Rawhide chews & bones: Soylent green for dogs

My name is Bonnie Carey.  I recently conducted a test of some rawhide treats for dogs on my website and blog, Naomi The Dog.  The results were stunning.  The original blog article is here:  Rawhide Chews & Rawhide Bones: More “Soylent Green” for Our Dogs?.   Mollie has been very gracious and invited me to be a guest author to share the article with you here:

In our local grocery store the other day, I noticed something very strange about the packaging of the store brand of rawhide chews.

Of course, nowadays reading product packaging is almost equivalent to reading a legal document in which you have to have a technical background to understand all the loopholes in the language allowed to be used on the packaging.  The pet food industry has a particularly checkered record when it comes to truth in ingredient and packaging issues. The FDA has been willing to turn a blind eye and give mystery ingredients in dog food a pass for years, even knowing that a large number of commercial dog foods contain the remains of euthanized cats and dogs from rendering plants.

Yet, there was something particularly odd about the packaging language (or lack of) on those rawhide chews I found in the grocery store.  A question.  A huge question.  I decided to buy the rawhides and take a closer look.

Now, after doing the research and performing a test, I have found out more than I ever wanted to know.  It’s a screaming nightmare.

The Rawhide Chews in Question:

The "Natural" Rawhide Chews

It was odd that the ingredients were not disclosed on this packaging label.  These rawhide chews were tiny and were of a different color than many other rawhide chews.  Perhaps, it was because they weren’t bleached as so many rawhide chews are?  I noticed too that these rawhide chews were made in Taiwan, not a place noted for their humanistic treatment of dogs.

I compared them to a different brand of rawhide chews made in the USA, which clearly states the ingredients on the labeling:

The Clearly Labeled Rawhides

Out of the package, the mystery meat rawhide chew from Taiwan (above) and the beef rawhide chew from the USA (below):

Both Rawhide Bones Out of Their Packaging

The Test:

I put them each in a dish and poured hot water over them to soften them.  Then waited for about an hour.  The results were stunning.

Once expanded in the water, the rawhide from Taiwan (left) was very thin, very lean, and small as though it came from a small animal.  There was an inner strip of twisted material which did not expand in the hot water at all.

The beef rawhide (right) became very thick and was very soft and fatty, just as one would expect a beef rawhide to be.

The Rawhides After Testing

Conclusion:

Exactly what the mystery meat rawhide from Taiwan is made of, I could not say for sure without performing genetic testing, but it is very questionable.  Could it be made out of dogs or cats?

I did find something very interesting in a report about an undercover study done by the Humane Society of the United States about the fur trade in China, Thailand and the Philippines.  Dog and cat fur from those countries has been used in coats, clothing, and accessories on a worldwide scale, including the United States, for years.  It continues to be, even today.  The dog and cat skin industry, including the skin used in rawhide chews, is a part of it.  The companies who utilize these products are able to get by by using the kinds of generic names and labeling not so unlike the labeling of the mystery meat rawhide chews that are the subject of this article.  The deception is all perfectly legal.

In that report by the HSUS, there was also a specific mention of dog and cat skin being used in the manufacture of rawhide chews.  Here is a screen capture of that page:

From the HSUS Undercover Report

HSUS Article Closeup 1

HSUS Article Closeup 2

Final thoughts:

Our dogs can live very happy and full lives without rawhide chews.  It would be better not to purchase them at all.  If you feel that you absolutely must buy rawhide chews for your dog, check to make sure that the ingredients are very clearly stated on the package first.  Otherwise, there is a high probability that they might be “Soylent Green” for dogs.

The dog and cat fur and skin industry in China, Thailand and the Philippines is shockingly cruel… a horror story that I will not get over reading about for a long time.  It was extremely difficult to research and write this blog article, but it was a story that absolutely had to be told.

We in the United States and Europe are also not without blame.  Our stores continue to stock those products.  We create laws designed to make it easy to keep importing and selling them.  The FDA provides little oversight, especially where pet products and food are concerned.  We continue to purchase (knowingly or unknowingly) those furs and rawhide treats made from dog skin and fur which further fuels that industry.  We also are not exactly nice to many animals here, especially when we consider what goes on in our own factory farms and slaughter houses.

