Playtime is an important part of your dog’s day. Play provides both mental and physical exercise and can help relieve stress. The importance of chewing as play is the reason for the millions of dog toys on the market. Bones have been a favorite chew toy ever since dogs were domesticated. But while natural raw bones can be safe if served correctly, what about imitation bones? 

Rawhide vs. Synthetic Bones 

Natural Rawhide Bones 

Rawhide bones are animal-based but are not actual bones. Rawhide is typically made from a strip of the thin, inner layer of cowhide that is manipulated into the desired shape before drying. The more intricate the shape and the more layers of rawhide used, can determine how hard the chew is and how long it will take for your dog to tear it apart.

Synthetic Bones

Synthetic bones are made from materials like nylon, silicone, and other types of man-made materials. Synthetic bones are more durable than rawhide, making them a more sustainable choice for pet owners. Keep in mind, however, that these bones are made from indigestible materials, and can be harmful if any pieces are swallowed. 

Are Rawhide and Nylon Bones Safe for Dogs? 

There are many dangers associated with both types of bones, especially if swallowed. Rawhide and synthetic bones contain no nutritional value. They are not meant to be chewed and swallowed. Doing so could result in problems for your dog. 

No matter which type of bone you choose, your dog should only enjoy it under supervision. There is always a risk of your dog biting off more than they can chew—we mean that literally—choking is a common hazard for these toys. 

Swallowing large chunks can also cause intestinal and bowel blockages. These blockages are always an emergency—they need to be removed as soon as possible. Signs of a blockage include repetitive vomiting, weakness, loss of appetite, or abdominal pain.

Rawhide bones are sometimes considered less risky than synthetic bones, because the rawhide softens as it is chewed. While this can reduce the risk of choking, rawhide can still cause gastrointestinal upset (tummy troubles), or impactions, due to its semi-indigestible nature. 

Imitation Bones and Dental Health

While rawhide and nylon bones are softer than real bones, they still pose a risk when it comes to your dog’s dental health. Although they’re less likely to splinter, they can still break a dog’s teeth. Senior dogs and puppies tend to have softer mouths, and their teeth can dislodge or crack more easily, so it’s best not to give them any type of bone to chew. 

Choosing the perfect chew toy is not easy! But luckily, finding the perfect veterinary care is not. The knowledgeable staff at East Valley Animal Hospital can answer any questions you have about caring for your dog, including whether or not rawhide or nylon bones are safe. 

We can also provide dental care for your four-legged friends. Contact us today for an appointment, and let our dog-loving veterinarians give your pet the dedicated care they deserve.




Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/10/23). Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash.