Step-by-Step Guide: How to Soften Rawhide for Dogs

how to soften rawhide for dogs

Rawhide is a popular chew toy for dogs, but giving them hard, unsoftened rawhide can lead to choking and dental problems. That’s why it’s important to know how to soften rawhide for dogs before giving it to them. In this article, we’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to prepare, soften, and store rawhide for your furry friend.

There are several methods and techniques that can be used to make rawhide more pliable and safer for your dog to chew on. Let’s dive in and learn how to properly soften rawhide for dogs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Softening rawhide is important for dog dental health and choking prevention.
  • There are multiple methods to soften rawhide, including soaking in water, using moisture-inducing agents, and massaging and kneading.
  • Properly drying and storing softened rawhide is crucial to prevent re-hardening.

Why Softening Rawhide is Important for Dogs

As pet owners, we want our dogs to have healthy teeth and strong jaw muscles. That’s why we give them rawhide chews as a treat. However, hard, unsoftened rawhide can pose a choking hazard and damage your dog’s teeth. That’s why it’s crucial to soften rawhide before giving it to your dog. Here, we’ll discuss the best ways to soften rawhide for dogs.

There are several benefits of softening rawhide. First, softening it makes it easier for your dog to chew and digest. Second, it helps prevent choking hazards by reducing the risk of your dog breaking off large chunks of hard rawhide. Third, it protects your dog’s teeth from damage and promotes good dental health.

Softening rawhide may seem like a daunting task, but with some patience and the right techniques, it can be done effectively. Let’s dive into the most effective rawhide softening techniques.

Preparing Rawhide for Softening

Before starting the process of softening rawhide for dogs, it is important to prepare the rawhide properly. This will ensure that the softening process is efficient and effective. Here are some easy methods to soften and prepare rawhide for dogs:

  1. Trimming: Start by trimming any excess fat or meat from the rawhide. This will make it easier for the rawhide to absorb water or any other moisture-inducing agents.
  2. Cutting: Cut the rawhide into smaller pieces to make it easier to handle during the softening process. This will also ensure that the rawhide softens evenly.
  3. Scoring: Use a sharp knife to score the rawhide. This will allow the rawhide to absorb moisture more easily, thus speeding up the softening process.

By following these simple steps, you can make rawhide more pliable and easier to soften for your dog. The next step is to choose a softening method that works best for you and your pet.

Soaking Rawhide in Water

Soaking rawhide in water is one of the most popular and effective methods for softening tough rawhide for dogs. This method is quick and easy, and all you need is a bowl or container large enough to hold the rawhide and enough water to fully submerge it.

To start, fill a bowl or container with lukewarm water. Place the rawhide in the water, making sure it is fully submerged. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours for larger pieces. The water will help to break down the tough fibers in the rawhide and make it more pliable.

During the soaking process, you may need to occasionally agitate the rawhide to ensure that all parts of it are getting fully soaked. You can do this by gently stirring the water or pressing down on the rawhide with a spoon or your hands.

After the rawhide has soaked for the desired amount of time, remove it from the water and gently squeeze out any excess water. Do not twist or wring the rawhide, as this can damage it. Instead, pat it dry with a towel or paper towel, being careful not to rub too hard.

Once you have removed as much water as possible, you can begin to soften and mold the rawhide as desired using the other conditioning methods discussed in this article. Remember that rawhide must be completely dry before giving it to your dog, as wet or damp rawhide can be a choking hazard.

If you need to soften rawhide quickly, soaking it in warm water is a great option. It’s important to note, however, that this method may not work for extremely tough or thick pieces of rawhide. In these cases, you may need to use a combination of methods to achieve the desired level of softness.

Using a Moisture-Inducing Agent

If soaking rawhide in water doesn’t provide the desired level of softness, we can use a moisture-inducing agent to help condition the rawhide. This method can be particularly effective for thicker or tougher pieces of rawhide that require more pliability.

Common moisture-inducing agents include vegetable oil or broth. To use vegetable oil, we can simply apply a thin layer of oil onto the rawhide, ensuring that it’s evenly distributed. Alternatively, we can soak the rawhide in broth for up to an hour, depending on the thickness of the piece.

Once we’ve applied the moisture-inducing agent, we can massage and knead the rawhide to help distribute it evenly. This will help to soften the rawhide while also ensuring that the moisture is evenly distributed throughout the piece.

It’s important to note that excessive use of moisture-inducing agents can lead to spoilage, so we should only use a small amount and ensure that the rawhide is thoroughly dried before giving it to our dogs.