Resources:

What-is-that-they-re-wearing_FurBooklet.pdf – This is the link to the undercover study by the HSUS about the dog and cat fur industry in China, Thailand and the Philippines.  It is revolting.  It is in this study that rawhide chews made from dog and cat skin is specifically mentioned.  (You’ll need the free Adobe Reader or some other program that can read .pdf files to view.)

http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/chinese-fur-industry.aspx – A link to the PETA report about the fur industry in China.  Rawhide chews (animal skins) are a part of that industry.

http://www.bornfreeusa.org/articles.php?more=1&p=518- Article about the cat and dog fur trade, how and why their fur and skin products continue to be sold in the US.

Thank you very much for your invitation, Mollie.  I hope your readers are finding this information helpful.

-Bonnie Carey

Source:

Rawhide Chews & Rawhide Bones: More “Soylent Green” for Our Dogs? (Naomi The Dog)

Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is a consumer advocate and pet food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO's Pet Food Committee and Ingredient Definitions Committee and (more importantly) is mom to seven cats. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (14) Write a comment

  1. Forgive me for not being a native speaker of English, some of my words might not be able to accurately explain what I tried to say, but I will do my best.

    1)I’m not saying that 70~80 is good enough. There are many choices of food that we can give to our little companions. As a matter of fact, some owners feed their pets with table food or even leftovers! As a vet, in my personal opinion, most of the qualified commercial pet food are better than leftovers. What I’m trying to say here is that commercial pet food is one of the choices, home-made food is another, maybe better in many aspects, but none of them is absolutely superior to one another. You cannot expect a owner who has to work 12 hours a day & not even cook for her/himself to make home-made food for her/his pet.

    2) Wow, I would really like to know how much you have to spend on Naomi’s food every month, just give me a rough number. In the place I’m from, The majority of dogs are toy-breed or mid-sized. I estimate that it costs about 30~60 USD per dog if any leading brand of dry dog food (All of them come from US/Europe)is chosen for use. When it comes to commercial raw food, the cost will range some where between 60USD and 120USD. And if owners decided to prepare the food for their pets with human-grade organic ingredients like you do, it will cost them at least 150~250 USD or more every month on a dog in my country. For you reference, a pound of premium US beef (not even organic!) in Costco costs me 15~25 USD in my country(We don’t have enough cows for food consumption).

    3) I checked all the links you listed in the section “Resources” in your article. The first one is a PDF file, I read it and I searched for the keyword “taiwan” within the content, no returns. So I went to the second website, PETA. This time I looked for the keyword “china” first then I had about more than five pages of results, with the very first one titled “China Dog and Cat Fur Market Investigation | PETA.org”. I also searched for the keyword “taiwan” in this website, this time I got nine returns. I checked each of the results and did not find any information regarding the relationship between Taiwan and “fur industry” or “fur/leather trade”. The last one is the website of “BornFreeUSA”, I found some articles about Taiwan for primate trade and some issues about wild animals.

    Just like what I have said in my previous post, we might have a lot to do in the issue of animal welfare. We might not doing so well so far in shelters and on dog breeders’ farms. But what you have implied in your original article and your later comment on we people in Taiwan live on raising/capturing/slaughtering dogs/cats for commercial use is another story. And for me, it’s an unacceptable accusation. Imagine what if I told you that I saw a news on CNN about finding a dog slaughterhouse in New York city this morning, your will be as stunned as I was when I saw your original post and your comment.

    Most of the people in the states may think that we (people from Taiwan)are the same with people from mainland China. We are all look the same, speak the same language and use the same characters. But we are not the same in many other aspects.

    You mentioned about”cruel pictures from Taiwan of that industry “, I would really like to see them but I have difficulties in finding them in the websites you listed. Could you show me some links about the “cat/dog” fur and skin industry of Taiwan, but please be sure not to direct me into those from photos/videos/reports taken in “CHINA”.

    I have never and will never work for pet food companies or fur industry. I came here for the follow-up of what you have posted about rawhide bones made in Taiwan. I wanted to offer some helps for those dogs/cats if what you posted is really happening in my country. It will be very nice of you if you can show a little courtesy and not being so mean to a person just trying to help.

    Reply

    • As far as the vastly improved conditions for dogs in Taiwan that you have tried to convince us exist, here is just one link to one of the reports about the reality about their living conditions that are happening in Taiwan TODAY:

      http://www.actasia.org/dogs-taiwan.html

      QUOTE FROM THE ARTICLE: “Then [the dogs] are transported to pounds which are usually in garbage dumps, or in remote areas near cemeteries, or SLAUGHTERHOUSES.”

      NOW, WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE THEY DO WITH ALL THAT DOG MEAT, SKIN AND FUR? That is certainly no “underground operation”. Of course, according to you, that would never happen today in Taiwan, right?

