Rawhide strips are a common favorite among dog owners and their furry friends due to being a relatively inexpensive and clean treat.
However, these rawhide bone chew treats can actually be detrimental to a dog’s health for a variety of reasons.
Namely, rawhide chews are not particularly digestible, and they tend to come in all manners of hard, angular shapes and sizes.
So, should you be worried if your dog swallowed rawhide strips?
The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding “Yes”.
A swallowed rawhide can not only be a significant choking hazard, but it can also very well lead to intestinal blockages and other life-threatening conditions that require an immediate trip to the vet.
In this article, I’m going to help you understand the dangers of giving your dog rawhide strips, as well as exactly what to do if your dog swallows one (or a few).
Finally to finish off, I’ll give you some better alternatives to try with your dog instead!
(Side note: I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. From time to time I like to recommend products in my posts that I feel may truly be helpful to readers and their pets. If you do end up buying something by clicking the links on my site, I may receive a tiny amount of commission from the big guys.
And if you do end up buying something- Thank you! I really appreciate your support and I’ll always do my best to put out more quality content for you 🙂 )
Even if you don’t have time to read through the rest of the article (though you really should!), here are some key points to remember if your dog has swallowed rawhide strips:
- If your dog swallowed a rawhide, it may be at risk of a life-threatening complication. While it’s possible for a dog to pass rawhide pieces, sometimes a dog will either choke or suffer an intestinal blockage which are both emergency situations.
- It’s important not to panic if your dog happens to swallow a rawhide. However, it’s still important for you to take quick and immediate action. First, ensure your dog isn’t choking and take away any remaining rawhide pieces. You should then contact your vet or take your pooch to an emergency vet clinic.
- As we mentioned before, rawhide treats are NOT easy to digest. This is why dog owners should avoid giving their dogs rawhide and choose a safer alternative.
It’s totally possible that swallowing rawhide will lead to nothing more than a minor stomach ache, so not every scenario is guaranteed to be a troublesome one.
However, rawhide treats don’t break down readily in a dog’s stomach- and that’s precisely the problem that has to be contended with.
Rawhide has a tendency to expand in the stomach as it draws in moisture, and will then pass through the digestive system whole in an undigested state.
As a result, this puts your dog at risk for major complications such as an intestinal blockage.
Having pieces of rawhide in the digestive system could lead to undigested food being passed, and if the piece is large enough there is a possibility that it could break the intestinal wall.
Internal bleeding caused by intestinal wall breakage could lead to sepsis, a very serious infection. The symptoms of sepsis include:
- Poor mood (such as a refusal to come out of its crate)
- Inability to move easily, staying in one spot
Sepsis that is not treated promptly can lead to death. Therefore, if you think your dog is suffering from trying to pass a piece of rawhide, call your vet immediately.
The longer you wait, the higher the risk of your dog needing a complicated and expensive procedure.
The simple answer is they don’t actually digest it.
Instead, the rawhide typically passes through as is. Depending on the size and material construction of the rawhide, this process can take anywhere from 24 hours to 5 days to occur.
If you think your dog has swallowed rawhide, make sure to do the following things to ensure that your dog is OK.
In many cases rawhide ingestion won’t lead to any serious issues, so here’s a few steps on what to do before you go into an all-out panic:
Open your dog’s jaws so you can see inside their mouth and throat. Check to see if any rawhide is lodged by the tongue, cheek, or airway.
You will need to try to remove the rawhide if you see it. Try and fish it out with your fingers.
NEVER use anything long or sharp (like chopsticks or pliers) in an attempt to remove any rawhide remnants.
This is because using these tools can put your dog in significant danger of suffering a puncture injury, which will only complicate the situation further.
If the pieces still won’t come out, perform the canine Heimlich maneuver. Canine Heimlich methodology is similar to how it’s done on people, but with a dog’s anatomy taken into account.
