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.  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.

Dog eat dog 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


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 ReportHSUS Article Closeup 1HSUS 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.


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)

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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