      What kind of a veterinarian pretends not to know about that? If you were really the veterinarian you say you are, you definitely would know.

      It is interesting that you have said: “I have never and will never work for pet food companies or fur industry.” I don’t recall anyone saying that you did, do you? It is very remarkable that, as a “veterinarian”, you brought that up.

      Would a veterinarian have responded to the article by so strongly defending the dog food industry as somehow the most sensible and cost-effective way to feed your pet, and imply that to not use commercial dog food is completely unrealistic? A veterinarian would have expressed more concern about the chronic diseases they are seeing in their practice that are a result of the poor nutritional quality of so much commercial pet food.

      Would a veterinarian have claimed in an earlier post that 70-80% nutritional quality in a pet food is okay? Would a veterinarian have cited figures like that in defense of the dog food industry?

      Would a veterinarian have attempted such a whitewash?

      Would a veterinarian have responded with such a strong degree of blind patriotism, often a cover these days for corporatism, rather than concern? This isn’t about nationalism. As I made clear in the article, the problem is worldwide, and that would include U.S. corporations who have benefitted.

      Would a veterinarian try to play the race card as a dirty little, underhanded last resort and attempt at intimidation, as you have done?

      Would a veterinarian end their post by trying to martyr themself out of this, claiming that somehow I am mean to you and you are so “helpful”? You haven’t been at all “helpful”. What you have really been is extraordinarily defensive and extremely manipulative.

      The kinds of things you have said don’t sound at all like the kinds of things any reputable veterinarian would say.

      So……. “DOCTOR YU-LIN KUO”……

      On the internet, you can claim to be anyone, but it is unlikely that you are a veterinarian any more than I am a fairy princess.

      Whoever you really are, you probably work for or have a financial interest in the pet food industry. You people are all over the internet these days in full damage control mode.

      Reply

  2. I do think that it is important also to add that no one knows exactly what the rawhide chews in question are made out of… at least not yet. They could be made out of anything: rats, rabbits, pigs, etc… or even beef. Whatever these turn out to be, it will not erase the facts about the dog and cat skin industry in China, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philppines.

    It is also important not to forget, as I pointed out in the original article, that it is not just the countries responsible for the first-hand cruelties that are responsible for perpetuating the problem. The companies in other countries who use the fur, many of whom deliberately mislabel it on some articles of clothing, are also to blame. So are the consumers worldwide who knowingly or unknowingly purchase them, as are the lawmakers worldwide who knowingly create laws designed to perpetuate the industry by allowing them to be so easily imported.

    It is inappropriate for you to try to railroad the conversation into some sort of a nationalistic Taiwan thing only. Yes, they are “rawhide” sticks with no ingredients listed on the label from a part of the world where the problem persists. But they were also distributed, knowingly or unknowingly, by an American company that, for some reason, elected to leave the ingredients off of their label.

    Reply

  3. Hello everyone!

    I’m a vet from Taiwan, the place in which those rawhide treats you guys mentioned above may come from of. During these years of practice I’ve learned & realized a little bit more about some things that you will never be told in the school or TV commercials, those “unspoken” in the pet food industry. I always told my clients that a premium commercial pet food will meet about 70%~80% of their daily needs, while a nutritional balanced home-made food could have done 90 or even better! But a well-prepared home-made fodd could cost you much much more time & cost on it (at least double or triple). So most of the owners still choose commercial food/treats for their daily use.
    For the safety issue, it is important that all the consumers to be informed detailedly with all the ingredients of what they are going to purchase.

    What you have discovered in these treats is definitely questionable, but as an individual from where these products can be manufactured, I have to clarify some things.

    1) Yes, I have to admit that we people in TAIWAN are not treating animals as friendly as most of you do in the states or most places in Europe, but we have been working on this issue for many years. We had Animal protection Act issued in 1998. If one mistreats an animal now, he/she will be fined for some money or even put into jail for a while.

    2) As far as I know, there is no so-called “dog/cat industry” here on this small island. Taiwan is a very small place and highly populated, you can hide nothing here. Maybe some people of old generation still eat dog, but I think it’s only one out of a hundred thousand. Maybe a few guys catch dogs & cats illegaly for comercial uses, but these underground business is not big enough to be considered as an “industry”.

    3) People in some places of asia do live on dogs/cats by killing & selling them. You can easily buy slaughtered dogs/cats bodies in wet marketplaces LEGALLY in CHINA (mainland china), Tailand, Vietnam, South Korea and maybe some other less economically developed countries in south-east asia, but never in TAIWAN, I can assure you that.