Put your arms around your pooch’s body with your hands under his ribcage, and squeeze firmly to try and dislodge the rawhide. Check out this helpful video on how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on dogs:
Check the surroundings for any more pieces of rawhide that might be laying around. If your dog eats any more, they’ll be adding to what might already be brewing inside its body.
Consuming a large piece of rawhide should always warrant a call to your vet.
It would be helpful to make notes and give the vet any information you have about the situation, such as time elapsed and stomach problems experienced.
Depending on your dog’s size, even tiny pieces of rawhide can create issues. After listening to the specific information that you give, the vet will then be able to advise you as to whether you should bring your pup in.
Sometimes the vet will want you to monitor your dog for a period of time.
Pay special attention to any variations to normal eating, drinking, and potty behavior (such as if your pooch’s poop gets stuck halfway), and don’t hesitate to contact your vet again if you do notice anything strange.
You’ll have to do a little more than cleaning up your dog’s poop for a day or two.
Rawhide isn’t broken down by the digestive system very effectively, so you’ll need to be certain it has made its way out.
Yes, you know what that means.
Every time your dog has a bowel movement, check the waste for blood or abnormal colors/textures. If you do spot anything alarming, it’s best to call your vet straight away.
Alternatively, if your dog doesn’t go to the bathroom and is constipated, call your vet.
Due to the rawhide factor, there’s no way to know for sure whether it’s simple constipation or if there is an obstruction in the colon. For that reason, the best thing to do is always to consult a professional.
When your dog eats a rawhide too fast it puts him at risk for swallowing a larger chunk, which will then result in the same repercussions as we listed above (namely, choking or intestinal blockage).
As we have mentioned, rawhide has been proven to NOT be digestible, so your dog shouldn’t be eating it in the first place.
However, if he’s eaten it already then you will need to follow the steps we have outlined above.
Rawhide is a common treat found in many households with canine companions, but feeding it to said pals can have serious consequences.
This is because dogs’ jaws have been naturally designed over the years to ‘rip and swallow’ when they eat, rather than chew and chew to break down food as humans do.
This results in a situation where a pooch may tear off large pieces of the outer layers of rawhide chews and inhale them whole rather than chomp patiently.
If you know your dog has swallowed large chunks of rawhide, keep a close eye on them. If they do show signs of any of the following, call your vet or take your dog into the nearest clinic immediately.
- Lodged Pieces Of Rawhide: If you open your dog’s mouth and can see the rawhide but can’t get it out by any means, you need to take your dog to your vet or an emergency vet as quickly as possible.
Your dog may suffocate if the rawhide gets stuck in the throat, so it’s imperative to act immediately to prevent this from happening.
- Problems With/ Changes In Breathing Patterns: Abnormal breathing is a significant warning sign that something is amiss; be on the lookout if your pup begins to pant abnormally or make weird mouth movements.
- Vomiting Profusely: If your dog won’t stop throwing up and /or heaving (especially if there are hard white chunks in the spew), take him to an emergency animal hospital immediately. This could be a sign the rawhide is stuck in the digestive tract.
- Unable to Poop Or Straining: If your dog is having difficulty passing stool, there may be a blockage in the colon.
Rawhide acts as a sponge, swelling and taking in fluid as it sits in the stomach. The size of the rawhide and the decrease in fluids can make the constipation severe.
- Other Poop Issues: If you think there is a piece of rawhide stuck in your dog’s behind after he poops, please don’t try and pull it out.
You don’t know what’s going on with that piece of rawhide and if there is an edge you may tear the rectum. Take him to the vet instead!
- Diarrhea: Feces that are not solid or are liquidy can mean there is an obstruction in the colon. It’s a sign the digestive system is trying to pass the rawhide.
- Severe Lethargy: You know your dog’s behavior best. If your dog is lower energy than normal, doesn’t want to come out of its crate, or is getting harder to wake up, then there is a cause for concern.
An abrupt change in behavior could be a sign of something serious. Hate to sound like a broken record, but call your vet!
