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Never Give Rawhide Chews to Help Your Dog’s Breath

Golden Retriever Puppy with a rawhide bone

Let’s talk chews. Particularly, let’s talk about dangerous chews. Some of the chews marketed for our dogs aren’t as safe as we think they are. Sadly this is true for many of the treats out there even though our dogs love them. Rawhide chews are the biggest offender of all of them and are at the top of our list for this reason. Here we will discuss these and some other chews that you should watch out for.

Dangers of rawhide chews for dogs.

Rawhide bone on white background

It may come as a big surprise that rawhide is not a good chew for our pets. I know I was surprised and it kind of stinks because all our dogs have LOVED rawhide. And like so many I have given them to our dogs with not the slightest worry.

With all the different chews available on the market we always brought these home to our pups. Their joy at receiving them was just the push we needed to continue to purchase them without realizing how dangerous they could really be.

But after our dog Bear broke his tooth on one I discovered that many brands of rawhide are compressed using dangerous chemicals. Most brands are compressed so hard that they can fracture your dog’s teeth, cause dog gum bleeding, and chewing on rawhide can cause dog panting which can be a big sign of infection. They can also harbor bacteria that can make your dog ill.

And of course, our poor Bear suffered a fractured tooth way in the back of his mouth that we couldn’t see until it became so unbearable for him and caused him so much pain he panted nonstop along with non-stop licking. We were so upset that we didn’t’ know this was the cause until a very expensive vet visit where he needed two teeth pulled. We felt like such loser pet parents, we did this. (But hopefully, this will save you from feeling the same way down the road).

After much research and speaking to our veterinarian we decided it was best to just avoid them altogether much to our pup’s disappointment. But don’t fear there ARE safe chews out there, this is just a shortlist of ones to avoid for your pet’s health.

Here I have compiled a list of chews for dogs that are touted as healthy for your pet that you will want to avoid as well as some advice about a certain toy to avoid. I’ve included some links to safe alternatives in the mix for you too.

Hooves, Antlers, and other Animal Chews for Dogs.

Hooves, antlers, and other animal chews are just as bad of an idea as Raw Hide. Because like chicken bones which are a big no-no, these chews can crack and splinter when your dog chews on them. The best case scenario, your dog’s mouth gets a bit cut up. Worst case, a piece splinters and gets stuck in their throat.

These choking hazards can become a nightmare scenario. I myself am guilty of giving hooves and animal-based chews such as bully-sticks as a chew treat and was not aware of the dangers until our dog Bear bit into one and got a splintered off piece caught far back in his jaw, luckily it didn’t make it to his throat! And let’s face it. If you’ve ever given these to your dog you know how bad they stink! Hello, bacteria! EWWW.

Unfortunately, I have one more for you – cornstarch chews. My dogs absolutely loved these and went crazy for them but they are on our list of bad chews to give your dog for a couple of very good reasons.

Avoid animal chews for dogs.

small dog chewing bone

A lot of people who avoid animal chews because they stink or can harbor harmful bacteria try cornstarch chews instead. Guilty! Can’t say we didn’t try these at one point, having been drawn in by the claims that are touted by clever advertising ourselves.

The problem here is that corn is an incredibly common allergy in dogs.

Some dogs may not react to the little corn in their diet, but can still react to the concentrated cornstarch in a chew. Plus, these chews can be terribly hard. Think of it as letting your dog chew on a rock because these, you guessed it, can also break their teeth. Not to mention if it lays around until they get back to it all the dirt and debris it collects can cause it to become a gross little slimy bone and the bits can get caught in their teeth making for a worse than bad breath situation.

Next on our list is Ice.

Avoiding Ice Cubes for dogs

I know I told you to use ice cubes to help get your dog to drink. This is good if they are sick or it’s really hot out and they are supervised, But it’s the last resort. It can be safe for dogs who don’t chew on them since ice cubes are bad for dog’s teeth. There are even wonderful frozen summer bowls that work for when it is way too hot out but these are generally too large for chewing and can be a good idea but only when supervised.

Bear likes to chase his ice around the kitchen and lick up the puddles. Other dogs like to crunch them. And the problem here is that it’s like crunching a jawbreaker. You’re simply not supposed to do it.

As humans we know chewing ice can crack our teeth. And that’s what happens when your dog crunches ice. It can cause fractures in his teeth or even break them off completely. And many times you can’t see them and a fractured tooth, especially if close to the gum line, can cause an infection you won’t see and your dog will be in tremendous pain but they will hide it well, just because they hide it well though doesn’t mean they don’t need vet attention…panting is a big sign to look for as it can indicate pain or infection especially if there is no other reason for the dog to be panting. Also, licking constantly is another sign they may have a broken or loose tooth. (speaking from experience here!).

Are tennis balls safe for dogs?

Jack Russell Terrier with tennis ball

Most dogs love to fetch, chase, and chew on them. Some love how it may feel against their teeth and gums. That woolly felt is deceptively soft-looking but it’s very abrasive and because these are one of the things your dog chews up there are obviously hazards to this such as being a big choking or blockage hazard.

While you’d think that would be great for cleaning Pup teeth —It’s actually too abrasive. Sounds weird right? But it can wear down their gums and tooth enamel, leaving the teeth more prone to decay.

Plus, if your dog plays with tennis balls outdoors, grit and dirt get caught in the fuzzy outside. These can dig into tooth enamel, and it can cut up their gums not to mention all the germs they can pick up.

Unfortunately, if your dog likes to chew tennis balls, it’s better not to let them have them. Overall, tennis balls aren’t safe for dogs.

We hate being the harbingers of all this doom and gloom but in the end, the best thing to do is to be very chew-sy about what you give your dog to chew on for their teeth and general boredom.

Finally, for some GOOD and healthy ways to help clean your dog’s teeth, check out our post on How to cure your dog’s bad breath.  And for a few safe chews for dogs, you can feel good about giving your pup, you will want to read 4 Great Toys that Clean Your Dog’s Teeth! No matter what you chose to give your picky chewer always be sure to supervise them.

Please keep in mind that we may receive a small commission when you click our links and make purchases and as an Amazon Associate, this site earns from qualifying purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

Please note: This post is not meant to prevent, treat or, cure any ailment or disease. We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.

Friday 23rd of February 2024



Wednesday 21st of March 2018

Thank you for reposting. I had no clue about the ice and tennis balls. Great info to know!!