Myths and Realities about Rawhide Dog Chews
From Wholesome Hide USA Sourced, USA Made Rawhide Dog Treats
As a small, family-owned American business, Wholesome Hide and its owner have made rawhide treats for dogs for nearly 30 years. Wanting to maintain a hard-earned reputation for producing safe, healthy rawhide chews, the company has always sourced its products exclusively from the USA and has never substituted or “mixed in” import product, even when supplies of USA beef hide were hard to come by. Periodically, myths and wild stories about rawhide treats make the rounds online and are sometime taken as “universal truth.” Many of these stories may have some basis in fact as they pertain to import rawhide treats, but are NOT true of USA-sourced, USA-made chews. We have attempted to address some of the myths and realities so that dog parents can make up their own minds and not be unduly influenced by people who claim to be experts but obviously know very little about how rawhide treats are actually made.
1. REALITY: There’s a BIG difference between USA-sourced and import rawhide products.
Wholesome Hide makes its rawhide treats in the USA only from fresh USA-sourced beef hide. We don’t split the hides into layers to get more yield per hide as almost all Mexican, South American and Chinese manufacturers do. We don’t need to use chemicals to thicken and stabilize old hide. Nor do we use chemicals to whiten or add weight. The biggest problem with import treats is that they split the hides into thin layers, fill it with scraps and waste and then use sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to add weight to the product. That’s bad for dogs and is the reason many dogs get very thirsty after eating import rawhides. We NEVER use those chemicals in making Wholesome Hide products.
There is very little regulation of rawhide products. That’s why it’s so important only to buy USA-sourced and USA-made products. If there’s ever a question about our products, it’s easy to find our plant—it’s in Dolton just south of Chicago. When you buy import products you have no idea where it was really made or what’s in it.
2. MYTH: Rawhide chews have poison inside.
Not even the worst rawhide manufacturer overseas uses arsenic or formaldehyde to make rawhide chews. First, neither one of those chemicals contributes anything to the final product. Second, those chemicals are too expensive to use anyway. How did this myth get started? Twenty-five years ago, a Chinese company decided to make rawhide chews. They put their wet hide products in the sun to dry. The flies had a field day. The plant manager ordered his employees to spray the treats with fly spray. Want to guess what was in the spray? Sadly, many American dogs died as a result. But it wasn’t the result of poison ingredients, just stupidity.
At Wholesome Hide, all our hides are sourced in the USA. They arrive in refrigerated trucks. We store them in industrial refrigeration units until they can be processed into bones and rolls. When we process the hides, we put them in giant turning drums that look like big cement mixers. We add thousands of gallons of fresh water and a light solution of hydrogen peroxide to kill germs. (A good thing.) Then we rinse them for more than two hours so there is no residual hydrogen peroxide and the hides are supple and clean.
3. MYTH: Rawhide expands in a dog’s stomach.
Think about it. When a dog chews rawhide, it has to get it wet enough with saliva to break a piece off to swallow it. If it’s wet enough to swallow, it’s too wet to absorb any more moisture. (Once a sponge is saturated, it won’t take on any more fluid no matter how hard you try). Our rawhides are very thick as we don’t split them once the top grain has been removed. Import chews are made from hide that is split at least once, making them almost paper thin. Dogs can break off pieces of the thin chews and swallow larger pieces which could occasionally cause a problem by going down the esophagus slowly, making the dog feel as if it is choking. The bigger hazard is if the dog snaps off a dry piece of thin hide and swallows it, scratching or cutting the esophagus. That’s never been an issue with Wholesome Hide rawhide chews.
4. REALITY: Dogs have been chewing on rawhide for thousands of years.
Canines have been eating dried animal skin for millennia. (And a lot worse if they go outside). They can handle it. It also keeps their teeth clean, their gums healthy and provides them with a way to burn off excess energy. Despite our attempts to come up with more “civilized” chews such as nylon, pressed vegetable matter and whatnot, dogs still prefer an animal-based chew. Our naturally processed chews smell like a butcher shop. That’s why dogs love them! Import products smell like a chemical factory. A healthy USA-sourced rawhide treat is as good as it gets.
5. MYTH: Rawhide is made from rotten leather.
In some developing countries, especially tropical ones, it takes a long time for the hides to get from the countryside to the plant in the city. That’s why they have to use bleaches, whiteners and preservatives. Our hides come from processing plants that separate the hides to be used for consumption and those to be processed into leather. USA rawhide is NEVER treated with leather tanning chemicals and is kept refrigerated until its arrival at our plant.
6. MYTH: Rawhide bones are glued together.
No rawhide treats that we know of use “glue” to hold them together. Yes, rawhide, when exposed to low heat for a long time, can liquefy and become a glue-like substance, but that is a whole different industry and has nothing to do with dog treats. They hold together quite nicely on their own when dry. In fact, the same beef hide we use to make dog treats is also used to make gelatin for gelatin desserts and sausage casing for human consumption. That’s all that we want to say about that!
7. MYTH: Rawhide bones are painted white.
Import treats that are dark are sometimes whitened with titanium dioxide. That’s a chemical used to make white paint. And toothpaste. It’s typically mixed into the wash water in overseas plants, but NEVER at our plant in the USA. Fresh beef hide is pretty white to begin with. We don’t need to make it whiter. Our natural processing does yield a product that ranges from light gold to white but that is the natural color variation of the fresh hide.
8. REALITY: LOTS of veterinarians not only recommend rawhide, they SELL IT.
Some veterinarians, especially older ones, don’t recommend rawhide. Many of them pass along the myths they’ve heard from their patients, not necessarily from professional experience. Dozens of veterinarians not only recommend Wholesome Hide, they sell it in their retail departments. They obviously feel that our products are not only safe, but are beneficial for their patients.
Our own “canine family” at Wholesome Hide includes a Jack Russell puppy who get’s her fill of USA rawhide and hasn’t slowed down a bit! We also have a 12-year-old Newfie whose vet says her teeth look like they belong to a dog half her age.
9. REALITY: You can do your own research and practice common sense.
Most dogs can handle USA rawhide treats. Some cannot. Rather than relying on internet stories and anecdotes from people who think they “know everything” about caring for dogs, explore for yourself. Read the research from people who do serious exploration (such as Whole Dog Journal). Try a USA rawhide treat and see how your dog responds. Make sure you get a chew that’s a little bigger than what you might choose. Supervise the chewing and take the chew away after 20 minutes or so. You may find that USA rawhide fills an important role in your dog’s life providing an enjoyable experience and keeping its teeth and gums healthy.