- Signs of Panic: If there is an obstruction in the digestive tract, it can make your dog anxious. He might show this by:
- Your Dog Is In Pain: Check your dog for any change in the way he moves around. If he’s refusing to move from one spot, has a strange way of getting around, or won’t stop whimpering, he may be in pain and should be examined more closely.
Extreme pacing, excessive drooling, and heavy panting are just some of the ways that your dog shows distress.
In this case it may indicate a blockage has occurred, which can understandably cause your pup to freak out and panic. At this point, you should take your dog to the nearest vet as quickly as possible.
The moment you suspect that your dog has swallowed rawhide strips, contact your vet.
If the ingestion has occurred within the last 30 minutes or so, the vet may advise you to induce vomiting* in your pup.
*Only ever induce vomiting under professional advice, as certain circumstances (such as the wrong time frame or sharp edges) can make it dangerous to carry out the procedure.*
Vomiting is usually induced through the use of a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution at a dosage of a teaspoon/10 pounds of dog bodyweight. This can either be given directly or through mediums such as milk or bread.
Once the dog has taken the solution, allow it to move around and play for 10-15 minutes. This will make the solution bubble up inside its stomach and eventually force the contents out.
If it doesn’t work after the first attempt, a second dose can be provided in the same manner. If it is once again unsuccessful, further consult your vet on the next appropriate steps.
If your vet wants to take a look at your dog, get him in as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the greater the risk of damage.
Once you are at the clinic, the vet will firstly analyze your pooch’s medical history and perform a physical hands-on assessment.
This will then be followed up with various examinations such as X-rays, urinalysis, and blood tests to determine whether an obstruction has occurred.
These tests are extremely vital as they will also help to exclude additional conditions such as infections, gastroenteritis, or hormonal abnormalities.
Following the examinations, the vet will be able to decide on an appropriate treatment plan.
Depending on the location of the blockage, treatment could involve either an endoscopic procedure or surgery and may require hospitalization for a few days in order to monitor the ongoing status of the canine.
There’s no denying that dogs like to chew. If your dog enjoys chewing on rawhide, try and replace it with one of these safer suggestions:
- Natural produce: Go for produce that can withstand some decent chewing like carrots, green beans, cabbage stalks, and apples.
- Nylabones: this fake rawhide will break down into granules that your dog can digest. Make sure you get one big enough your dog can’t swallow it, and replace it once it gets small enough to choke on.
- Rubber toys: There’s a wide variety of chewable rubber or wood-like toys. Some, like the famous Kong, have spaces where you can fill them with treats or peanut butter. Yum!
- Yak Chews: These chewy treats are made out of Yak milk. They taste delicious to dogs and are a delight to chew on. Like with the Nylabones, keep an eye on the size of the chew and replace as needed.
- Treat puzzles: If your dog likes a challenge (and reward), a puzzle or snuffle mat with treats in it might be the perfect swap!
- Rice chews: Just what they sound like- digestible chews that are made out of rice.
- Dental chews: This special type of chew (Dentastix, as an example)has the added benefit of cleaning your dog’s teeth!
Here are a few other alternatives to rawhide that are much safer and can be made from home:
Popsicles are delicious treats for you and the whole family. With these homemade pupsicles, your furry friend can enjoy a cold sweet treat as well!
- 2 bananas (medium sized preferred)
- 32 ounces of plain yogurt
- 3-4 tablespoons of peanut butter
- Add the bananas, yogurt, and peanut butter into a blender and blend everything together until a smooth consistency is achieved.
- Pour the mixture into silicone molds of your choosing. These can be any shape (though I go for these adorable ‘paw and bone’ ones) and can be purchased easily on Amazon.
- Since the molds are difficult to transfer to the freezer without spilling, I recommend placing them on a large notebook or piece of cardboard before filling. This will make transporting them to the freezer easy.
- Place the molds in the freezer until they are frozen completely and solidified. Then, just remove them from the silicone molds, feed one to your pooch, and put the rest back in the freezer for later!