    4) I think the best way to stop all these things is stop buying those merchandises without detailed labels. If they(businessmen) don’t make a fortune on it, they’ll stop doing all these stupid & unhumane things.

    And if, if it turns out that it’s really made from dogs’ or cats’ skin, can you let me know the information of the manufacturer or the distributor. If one of them is in Taiwan, I think some people in government could have done something to stop them and make them punished. I may be able to do some helps.

    Reply

    • -70-80% of a pet’s nutritional needs is not good enough…. except to the pet food manufacturers. That is one of the reasons why so many pets are coming down with unusual chronic diseases and cancers.

      -Homemade dog food costing double or triple? I make all of Naomi’s food using top quality human-grade organic ingredients and it costs me less than feeding premium commercial canned food. There is a time investment involved, but it is not a problem. I consider it to be time well-spent.

      -The Human Society of the United States, PETA, other animal protection organizations, and many fur clothing manufacturers who benefit from that industry would definitely disagree with your silly assertion that there is no “so-called ‘dog/cat’ industry” in Taiwan. In fact, there are sickeningly cruel pictures from Taiwan of that industry in the report by the HSUS (and others) that I listed in the “Resources” section at the end of my article. Would you like to see more? The fact is that the cat/dog fur and skin industry is HUGE in Taiwan, as much as you would like to try to whitewash the fact or pretend it isn’t doesn’t even exist.

      Reply

  4. Yikes! These stories just get more and more horrific – makes me crazy!!! I think more people might ‘vote with their wallets’ if they were aware of these things, and stop buying this stuff. Most people have access to the internet these days… I think every pet owner ought to belong to at least one pet discussion group or bookmark an informative blog site like this one to keep up on the latest chatter. I can’t imagine that most people would continue to buy products from China if they were aware of even a fraction of what is happening. So many people have no clue. Join a group people!

    Reply

  5. Several of us could by the Waggin Train chicken jerky treats in different states….send the package to this guy and see if he can do what the FDA seems unable to do.

    Reply

  6. I’ll be happy to donate for the testing. Why can’t he do some testing on Waggin Train for us? I’d donate for that too.

    Susan

    Reply

    • Thank you Susan for your donation!! As I mention in my letter, ACGT only does species identification by DNA analysis – also known as genetic auditing. He does not do toxicological testing. You can call or e-mail him to have him explain the complexities of searching for an unknown toxin. Believe me – it is very very expensive.

      Reply

  7. So how much would genetic testing cost?
    Where could we bring those rawhides you do not trust to … ?

    I am willing to donate $ 10,- maybe even $ 20,- to find out .. and there would be lickely other people who would want to know …

    Reply

    • As a matter of fact I do know of just the person: Eddie Diehl, PhD at ACGT Inc.(www.acginc.com). His other website is http://www.petfooddnatest.com.

      All he does is species identification & genetic auditing by DNA analysis.

      And no, he is NOT affiliated with Big Pet Food. In fact, he is an avid advocate for safe pet food and friend of Susan Thixton at http://www.TruthAboutPetfood.com.

      He got into testing pet food because he wanted to find out if pet food contained canine or feline DNA; which began as a result of FDA testing that found the presence of pentobarbital in pet food, which led to the speculation that euthanized pets were in pet food.

      Anyway, it says on his website it’s $95 for DNA analysis for 1-3 samples: http://www.petfooddnatest.com/ordering.html.

      If anyone wants to chip-in and match Sophia’s generous offer – I’ll match her $20. Just click the donate button at the bottom of the sidebar on Poisoned Pets and we can have Bonnie send the treats off to ACGT, Inc. What do you think?

      Questions? email Dr. Diehl at ed_diehl@acgtinc.com.

      Reply

      • Yes, I would be willing to do this. It is a very good idea.

        I went back to the store and got another package of them so that the ones sent would be in an unopened and unadulterated package. Right next to them was another kind, a blended mini-stick, called “Munchy Stix”, also from Taiwan with no ingredients listed. I got those too since the price for the DNA testing is for 1-3 samples. (I hate buying these horrible things and supporting the industry, but it is necessary to do that for this.)

        Dr. Diel seems very legit. He evidently does a lot of this. I have downloaded the order form. I will need some help with the cost. The purchase of all the rawhides, shipping, etc. I can take care of. When I send them off… and the sooner we do this the better… I will post the delivery confirmation and shipment information.

        Reply

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