SmartBones Rawhide Alternative Review: Dog Tested and Approved
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Pet parents spent over $58.1 billion on pet food and treats in 2022, equating to a lot of chewing behavior. Chewing is a part of a dog’s routine behavior, so finding a rawhide alternative is something pet parents deal with all the time.
When I first got my Cocker Spaniel puppy, Alvin, I searched for a chewable treat I felt safe giving him. When puppies start moving around, they explore their world by chewing and sniffing objects. Things can become problematic when those adorable puppies get older and start chewing inappropriately or on things they shouldn’t (hello, remote controls, shoes, and furniture). Whether you have a teething puppy, an active adult, or a golden oldie, all dogs love to chew.
I’m forever looking for tasty chews my adult Cocker Spaniel can enjoy while I work, read, or watch television. However, the conscientious dog mama in me worries about the ingredients and digestibility of rawhide alternatives. Here’s what my dog and I recently discovered when testing several SmartBones rawhide-free dog chews.
What Are SmartBones?
SmartBones Chews is a rawhide alternative for dogs made for all life stages. Manufactured for Spectrum Brands, LLC, SmartBones are commonly found on the aisles of PetSmart. The company’s tagline is “The Healthy Alternative to Rawhide. ®”
The company reports that tests “demonstrate that 9 out of 10 dogs prefer these chews over rawhide chews” and that “independent digestibility studies show SmartBones chews are over 99% digestible.”
Produced in a food-grade facility according to strict protocols established by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), SmartBones Chews follow strict U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
This alternative to rawhide is considered so unique that they have several patents in the United States and internationally. We love facts, especially when they involve anything our dog consumes and that we recommend to family, friends, and followers.
SmartBones: What Does a Healthy Alternative To Rawhide Mean?
Traditional rawhide bones and chews can cause problems for some dogs of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Namely, traditional rawhide comes from leftover animal hides within the leather industry. It is often treated with chemicals and bleached, so pet parents are likelier to purchase it.
Sadly, traditional rawhide is not digestible and can cause several health issues in dogs, namely:
- Choking hazards
- Intestinal blockage
- Abdominal pain and bloating
As a healthy alternative to rawhide, SmartBones are rawhide-free and contain more wholesome ingredients you can feel good giving your dog. These include real vegetables, chicken, and peanut butter. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, your dog can enjoy a wholesome, tasty chew that is good for them.
SmartBones Rawhide Alternative: FAQs
Before allowing my dog to consume SmartBones, I had several questions. Here are the answers to the questions to help in your SmartBones journey.
How many calories are in SmartBones?
SmartBones offer many different shapes and sizes, so the caloric count varies. Refer to product packaging for further information. However, the calorie count in Peanut Butter SmartSticks is 60 ME kcal/treat. The peanut butter Bake Shop Donuts contain 91 ME kcal/treat.
How should SmartBones be stored?
Store the product in the resealable bag it comes in or in an airtight container.
Can puppies eat SmartBones?
According to the company, SmartBones are safe for puppies older than eight weeks. Use supervision, as puppies will not have teeth at this stage of life.
Does the FDA have any involvement in SmartBones?
Their website says SmartBones adheres to strict U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hygiene regulations and manufacturing processes.
Do SmartBones stain rugs or furniture?
SmartBones do not typically leave a mess or stain. However, it’s best to give your dog SmartBones where you can supervise them.
SmartBones Product Line
SmartBones offers a wide range of healthy alternatives to rawhide in various shapes, flavors, and forms for dogs. They offer:
- Classic Bone Chews
- Care Chews (i.e., dental, hips and joints, calming)
- Innovative Chews (sticks and chips)
- Specialty Chews
Here’s a brief overview of three kinds of SmartBones treats we explored and the one that came out on top with my Cocker Spaniel.
Spoiler Alert: Your dog may have a hard time choosing as mine did.
These 2-1/2-inch round chews are shaped like a small donut but pack a mighty taste. Made with vegetables, real chicken, and real peanut butter, they contain no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors. Each pack contains four yummy donuts made without any rawhide.
My Cocker Spaniels mouth size is ideal for a treat of this size. You always want to select SmartBones that are a bit larger than your dog’s mouth. I delight in knowing the chews are easy to digest, help maintain healthy teeth, and contain limited ingredients pet parents can trust.
My dog could chew and break this product down into small enough pieces to swallow. Always remove and discard any leftover chunks or fragments for your dog’s safety.
Made with real peanut butter, real chicken, and vegetables, SmartBones Churro Style Sticks look like the human variety of the same name. Each pack contains 14 delectable sticks.
Like all SmartBones products, they are easy to digest and enriched with vitamins and minerals. Each chew is 54 ME kcal/treat and comes in one flavor, peanut butter.
SmartBones Spirals are infused with real chicken, pork, and beef at just 33 ME kcal/treat for maximum reward and flavor. The spiral shape is fun and unique, and the chewing helps maintain your dog’s healthy teeth. Each 32-treat bag features three different spiral choices so your dog can choose their favorite flavor.
