives for Chihuahuas (and Other Dogs Too!)

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Rawhides have been a popular chew for dogs for years; you may have even given your chihuahua rawhide a few times.

However, they leave much to be desired. Not only do they become gooey, messy, and just plain gross, they sometimes leave stains on carpet and furniture.

Even worse than the yuck factor, they have the potential to cause painful and expensive injuries. Before offering another rawhide, consider the risks.

Many veterinarians do not recommend giving dogs rawhide chews because they are a choking hazard and they pose a risk of an intestinal blockage.

Alternatives to Rawhide

brindle chihuahua with chew treat in mouth

Thankfully, there are lots of people who love their dogs just as much as you love yours who have thought of fun alternatives to traditional rawhide chews. What a good time to be a dog!

If your chihuahua loves to chew, or you have a teething puppy who needs to chew, here are alternatives to traditional rawhide to consider purchasing:

Bully Sticks

Bully sticks are a tried and true favorite of many canines. Made of beef, these long lasting chews offer a tantalizing odor that is sure to get your dog’s attention.

Bully Stick Pros

  • The most significant benefit of bully sticks is their ability to help maintain dental health. By regularly offering your dog bully sticks to chew, you will likely notice an improvement with their dental health, or the maintenance of clean teeth.
  • Though they will not last forever, they will last for awhile. Bully sticks are great for keeping canines occupied.
  • Brands such as Best Bully Sticks use free range, grass-fed beef, and no harmful chemicals or additives.
  • Bully Sticks do not splinter like rawhide does.
  • Bully Sticks are easy to digest.
  • If your canine has the unpleasant habit of chewing things that they should not, the odor of bully sticks is a great way to attract them to chew on something appropriate.
  • Though most frequently sold in stick form, they are made in many different shapes. If your canine struggles to hold the stick with their paws, search for them in other forms. You are sure to find a shape they will be happy to chew.
  • While they do get soft in a similar fashion to rawhides, only the end that is being chewed gets gooey, which prevents the choking hazard that rawhides pose. Bully sticks also dry quickly.

Bully Stick Cons

  • Bully sticks can be expensive, but as an owner of the smallest breed, the cost is less of a concern.
  • Bully sticks will shorten over time as they are chewed. If you notice the bully stick has shortened to the point that your furry friend is trying to eat it whole, you should take the stick away.
  • This one is a pro and a con. There is only one ingredient, pro. The one ingredient is beef “pizzle“, which is penis. Most owners would consider that a con.

Himalayan Chews


Himalayan Chews are great alternatives to rawhide as well.

fawn chihuahua on sofa chewing Himalayan chew treat

Himalayan Chew Pros

  • Himalayan chews last the longest out of the edible alternatives listed herein.
  • They are made naturally with no preservatives and contain one ingredient; cheese.
  • Some people even eat these, indicating that the process they are made with is safe.
  • Another bonus to these chews is that they are virtually waste free; when your chihuahua chews their Himalayan cheese down to a small size, you can microwave the end piece, making the most of your money while giving your favorite furry friend a fun snack.

Himalayan Chew Cons

  • Himalayan Chews are very hard, but do soften as they are chewed. If your canine tends to chew with all their strength, this could pose the hazard of breaking teeth.

Fish Skin Chews


Fish Skin chews are a natural chew option packed with health benefits.

Fish Skin Pros

  • By purchasing fish skin chews, you are helping reduce waste. These chews ensure that every part of the fish is used.
  • Fish Skin chews are a good source of Omega-3s, which offer benefits like improved skin and coat health, and joint lubrication.
  • Fish skin chews are ideal for canines who suffer from allergies; they contain one ingredient, fish skin, and can help heal dry skin and dull coats.
  • The fish skin odor can entice your canine companion to chew on the fish skin rather than pillows and shoes.

Fish Skin Cons

  • Fish skin does have an odor, which many people find unpleasant.
  • A few canines may experience digestive upset from chewing fish skin, such as diarrhea.
  • Inspect the fish skin chew before offering it to ensure that it is not small enough to be a choking hazard. Any small pieces should not be offered.
  • Some owners report that these chews do not last very long.

Deer Antlers

Deer Antlers are not edible like rawhide, but they are a great alternate for canines who like to chew.

Antler Pros

  • Antlers last longer and are more natural than synthetic, plastic, or rubber bones.
  • They do not have an odor.
  • Antlers are not dyed so they do not stain carpet or furniture.
  • The marrow in antlers offers health benefits; by chewing them, canines receive calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.

Antler Cons

  • Antlers can splinter as they are chewed, which can cause dental injuries.
  • If you have a power chewer, antlers can break their teeth.
  • Stepping on an antler hurts.

Frozen Carrots

Frozen carrots can also be offered in place of rawhide.

Carrot Pros

  • Carrots are a low calorie snack that can help keep teeth clean.
  • Carrots can be served in a variety of ways. A fun way to serve carrots is by combining them with apple slices in water and freezing them to make a big popsicle treat with snacks inside for your dog to enjoy on a hot day.
  • Compared to other chews, carrots are inexpensive and something you probably already have in your fridge.

Carrot Cons

  • Carrots are not a long lasting chew.
  • Some canines do not digest carrots easily.

Chew Alternatives Shared By Readers 

We got some great comments so be sure to read them for some great chewie ideas.

The following are what some of our readers give to their dogs as an alternative to rawhide chews. 

OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews

I bought some of these for my own dogs  (thanks Diane for the recommendation) and they do like them though the second time I gave them one, Lucas went and buried his.  

OraVet Chews Pros

  • Great for their teeth
  • These seem to last a long time. Some people on Amazon said their dogs ate them quickly but they had to work at it. However my dogs took quite awhile to get through theirs.
  • They help keep their breath fresh.
  • These are made in the USA.
  • Many vets recommend these.
  • Perfect size for our little guys. 

