How to Soften Rawhides for Dogs

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Dogs, especially puppies, absolutely love chewing on objects. What’s better than coming home to find your sock with a giant hole in it and your favorite shoes torn to shreds? Dogs need stimulation to keep them active, and rawhides are great options to help facilitate this.

Rawhides have many benefits, but we’ll also review the drawbacks and alternatives. We’ll also cover how to soften rawhides, which is a crucial step to keeping your dog safe.

What Are Rawhides?

Dogs love chewing on things, and we find that sometimes, the smellier, the better. This fact holds true with rawhides, which are made from processed cattle (or other livestock species) horns, hooves, and bones. They’re produced through a process of being dried in the sun to harden them. Many pet stores sell them in a variety of shapes and sizes and may add to them to make them more appealing.

Dogs love rawhides because of their strong taste and smell. It also gives them something to do and an object to chew on. It’s important to make sure the rawhide is adequately softened, though, as hard pieces of rawhide can be a choking hazard. Softening rawhides makes the chewing and digesting process much easier and safer.

Is Chewing Beneficial to Dogs?

Dogs chew on objects for many reasons, but it’s often out of boredom. Puppies especially like to get into things and may be found hidden away with a sock or shoe. As cute as they may be, dealing with a chewing issue can be frustrating, so rawhides can fix this. Chewing relieves puppies’ teeth pain, and for adults, it keeps their teeth and gums strong and healthy.

Dogs find chewing on things to be a fun activity, and it improves mental health because of the concentration it takes and the positive emotions it causes (if dogs even have emotions, which I’m convinced of after owning a very emotional dog). It also prevents boredom, anxiety, and restlessness and is often a form of exercise.

Chewing on natural objects such as bones can provide a good source of zinc, magnesium, vitamins, and calcium, which is another reason that rawhides are recommended.

How to Soften a Rawhide in 3 Simple Steps

Since rawhides are difficult for dogs to chew because they’re so hard, softening them is crucial. There are a few simple ways to soften rawhides that are at-home techniques and won’t cost any money. Let’s go over some of the popular methods, and you can choose the best fit for yourself.

Soaking in Water

Soaking Rawhide in Water
Soaking Rawhide In Water

The reason that rawhides are so strong and hard is due to the content of calcium in the bone. They’re as usually sun-parched, making it harder. By soaking the rawhide in a simple bowl of water, the rawhide naturally softens to the point that it’s safe for dogs. It’s an easy method that will only take about 30 minutes of your time.


Boiling raw hide to soften
Boiling Rawhide

Another easy method of softening rawhide is simply boiling them for about 10 minutes. Similar to soaking in a glass of water, it softens the rawhide to make it easier for your dog to chew. This is a more efficient way of softening rawhides, though, so your dog will be enjoying it within minutes.

Use of Enzymes

Use Of Enzymes
Enzymes To Soften Rawhide

This is a less common and more intensive method of softening rawhide, but it works all the same. Proteolytic enzymes, which are produced by plants, animals, and fungi, are shown to have the ability to break down proteins, thus softening rawhide. Studies show that Bromelain, which is an enzyme present in pineapple juice, can be used to soften rawhides.

Advantages of Rawhides

As mentioned earlier in the article, chewing is very beneficial for dogs, and rawhides are a great treat. Chewing on rawhide improves their oral health and makes their jaws stronger. You’ll find your dog sleeping calmly after an intense play session with a rawhide. This may even take the place of a walk on a day when there’s not enough time.

Disadvantages of Rawhides

Some disadvantages may show up based on the specific brand of rawhide you buy, as the lower quality ones often involve chemicals in the production of the product, which may negatively affect your dog.

Rawhides may cause gagging, vomiting, and diarrhea, but these are uncommon cases. If you notice your dog feeling sick or showing any of these symptoms after chewing on rawhide, take them to the vet to get it checked out. Monitor your dog closely to be sure they don’t choke.

How to Choose the Right Rawhide

When looking for rawhides, keep in mind the size of your dog. Smaller dogs need smaller-sized rawhides but be sure that the rawhide is still big enough not to be a choking hazard. Same with a bigger dog, but buy them larger rawhides.