Putting SmartBones to the Taste Test
I tested the three SmartBones products listed above on my almost 2-year-old Cocker Spaniel. He is very treat-motivated but can be fussy. I’ve purchased treats and chews for him before that he walked away from. This did not happen with SmartBones.
I fed him one SmartBones chew each night for three nights in a row. The next day, I monitored his stool output to see whether SmartBones caused him any digestive upset, and he was fine.
My dog is a resounding fan of all SmartBones treats, but his absolute favorite is forthcoming. As an aside, whenever I kept the bag near my home office as I worked, he whined for more. You know it’s good when a treat passes the fussy dog test.
My dog had never tried SmartBones products before, so we started with the Bake Shop Donuts. I chose these mostly because they are smaller but bigger than my dog’s mouth. With four to a pack, each rawhide-alternative donut looks like it had drizzle glaze on top.
I like that the chews don’t have any rough edges and that they passed my dog’s sniff test before he started chomping on it. After ten minutes, the donut disappeared. I supervise my dog’s treat time to ensure he isn’t eating too quickly.
Within a few minutes, he took a big drink of water and came to me to ask for another SmartBones. If your dog is anything like mine, one is fine, but two is divine.
The Bake Shop Donuts only come in peanut butter flavor and contain chicken and vegetables. I am uncertain if the crinkling of the bag got my dog’s attention or the aroma of the donut, but when I gave him one a few days later, he ran quickly to me.
I wouldn’t recommend giving these to dogs larger than a Cocker Spaniel or dogs with larger mouths. I share life with one dog at a time, but I am often asked about chewable treats for dogs by my followers on social media. I plan to recommend SmartBones Bake Shop Donuts.
- Four to a pack means you can reward your very good boy or girl weekly for a month
- Round shape is a fun way to change up your dog’s chewing routine
- Only 60 ME kcal/treat
- Dogs may recognize the appealing aroma and come running
- Easy to digest and contains no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
Things to Consider
- Not ideal for dogs with chicken sensitivities
- Available in one flavor option
- One size donut and no larger size for bigger mouths
- My dog devoured the chew in under 10 minutes
As a fan of churros, I had to try these non-rawhide churro-style sticks with Alvin. Each package contains 14 SmartBones that look incredibly similar to Churros people enjoy.
Alvin immediately put the SmartBones Churro stick between his feet and chewed on it with his back teeth. Although I brush his teeth nightly, I like that the rubbing motion against his teeth and gums is good for his oral health.
Like the Bake Shop Donut, the peanut butter Churro contains real chicken and vegetables, and my dog tends to itch more when consuming chicken-based products. It took 15 minutes for Alvin to savor every bite and ask for more.
- Each chew contains 54 ME kcal/treat
- Longer size is ideal for dogs who enjoy a chew they can hold onto
- 14 generous chews per bag
- Made with real peanut butter for dogs to savor
- Easy to digest like all SmartBones products
- Each Churro is about five inches long
Things to Consider
- It contains chicken, so consider this if your dog is sensitive to chicken products
- They lasted longer than the donut, but they are not long-lasting chews
The spiral variety pack of SmartBones gives pet parents the choice of chicken, pork, or beef wrapped around the non-rawhide chew. Don’t let the look of this treat fool you. There is no rawhide product in any of the SmartBones products.
One of Alvin’s favorite proteins is beef; we feed him beef as part of his daily diet. Each variety has chicken it in, but they contain no peanut butter. He loved every morsel of this treat and asked for more as usual. We have a routine – he asks for more, I show him my hands are empty, and he walks away, hoping I’ll change my mind.
I didn’t try the chicken or pork spirals with Alvin because I wanted his stomach to digest the SmartBones chew and not mix the flavors and varieties.
- The variety pack is ideal for multiple dog households
- Generous 32-count bag
- Only 33 ME kcal/treat
- Contains all the goodness, vitamins, and minerals like other SmartBones products
- Dogs may find it fun and challenging to get two treats in one
- Very aromatic and appealing to my dog
Things to Consider
- Each chew contains chicken, no matter the variety
- No peanut butter spirals are available
- Took my dog less than five minutes to eat this chew
SmartBones Healthy Alternative To Rawhide: Our Verdict
I’ve purchased SmartBones for my best friend’s Cocker Spaniel for years. She loves the peanut butter SmartSticks and digests them easily. Although we never tried the line until now, I felt confident giving my dog something good for him and easily digestible.
Over the next week, Alvin showed no issues of stomach issues. His bowel movements were pristine. The chews are not as hard as rawhide, so they don’t last as long. Each of the three SmartBones products we tested lasted anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.
Therefore, depending on your dog’s mouth size and chewing aggression, these are more of a high-value chewable than a long-lasting chew.
Finally, my dog’s favorite SmartBones variety is the Bake Shop Donuts pack. I plan to allow him to consume one from time to time. He has some chicken sensitivities, so I can’t feed them as often as I would like. This non-rawhide treat is something savvy pet parents can feel good giving their dogs. I know I do.
The author received compensation from PetSmart for their services in writing this article.