Massaging and Kneading Rawhide

Once the rawhide has been prepared for softening, the next step is to massage and knead it to improve its pliability. This technique is especially effective for thicker pieces of rawhide that have not softened adequately through soaking or other methods.

To begin, hold the rawhide firmly in one hand. With the other hand, apply pressure to the rawhide by gently squeezing and massaging it. Work from one end of the piece to the other, applying pressure evenly throughout.

Next, use your fingers to knead the rawhide. Use a rolling and twisting motion to help break down the fibers and increase the suppleness of the rawhide. Be sure to work the entire piece from end to end, focusing on any areas that still feel stiff or hard.

Repeat the massaging and kneading process several times until the rawhide is pliable and soft. It may take some time and effort to achieve the desired results, but the end result will be worth it for your dog’s dental health and chewing enjoyment.

Remember to supervise your dog while they are chewing on the softened rawhide to prevent choking or other injuries. And always store rawhide in a dry, cool place to prevent spoilage or rehardening.

Drying and Storing Softened Rawhide

Once you’ve successfully softened your rawhide, it’s important to dry it completely before giving it to your dogs. This will prevent bacteria growth and ensure that it doesn’t become slimy or sticky.

To dry your softened rawhide, place it on a raised surface or hang it from a hook or line. Make sure it’s in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and heat.

It’s also important to store your softened rawhide properly to prevent it from re-hardening. You can store it in a dry, cool place in an airtight container or sealable bag. This will help keep the moisture out and prolong the pliability of the rawhide.

By following these tips for drying and storing softened rawhide, you can ensure that your dog’s chews remain safe and effective for a longer period of time.


In conclusion, softening rawhide for dogs is an important process that ensures our pets can safely enjoy their chew toys. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, we can make rawhide more pliable and reduce the risk of choking or dental issues.

Remember to always prepare rawhide properly before attempting to soften it, and to choose a method that suits your preferences and schedule. Soaking rawhide in water or applying a moisture-inducing agent are both effective options, as is massaging and kneading the rawhide to improve its texture.

After softening the rawhide, be sure to allow it to dry completely before giving it to your dog. Following these steps will help ensure your pet’s safety and wellbeing when enjoying their favorite chew toys.

We hope this step-by-step guide has been helpful in teaching you how to soften tough rawhide for dogs. With a little patience and practice, you’ll be an expert at preparing rawhide and making it more pliable in no time!


Q: Why is it important to soften rawhide for dogs?

A: Softening rawhide is important for dogs because it helps prevent dental issues and choking hazards. Hard, unsoftened rawhide can be difficult for dogs to chew and can potentially damage their teeth. Softening rawhide makes it more pliable and easier for dogs to chew, reducing the risk of dental problems. It also helps prevent choking by reducing the likelihood of large chunks breaking off and getting stuck in the dog’s throat.

Q: What are the best ways to soften rawhide?

A: There are several effective methods for softening rawhide. Soaking rawhide in water is a common technique that can help make it more pliable. Using a moisture-inducing agent like vegetable oil or broth can also soften rawhide. Another method is to massage and knead rawhide to improve its pliability. Additionally, properly drying and storing softened rawhide is important to maintain its softened state.

Q: How long should rawhide be soaked in water?

A: The duration of soaking rawhide in water can vary depending on the thickness and size of the rawhide. As a general guideline, it is recommended to soak rawhide for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. However, for thicker or larger pieces, it may be necessary to soak them for a longer period of time to achieve optimal softness. It is important to monitor the rawhide during soaking to ensure it does not become too soft or disintegrate.

Q: Can I use other liquids besides water to soften rawhide?

A: Yes, you can use other liquids besides water to soften rawhide. Some popular choices include vegetable oil and broth. These liquids can add moisture and pliability to rawhide, making it easier for dogs to chew. When using other liquids, it is important to choose options that are safe for dogs and do not contain any harmful ingredients. Always check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about using specific liquids to soften rawhide.

Q: How should I massage and knead rawhide?

A: To massage and knead rawhide, start by holding the rawhide in your hands and applying gentle pressure. Use your fingers to work the rawhide, bending and flexing it in different directions. You can also roll it between your hands to further soften it. Repeat these motions for a few minutes, focusing on the areas that are still stiff or hard. Massaging and kneading rawhide helps break down the tough fibers and improve its pliability.

Q: How should I dry and store softened rawhide?

A: After softening rawhide, it is important to properly dry and store it to prevent re-hardening. Start by placing the softened rawhide in a well-ventilated area to air dry. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or heat sources, as this can cause the rawhide to become brittle. Once fully dry, store the softened rawhide in a cool, dry place away from moisture and humidity. Consider using airtight containers or ziplock bags to maintain its softness.

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