When I adopted my dog, Hayley, just over ten years ago, rawhide was the bone of choice to give your dog when he was looking for something to gnaw on. And I, like so many others out there, bought them in large quantities and happily gave them to my dog thinking I was doing her a huge favor and was so proud of myself for being such a good dog owner.

Looking back now, I see how much we took for granted about our dog’s health and well-being. We figured that if pet stores sold it, it must be good. We assumed that if the vet said it was okay, then it must be appropriate. We didn’t question or think much about it back then and we were all doing our dogs a great disservice.

Luckily, we’ve now embraced dogs into our families and are treating them like our own kids. We want to take excellent care of your beloved pooches and are now demanding the best for our furry family members. We are just now realizing what foods are really the best choices for our dogs and discovering the proper ways to care for them. We have more information about the domestic dog than every before and we are now making better choices for our dog’s health.

In case you haven’t heard the newsflash, I’ll give it to you straight right here. Rawhide is very, very bad for your dog. Stop reading this, get up off your butt and go throw every piece of rawhide in your house away. Go! Right Now!

Okay, now that you’ve done that let me give you the skinny on rawhide. Rawhide is the inner layer of cow or horse hides. Basically, it’s the skin of the animal and in addition to not being completely digestible, it probably contains some pretty toxic chemicals. The production of rawhide bones are not regulated by the FDA and many are manufactured outside the United States where they have less health regulations.

Also, rawhide expands in your dog’s stomach and can cause obstructions. Every watch a dog chew on a rawhide bone? It becomes a very gummy consistency that can cause lots of problems when swallowed.

Ok, so now you know, no more rawhide bones. But what are you going to give the little bugger to keep him from sampling the couch? Don’t worry, I got your back. Here are my top five favorite things to give your dog to chew on.

1. Raw Bones – This will keep your pooch busy for hours. I usually give Hayley a split knuckle or marrow bone and take it away after about an hour (she would happily keep going though). No, raw bones are not bad for your dog (the debate over that will have to wait for another post) – just never give your dog cooked bones. They can splinter and cause some major internal damage.

Bully Sticks

2. Bully Sticks – These are probably my favorite treat and Hayley gets one every week or so. I rarely tell people what they really are (my wife didn’t find out for a number of years) but I feel like I have to be honest with you. It’s a bulls penis. Gross for us, but very good for your dog.

3. Tendon – Another great chew choice that will take your dog 15-30 minutes to go through depending on how aggressive a chewer he is.

4. Trachea – Beef trachea may also wig you out a bit but is 100% healthy and yummy for your dog. It won’t last as long as a tendon or bully stick but is a nice supplement to your dog’s diet.

5. Pigs Ears – Also won’t last that long but a good choice as a special treat.

There you have it – consider yourself informed.

As people become more educated you’ll see these treats become more widely available and all those rawhide bones disappear from the shelves. For now I would recommend sticking with a local holistic pet store and avoid the big chains. You can also get them online. My favorite company is Only Natural Pet Store.

Happy shopping and I hope to see you holding a bulls penis the next time we run into each other.

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