Rawhide Treats - Are They Dangerous For Your Dog?

These leathery treats have become popular over the years with their festive colours, designs, low price, availability and great marketing techniques. But, sometimes not all treats are created equal, and unfortunately, some companies do not have your dogs best interests at heart. Now you can make an educated decision to say yes, or no, to rawhide treats. 

Are they safe? Do they promote good dental health? Are they a good long lasting treat? Or, are they specifically designed to capture your eye with their bright colours and cute designs, rather than focussing on your pets health? 

These are the questions that have rolled around in pet owners minds for years, and before you rush out to pick the perfect present for your pooch, I wanted to ensure you are making the right educated decisions. 



Alright… the benefits. There are some, I know it! Think…. think...

To be fair, they are long lasting, so yes… they will provide some dental support. The extended chew time (like Bully Sticks and other treats) helps to scratch the sides of the teeth and aid in keeping them clean and reducing plaque build up. 

Outside of this, there are not really any other benefits… and the dangers far outweigh the benefits


This list will be a little longer. While rawhide treats do provide some dental support, they hold very little nutritional support, and are laced with toxic chemicals. How do you think they get those great red and green themed Christmas rawhide treats! 

The number one concern with Rawhide treats is a gastrointestinal obstruction. This occurs when something too large to pass through the GI tract and becomes lodged and damages the tissues surrounding it. This condition escalates fast, and can quickly become life threatening. 

- Studies conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) concluded a mortality rate of 25.8% of those dogs that suffered from an obstruction from a rawhide treat -

An animal can suffer from a partial or full obstruction. Partial meaning that some fluid can still past and around the blockage, where as a full obstruction mean just that… nothing is moving past it and everything is building up behind the obstruction. 

The longer an obstruction is left untreated the more life threatening it becomes. 

As a dog chews away at a rawhide treat it naturally becomes softer (after all it is a type of leather), and pieces are easily chewed off. Now, if rawhide was 100% digestible (like Bully Sticks), there would be no problem. But unlike Bully Sticks that are completely digestible, Rawhide remains that same size from when it goes it, to when it comes out. Hence why intestinal obstructions are the main concern. 

To diagnose a GI obstruction, your vet will palpate your dogs abdomen and likely take an x-ray to show any masses and/or gas build up in the intestines. If an obstruction is confirmed, surgery is required, along with supportive treatment and hospitalisation post-operatively. 

Signs and symptoms of a GI obstruction:

  • Vomiting
  • Diahorrea
  • Inappetance
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Arched back and restlessness
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Bloating 


Rawhide is either taken from cattle or horses and utilises the leather industries leftovers. It is not checked or monitored by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) because this is a byproduct of leather, not a food item. 

That’s right… it is not a food item!

Hides are collected from the kill floor of a slaughterhouse and placed directly into high-salt brines. They are soaked in an effort to slow down the decay. Most rawhide treats are manufactured in China as a way to keep costs down, and it can be months before these brined hides make it to the tanneries for their final manufacture. 

Once received by the tannery, each hide is soaked and treated with sodium sulphide liming (highly toxic and known to cause skin burns if you come into contact with it) to help separate the fat from the skin. The hair is removed by chemical and physical efforts, then the hide is rinsed again. 

Alright… at this point the hide has not even been shaped and it has been exposed to two different types of chemicals.


Next, it is soaked in another mass of chemicals designed to ‘puff up’ the hide so the layers can be separated. The outer layer is used for products such as clothing, bags, shoes, handbags etc. The inner layer is used for treats, along with glue, gelatin etc. 

Now it is ready for the tanner, but remember that it continues to decay as time passes, which can not be prevented completely, only slowed down. In an attempt to remove the putrid smell and to brighten the colour, it is now soaked in a hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach concoction to make it more visually appealing. All those chemicals just sitting there, waiting for your dog to chew on them. 

The chemical soaked hide is ready to be shaped/moulded (and glued), dyed, sprayed with flavouring/dental chemicals to create a delectable and highly toxic treat for your pooch. 

Watch this short video to see exactly how they are made.


Scary isn't it! If that wasn’t enough to shock you and leave you wanting to start a petition, then think about this…. 

- Studies conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) concluded a mortality rate of 25.8% of those dogs that suffered from an obstruction from a rawhide treat -


Rawhides are cheap, easily accessible and look pretty, therefore thousands of pets and their owners have fallen victim to their danger over the years. With no product warnings required, how are pet owners to know!

There are countless alternatives that are safe, natural, non-toxic and 100% digestible. 

There are a number of alternatives that are loved by thousands of treat hungry dogs, you can click here to view them. 

When selecting a treat for your furry family member, it is important to check a few key points:

  1. Is it Australian sourced? (some products such as Green Lipped Mussel can only be sourced outside of Australia, in places such as New Zealand, always check where treats are sourced) - Countless lives have been lost due to overseas treats.
  2. Is it natural?
  3. How many ingredients are included? Keep it simple, you only need one ingredient. 
  4. Does it serve the purpose you require? Dental health, training etc. 
  5. Is it appropriately sized for your dog? For example, Chicken necks will provide some dental health for small dogs, but very little for larger dogs. 
  6. Are you purchasing from a business with a like-minded vision on pet health and care?

Always reach out if you need some help selecting the best treat for your dogs needs. I am here to help and love chatting with pet parents. 

If you have any feedback or questions that you would like to share, please reach out to me. I would love to hear from you. 


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published