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.
Alternatives to Rawhide
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 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 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 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 are not edible like rawhide, but they are a great alternate for canines who like to chew.
- 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.
- 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 can also be offered in place of rawhide.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.