Steve Duensing, owner of Wholesome Hide, Inc., discusses how his company continues to prove that rawhide products can be a healthy, delicious way to satisfy a dog’s natural urge to chew.
Tell us about Wholesome Hide’s approach to producing high-quality, safe dog chews. What makes the company stand out from other dog chew manufacturers? We’ve resisted the pressure to cheapen our products, as some manufacturers have. We don’t split the hide into sheets to increase the yield, and we don’t hide scraps and fillers inside or buy import bones to mix in with domestically produced product. The result is a thick, tough, safe and tasty dog chew that pet parents can have confidence in.
What are some of the common misconceptions that retailers and pet owners have about rawhide products? Why are these beliefs off base? Rawhide gets beat up online with statements that range from concern to the ridiculous. Most of the wilder statements can be tracked back to someone promoting a competing non-rawhide treat.
We’ve seen statements that claim all rawhide chews contain arsenic or formaldehyde, or that they are glued together and painted white. The person making the claims clearly has no idea how rawhide chews are made.
Others cite a couple of university studies and make claims that are unsubstantiated by the research, which was paid for by the maker of the product being studied. Yet, some retailers and dog owners take those comments as truth, and that hurts our industry.
Canines have been gnawing on raw hides for 10,000 years. When made properly, as we make them at Wholesome Hide, there is no sturdier natural product that can satisfy a dog’s urge to chew. There is also no easier and better way to keep a dog’s teeth and gums healthy.
What are some misconceptions that retailers and pet owners have about rawhide alternatives? Do you feel that the way these products are marketed can be misleading? Many retailers and pet owners feel that if it’s a “rawhide alternative,” it has to be safe and good for dogs. One look at the ingredients panel would tell them otherwise. One of the leading “alternative” treats has more than a dozen ingredients, including fructose, artificial flavors and a lot of preservatives. A popular pork treat maker lists sugar as its second ingredient. Both are made in developing countries where history has shown that oversight can be spotty. Many makers of the “alternative” treats rely on unsubstantiated anecdotes and unproven claims about rawhide in an attempt to scare people into buying their products.
Can you tell us about some of Wholesome Hide’s most popular products? What are the key features of these products? Wholesome Hide’s most popular product is the Super Thick Retriever Roll. It’s about as big as a rolled-up newspaper and made from one or two big sheets of thick, fresh beef hide. It’s perfect for big dogs and smaller dogs that think they’re big dogs.
Our basic shapes, bones, rolls, donuts and sticks make up the majority of our orders. Most customers choose naturally flavored products, however a variety of basted options are also available. All products are made at our plant from USA-sourced beef hide and provide the safest, most satisfying chewing experience ever.
What are the latest product introductions from Wholesome Hide? How do these products innovate the dog chew category? We are enjoying great success with our gourmet ground rawhide protein shapes. Whether bars, burgers or novelty shapes, these crunchy chews are blended with USA-sourced dried vegetables, duck, chicken or pork. Typically, they will contain only one or two healthy ingredients, so not only are these chews delicious for dogs, they’re good for them too.
Aside from offering a lineup of high-quality products, how does Wholesome Hide help drive success for pet stores in the dog chews category? What types of sales and marketing support do you provide to retailers? We offer our retailers store signage, brochures and an online listing on wholesomehide.com. We are also producing shelf talkers that visually explain the difference between a good-quality rawhide chew and one that’s poorly made. We offer periodic promotions throughout the year.
What does the future hold for the dog chews category overall, and Wholesome Hide specifically? While the overall market for dog chews is strong, rawhide manufacturers are being challenged by unsubstantiated claims from companies offering “alternative” treats. While some of these treats may be fine for dogs, others contain ingredients that are not good for dogs, such as sugar and artificial coloring. Some are made in developing countries where manufacturing accountability has been historically low.
Despite this, Wholesome Hide enjoys a large and loyal following of dog owners who appreciate the wholesome goodness and attention to detail that we build into every bone. PB