many Veterinarians never endorse dogs chewing rawhide because of concerns about the digestibility and potential choking hazards. Many consumers also have concerns about chemicals used to process rawhide and the general lack of regulation in the leather industry. And let’s face it … rawhide is hide. It’s skin. Processing leather for consumption takes quite a bit of work; work that results in toxic waste, which has a negative effect on the environment.
I’m not an anti-rawhide person. I’ve fed rawhide to my dogs. But I do worry about the chew when it gets to be so small that the dog might swallow it. Unless I’m watching him chew the entire thing — or unless I look up as he gets to the end of it — I may not know that he’s about to swallow the last of it. I also had a Dachshund who would maul and gum the rawhide until it was soft, wet and floppy. When I took it away from him, I pulled a bunch out of his throat that he had partially swallowed. Yuck.
And yet, rawhide has benefits. It’s a long-lasting, protein chew that will give a dog hours of chewing activity, which they need to keep their minds occupied in their modern confinement lifestyles. It also helps clean their teeth.
So I was interested in the concept of Smart Bones, a chew that’s veggie-based chewy outside and chicken jerky inside. I tried two of their varieties, the chicken and the peanut butter, in size large, which is 6.5″ long. They also have a dental variety (see below for sizes and flavors).
The “vegetable” outside is mainly extruded corn starch, and includes (depending on the flavor) sweet potatoes, peas, carrots or kelp.
I gave one to my 12-week-old Shiloh Shepherd puppy, who’s a shark right now (everything goes in the mouth, right?) and one to my nine-year-old Irish Setter. There was a little bit of crumbling on the outer part of the chicken one, but the chew seemed to be palatable. While it did not last as long as a rawhide, it did keep her busy for half an hour. The Irish Setter had a ball with the peanut butter one. His teeth aren’t as sharp as the puppy’s milk teeth, and he’s not as frantic, so he got nearly an hour’s fun out of his.
I saw no ill effect when I took the dogs out to do their business. Sometimes, you can feed a new treat or chew and then regret it later. But there was no evidence that the Smart Bones were stressing their digestive systems. They don’t smell, which I like (some rawhide chews reek) and they don’t stain my carpets or sofa, which is nice, since my Setter likes to save some for later by hiding his treats under our pillows on the bed.
Smart Bones are also fortified with vitamins and minerals, which gives them an extra nutritional boost. Minor “cons” I see are that they have 9% protein content (vs. 80% and up for rawhide) and dogs with grain allergies might not tolerate the high corn percentage. Other than that, my dogs loved them. This is a smart alternative to rawhide if your dog does not like or should not consume rawhide.
Sizes: Mini, small, medium, large (also available in chips and “smartsticks”
Buy in bags or bulk boxes.
Flavors: Chicken, peanut butter, dental