If your dog isn’t satisfied with a sweet treat like the pupsicles listed above, a meaty option like jerky might work better. Here are a few of my favorite dog jerky products you can buy online.
- Rocco & Roxie Gourmet Jerky Dog Treats — Not only are these jerky treats available in several flavors (including beef, chicken, and turkey) but they have a soft texture that make them easy to enjoy for any dog. They’re also made in the USA!
- “I and love and you” Nice Jerky Bites — These tasty treats are grain-free and also made in the United States. Made without any artificial preservatives, Nice Jerky Bites come in a variety of unique flavors your dog will love, including salmon & chicken, beef & lamb, and more!
- Newman’s Own Beef Jerky Treats — While your furry friend will certainly love these treats, you’ll definitely love them just as much because 100% of the proceeds go to charity.
If you love whipping up treats for your pooch, this pumpkin applesauce dog chew recipe will be right up your alley.
Your dog will love the taste– and you’ll have lots of fun making them!
- 1 cup of pumpkin puree (make sure it’s 100% real pumpkin paste, no additives)
- 1 cup of applesauce
- Mix the pumpkin puree and applesauce together in a mixing bowl until they are combined. Again. Ensure that you have pumpkin puree- NOT pumpkin pie filling.
- The mixture then needs to then be evenly spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for around 7-9 hours at 175 degrees.
- You should check on your dog chews every hour once you’ve reached the 5 to 6 hour mark. Why? Since all ovens vary and depending on how thick and evenly you spread your mixture, your treats could be finished earlier than 7-9 hours.
- These treats are ready to come out once the middle is no longer sticky and soft.
- Let the treats cool down for a bit on a cooling rack. You should cool until they are somewhat warm, but can still be easily handled without burning yourself.
- Cut the entire thing into small pieces (you can cut them so they are the same size as your dog’s regular treat). You can also cut them into 3 inch strips, roll and twist them to make the perfect chew sticks.
Hide refers to an animal’s skin, and rawhide is simply animal skin that hasn’t yet been processed with methods such as tanning.
Canine rawhide treats are typically made of the inner layer of hide from beef cattle, though pork or buffalo hides can also be bought.
Once it has been separated from the top layer of hide, it is cut, washed, made into its final shape, and then baked in an oven at high temperatures.
Honestly, your dog probably shouldn’t be having any rawhides– whether that be in a week or any time frame for that matter.
It’s especially unsafe if given unsupervised and can cause a laundry list of problems, which can lead to life-threatening scenarios.
If you care about your furry friend (like I know you do!) then ditch the rawhide and go with something safer that we’ve listed above!
In short, yes.
Of course, it’s not certain that a dog will die from eating rawhide, but the risks are greater than you may think.
For instance, they could choke, have an intestinal blockage, suffer a perforation, develop an infection, or become sick from chemicals used when curing the rawhide.
Or, there could be no problems at all. You simply never know– but is that a gamble you want to take?
Absolutely! Yak cheese, collagen treats, and bully sticks are all great options. Take a closer look at the ‘Alternatives’ section above to choose the treat that suits you and your pup best.
As you can see, if your dog swallowed rawhide strips you’re right to be at least a little bit worried.
Not only could the ingestion lead to choking, but intestinal blockages and perforations as well.
Sadly, all of these conditions can be life-threatening.
If your dog shows any of the signs associated with a blockage such as extreme pacing, abdominal pain, excessive drooling, heavy panting, or an inability to pass stool, they should be taken to the vet right away.
If it ends up being nothing, the best thing you can do to prevent any future potential issues associated with rawhide is to replace these treats altogether with something safer. You can even make your own if you’d like!
No matter what chewy treats you choose to give your dog, ensure you keep a close eye on him when he’s eating them to prevent him from choking or suffering any other adverse health complications.
If you want to gain more insight into dog behavior and learn how to become a better pet parent, be sure to read the check out the rest of our blog!
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.