OraVet Chews Cons

  • They are individually wrapped which is kind of a pain to have to unwrap them but I can see where this would sometimes be a plus to throw a few in your bag when you are traveling. And it would keep them fresh longer.
  • This will turn your dog’s poop green. It’s completely normal and nothing to be concerned about but you should be aware of it.

Duck Jerky

Sarah Ann told me about these. She gets the Golden Rewards brand and there are other flavors besides duck. You can get them in smaller size bags so you can try them out and see if your dog likes them (they will).

Below is a photo of my 4 when I was opening the package. The duck jerky was by far their favorite treat.

my 4 dogs begging for duck jerky

Golden Rewards Duck Jerky Pros

  • These are easy to find. I got them from  my local Walmart.
  • There are different size packages available.
  • There are different flavors available.
  • There’s only one ingredient: duck. No by-products or fillers.
  • Dogs go crazy for these.

Golden Rewards Duck Jerky Cons

  • My dogs gobbled these down quickly so they don’t last long.
  • Made in China.

Virbac Enzymatic Chews

These are in my shopping cart on Amazon but I haven’t ordered them yet. Suzanne told us about these. I do remember seeing them at my vet’s office last week when I was there with Ziggy.

Virbac Enzymatic Chews Pros

  • These are vet recommended.
  • They are great for cleaning your dog’s teeth.
  • Dogs love them (they got all 5 star reviews on Amazon).

Virbac Enzymatic Chews Cons

  • These smell bad.

Tips to consider when offering chews

chihuahua chewing a rawhide chew

When treating your furry friend to fun chews, keep the following tips in mind:

  • If your canine struggles with tummy trouble when he enjoys an edible chew, consider giving him coconut oil. The American Kennel Club recommends coconut oil to aid with digestion.
  • Always supervise when offering chews whether they are edible or not.
  • Be sure to keep an eye on the chew as it is enjoyed; take it away once it becomes short enough to be a choking hazard. Four inches or less of a chew is considered a choking hazard, even for pocket sized pups.
  • Check your furry friend’s teeth and the chew when they are finished chewing to ensure that they are not chewing too hard and breaking their teeth.
  • You should always be able to take a chew from your canine companion. If your attempt to take the chew is met with growling, snapping or biting, you have a resource guarder on your hands.

Have you tried any of these or does your chew on something else? What does your dog like to chew on? Leave a comment and let us know. 

Also if there is a good alternative to rawhides not on this list, please tell us about it in the comments and I’ll add it to this post.

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Angie

Sunday 19th of April 2020

I need some recommendations please. I rescued a beautiful 8lb chi mix and although I don’t know his age he did get some teeth extracted. I tried so hard to brush his teeth and need some advice for him to chew maybe to get them clean. I did try oravet and that was when I first saw how sensitive his tummy is. Poor guy anything I give him has effects on his little tummy. Any recommendations for rawhide alternatives besides the yak cheese? Thank you so much.

Cathy

Monday 20th of April 2020

How about baby carrots Angie. They are great for chewing on and will help with the cleaning. My dogs also have an Ark Naturals chew every morning but that may upset his tummy too.

Ms. Linda Williams

Sunday 18th of August 2019

Hello Cathy My now 8 month old Chi actively seeks out forbidden objects to chew on while leaving her doggie toys strewn about and neglected. Shoes, toddler toys, pens, pencils, emery boards, the odd bottle cap, her woven toy basket, any and all device charger cords that she can manage to reach .. I've had to move and rearrange houseplants to keep her from ripping the leaves. Any scrap of paper she finds (including magazines & books) gets ripped to shreds. We have to keep the bathroom door shut so she doesn't go in and rip up a whole roll of toilet paper. She gets plenty of exercise every day, but she still chews and rips up stuff. I will definitely be checking out some of these recommended chews to see if her behavior changes.

Cathy

Monday 19th of August 2019

Yeah that's typical puppy behavior. They always seem to want what they aren't supposed to have. Fortunately they usually grow out of it.

Diane Deichmann

Saturday 10th of August 2019

My vet recommended Oravet chews to clean my mixed breed chihuahua 's teeth. She loves them.

Cathy

Saturday 10th of August 2019

Thanks for the info Diane! I just ordered some for my dogs to try.

Shirley Jennings

Friday 9th of August 2019

I give my chihuahua carrots for snacks but never thought about putting them in the freezer. Thanks for the information, I enjoy your newsletters

Cathy

Saturday 10th of August 2019

You're welcome Shirley and I'm so glad you enjoy the newsletter.

Lisa

Friday 9th of August 2019

Feeling greatful....thank you for this informative newsletter!!!! We adopted our Baby ( yes, thats her name :) during the holidays last year when great food was abundant, now we're struggling to get her on pet food; she'll only eat treats you mentioned. We'll keep trying, but she'll loves turkey w/gravy, baked chicken, fish, etc....help!

Cathy

Friday 9th of August 2019

Hi Lisa, It's perfectly okay to give her turkey (go easy on the gravy), chicken and fish as long as you aren't adding heavy seasonings and breadings to it. Just plain meats and add a little veggies to it (green beans, sweet potatoes,etc). If you'd rather have her eat commercial dog foods, have you tried any of the fresh/frozen delivery services? We have had tried several and my dogs LOVE all of them. They aren't cheap but it's not bad for a small dog. ANd the food is human grade quality. The ones I recommend are Ollie's, The Farmer's Dog and Pet Plate. Those are the ones we personally have used. We currently are using Ollies but since I have 4 dogs (my 3 small dogs and my son's big dog) I add the fresh food to some kibble and the dogs gobble up the fresh food first.