Also, look at the quality of the rawhide when choosing your pick. Some rawhides have chemicals in them that can be dangerous for dogs, so natural ones are the way to go.

Rawhide Alternatives

Some people opt for another form of treat or toy for their dog due to the potential drawbacks of rawhides, such as the risk of choking or chemicals. There are still many great objects out there that your dog can chew on, so we’d like to provide a few affordable options.

Beef Tendon

  • SINGLE INGREDIENT BEEF TENDONS FOR DOGS - Made with only 100% natural premium quality Beef Tendons.
  • RAWHIDE FREE TREATS – Best alternative to chemically made rawhide bones and manufactured dental sticks.
  • SUPPORTS DENTAL HEALTH – Chewing helps reduce plaque and tartar for cleaner teeth and fresher breath.
  • SAFE & RESPONSIBLE COMPANY – Our 5-step safety process includes: fresh raw material sourcing, irradiation, food-grade lab testing, hand packaging in the USA and UV disinfection of our facility. From the farm to your fur baby, we manage, and quality check every single step.
  • LASTING STIMULATION & TASTY – Perfect reward to occupy and entertain Strong Puppies, Small or Medium Breeds. Dogs love the tasty beef flavor and chewy texture.

Beef tendons are a type of chew that’s 100% natural and organic. They are free from all preservatives and chemicals, so it’s a healthy option for your dog that they’re guaranteed to love.

Bully Sticks

  • PACKAGED BY WEIGHT: These bully sticks are hand selected and packaged by weight, not quantity. For the 6” Bully Stick bag, quantity may vary from 6 to 9 sticks, but the final bag weight will always be 6 Ounces.
  • 𝗕𝗨𝗟𝗟𝗬 𝗦𝗧𝗜𝗖𝗞𝗦 are great for long-lasting engagement, mental stimulation, efficient dental cleaning, plus coat and skin health.
  • 𝗛𝗘𝗔𝗟𝗧𝗛𝗬 𝗖𝗛𝗘𝗪𝗦 made by Natural Farm without any additives or preservatives from 100% grass-fed, hormone-free Brazilian beef.
  • DENTAL CARE: Like rope bones or thick cow ears, bully sticks help stimulate jaw muscles when chewing and help remove harmful plaque buildup for cleaner teeth and fresher breath.
  • A COMPANY WHO CARES: Through outreach to non-profit organizations, shelter support, and donating a portion of our proceeds to help pets in need, we try to make a difference in the world around us and we thank you for making this possible.

These are also known as puzzle sticks, and they’re full of protein and low in fat. Dogs love them for their taste, and oftentimes, they help clean the teeth. They’re a low-cost option that’s available for all dogs.

Kong Chew Toys

  • Medium Dogs (Up to 35 lbs): The KONG Classic red rubber toy is 2.25" by 3.5"; it helps satisfy dogs' instinctual needs while providing mental stimulation and encouraging healthy play
  • Fetch and Chew Toy: The KONG Classic's unpredictable bounce makes for exciting games of fetch and other interactive play with your pet. This is a fun way for average chewers to get the exercise they need
  • Stuffing: The stuffable KONG Classic is even more enticing when treat filled with bits of kibble, peanut butter, KONG Easy Treat, Snacks or Ziggies. Bonus: For an added challenge, freeze stuffed KONG for 4-6 hours before giving to your dog. (Dishwasher safe for easy clean up)
  • Vet Recommended: Veterinarians and trainers worldwide recommend the KONG Classic as one of the best durable dog toys available
  • Made in the USA. Globally Sourced Materials

These are popular alternatives to rawhides, and you’ll find that most families that have a dog also own a Kong Chew Toy. These are made up of rubber and are highly safe for dogs. Kong chew toys are recommended for teething puppies. A fun idea for dogs of all ages is to put treats or peanut butter in the middle of the toy and watch as they try to get it out.


Rawhides are great treats to give to your dog as long as you’ve followed the steps to keeping your dog safe. Be sure to always soften the rawhide using one of the three tips we’ve provided. Your dog is guaranteed to have a blast chewing its new favorite treat and playing with it. Have fun with it while staying safe.

Quick tip, though, don’t let them on the sofa with the rawhide, or else your fabric may smell like cows for the next few weeks!