Are Collagen Chews Good for Dogs?

by Britt
Photo credit: EugeneEdge /

Are you searching for a tasty treat to keep your pup occupied? Have you heard the warnings made by experts about the potential dangers of rawhide chews and are struggling to find a healthy alternative for your dog? A newer type of dog chew is gaining popularity in the pet world, beloved both by pets and their parents alike.

Let’s discuss the benefits of collagen chews and why this would be a great option for your dog.

What Are Collagen Chews?

Before we get into the benefits, we’ll start with the basics. What exactly is a collagen chew? Like rawhide, a collagen chew is a dried animal product. However, it is made from the inner layer of a cow's skin instead of the hide. This may seem like a minor difference, but it makes the product much easier to digest, making it safer for pet parents concerned about the risk of obstructions associated with rawhide.

Collagen chew products are available in various forms, including flat chews, sticks, traditional bone shapes, and rings. Each variation of the chew ranges in size, thickness, and, therefore, chew difficulty level.

Do Vets Recommend Collagen Sticks?

Yes! Many veterinarians recommend collagen chews as a healthy alternative to rawhide. This healthy and natural chew option offers many health benefits, including joint issues and dry skin. Most collagen chews are made from all-natural ingredients and are free from fillers, artificial colors, and artificial flavors, making them a healthy replacement for your dog’s favorite rawhide bones.

Is Collagen Better Than Rawhide?

While both collagen chews and rawhides are long-lasting chew options, collagen chews address many of the health concerns related to rawhide. If your dog loves rawhide chews, this is a great alternative. Like rawhides, collagen chews are long-lasting. However, if your dog swallows a portion of the chew, its digestibility makes it less likely that you will find yourself at an emergency vet paying for surgery to remove an obstruction.

Are Collagen Sticks Better for Dogs Than Bully Sticks?

Both collagen chews and bully sticks are natural chews, meaning they are better options than many other options on the market. However, choosing the best option for your dog among natural options will depend on several factors, including your dog’s preferences and needs. For example, a heavy chewer will thrive with a different product than a dog that enjoys a more casual chew.

There is nothing wrong with giving your dog bully sticks. They are a high-protein natural chew that most veterinary professionals support. To determine the best chew for your dog, we recommend weighing the pros and cons of each option.

Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Bully sticks have a higher protein content. Collagen sticks, on the other hand, contain high levels of (obviously) collagen. Each has its own health benefits.
  • Collagen sticks tend to be harder to chew than bully sticks, making them a better option for heavy chewers.
  • Bully sticks are a little easier for younger dogs, senior dogs, and dogs with dental issues.
  • Bully sticks traditionally have a stronger smell, which can be more enticing for many dogs. However, that smell may be problematic for people who are sensitive to odors.

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Collagen Bones?

While collagen is considered safe for most dogs, your dog may have an allergy to the animal it comes from. For example, collagen chews made from the inner layer of a cow’s skin can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs allergic to beef. If you have a dog with food allergies, take the time to read the package to identify the source of the collagen before giving it to your dog.

How Often Can I Give My Dog Collagen Chews?

As with any treat offered to your dog, collagen chews should be given in moderation. They are high in calories, meaning too many chews could lead to unwanted weight gain.

The exact number of chews your dog can safely have will depend on several factors, including age, weight, dietary restrictions, and the chew you are considering. Most brands include feeding recommendations on the package to help you make the best choice for their product.

For example, the Nothin’ to Hide Collagen-Based Dog Chews from Fieldcrest Farms are a favorite in our house. Their website recommends no more than two chews per day for the average dog.

Photo credit: sophiecat /

7 Health Benefits of Collagen Chews for Your Dog

In addition to being a good rawhide alternative, one of the biggest reasons pet parents are embracing collagen-based chews is the health benefits these products offer our pups. After all, who wouldn’t love a product that gives excellent health benefits while making their dog feel like they are getting a special treat? It’s the best of both worlds!

Mental Enrichment

There has been much chatter recently in the pet space about the importance of mental enrichment to give our dogs the best possible lives. The most common products associated with providing our dogs the mental stimulation and enrichment they need are food puzzles and snuffle mats, but chewing is another mental enrichment activity that has been associated with lower levels of stress, anxiety, frustration, and boredom.

