Sure you can wander down the dog treat aisle and select from the numerous rawhide bones available. But if you're particular about what you feed your dog, make your own rawhide treats at home, instead of giving him something heavily processed. The hardest part of making rawhide bones at home is figuring out where you can buy ready-to-cook rawhide. Once you have that in your hands, the entire process is relatively simple.
How to Make Homemade Rawhide Bones
Talk with a butcher and ask for rawhide that is ready to boil or edible rawhide. This type of rawhide has the outer layer removed -- the inedible part that has hair. You might have to visit a specialty meat shop or even order the product online.
Boil water on the stove in a stockpot -- fill it about halfway. You can add stock, broth or a bouillon cube for flavoring, but opt for low-sodium varieties. Sodium-rich cooking water will only make the rawhide bones high in sodium, which isn't healthy for your pooch. The cooking water should have some flavor, if desired, although it should be more on the bland side, not salty.
Cut the rawhide into smaller manageable pieces. For a smaller dog, cut the rawhide into pieces that are about 4 inches long. Or if your dog is bigger, cut pieces that are around 7 inches long. If you plan to tie knots on the ends to form the bone shape, consider cutting them a couple inches longer. Pieces should be roughly 4 inches wide.
Fold each piece of rawhide in half lengthwise. Tie a loose knot in the middle and slide the knot down to one end to tighten it. Repeat this one more time to get a knot on the other end. This step is optional. You can simply make rawhide chews that are left flat.
Place each prepared piece of rawhide in the boiling water with a pair of tongs. Fill the pot as much as one-fourth of the way full with rawhide. Let the rawhide pieces boil until they start to curl. For bones, you'll see curling at the end of the knots and at the cut edges.
Set up a few baking trays lined with parchment paper while the rawhide treats are boiling. If you're making flat chews instead of bones, you'll need a few extra baking trays and a couple heavy pans or bricks for weights.
Remove the rawhide bones from the boiling water one at a time, shaking away any excess moisture. Lay down each piece flat on the baking trays. Straighten out bones as much as possible. For flat chews, cover the baking trays with extra baking trays and use a pot or brick to weight them down. This will help form flatter chews.
Leave the cooked rawhide treats out on your counter to dry overnight. If the parchment paper or baking trays are very wet, change them out for dry ones before going to bed, after the rawhides are cool enough to touch.
Store the dried rawhide bones or chews in airtight containers or plastic bags. Leave them in the back part of your pantry, away from any moisture.