Healthy Joints and Muscles

One struggle faced by many dog parents, especially as their pups enter their golden years, is the need for products that will help support healthy joints and muscles. This is especially important for those of us with larger dogs prone to arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Collagen supports the connective tissues in your dog’s body, such as cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. It helps keep them strong and functioning while providing elasticity. These are key components in your dog’s joints and can wear down over time due to repeated use and movement. This isn’t to say collagen-based products will prevent arthritis, but they can help slow the effects of aging on the body and slow the development of arthritis in older dogs.

Better Skin and Coat Health

Are you looking for solutions to give your dog a shiny, healthy-looking coat? Does your dog struggle with dry or sensitive skin? Humans often use collagen products for healthy skin. They are said to improve skin elasticity, suppleness, and hydration, all of which will also improve a dog’s skin. This protein also plays a key role in keeping your dog’s coat looking shiny, glossy, and healthy.

Stronger Nails

If you have ever had to deal with a broken nail in your dog, you know how frustrating that can be for them. Not only does it hurt (a lot) due to all the nerve endings in the nail, but it also bleeds considerably. Collagen helps to boost the proteins and amino acid peptides to encourage the growth of strong, healthy nails, preventing brittleness and breakage.

Bone Strength

Do you ever worry about your older dog suffering from injuries due to bones that have weakened with age? We’ve all heard the jokes about an elderly person “breaking a hip,” but we don’t want that to be a reality for our furry friends. Much like your dog’s nails, collagen works to help improve the strength of their bones. This prevents injuries by allowing the bones to stand up to your dog’s daily routine, stopping the bones from becoming brittle and easily broken.

Improved Gut Health

You may be surprised to learn that collagen-based products can also improve your dog’s digestive health. More specifically, they support a healthy gut. Collagen boosts the digestive system in several ways, including reducing inflammation in the gut, strengthening the lining of the stomach and intestines, promoting beneficial gut bacteria (yes, some bacteria are good for your dog), and improving the rate of nutrient absorption to ensure your dog gets the most out of their meals.

Relieve Arthritis Aches and Pains

This isn’t as obvious a benefit and won’t relieve all the pain your arthritic dog may be feeling overnight. However, if your dog is still in the early stages of arthritis, adding collagen to their daily routine may help to keep them comfortable.

It helps to support healthy cartilage, which is lost due to arthritis. Unfortunately, it won’t help to regenerate cartilage, but it can help to strengthen and support the cartilage that your dog has left. It also helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation not only includes swelling in the joints themselves, which causes pain, but it can also impact nerves in the body, causing additional pain or reducing movement and muscle control.

What Are the Possible Risks of Collagen Chews for Dogs?

The most significant risk in giving your dog collagen chews is that they could break off and swallow a larger piece of the chew, as they could with rawhides or bully sticks. This introduces concerns like choking and obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract or the bowels. An obstruction occurs when the body cannot break down a substance fast enough to allow it to pass safely through the digestive tract.

Collagen chews are more digestible than rawhide, meaning the risk is far greater. However, a bully stick may be the better option for dogs known to swallow pieces of their chews due to its high digestibility level.

The best way to prevent obstruction from any form of chew is to supervise your dog carefully. The final piece is the biggest culprit, as your dog is finishing their chew. Products are available designed to hold bully sticks and collagen sticks, preventing your dog from accessing the small final pieces of the chew. We have had a great experience with the Bow Wow Buddy Safety Device from Bow Wow Labs with our pups. You simply place one end of your dog’s chew stick in the holder and tighten it to hold it securely out of your dog’s reach.

Another significant risk to consider is the impact harder chews like collagen chew can have on your dog’s teeth. While a healthy adult dog can chew these products without problems, the same can’t be said for those whose teeth may not be as strong. This includes young puppies, seniors, and those who have previously experienced dental problems. If you want to give your dog the benefits of collagen, there are still treat products that are easier to chew (and don’t last nearly as long), but these high-risk groups should not be given a traditional collagen chew for fear of tooth breakage.

Final Thoughts on Dog Collagen Chews

If you have a dog who is a chewer, one of the best approaches to saving your shoes and table legs is to offer a safe alternative. Collagen chews are not only safe but also provide many health benefits for your dog, making them a popular recommendation from veterinarians.

From thin collagen sticks and chews to larger collagen bones for heavy chewers, there are products for dogs of all sizes, ages, and chewing abilities.

Treat your pup to something special and try a collagen chew today!

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Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Indiana and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.

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