Why Dog Treats Made in the USA Doesn't Always Equal Quality?

Most US dog owners are familiar with the all too familiar reports of foreign dog chews and food harming and even killing dogs. Loving dog owners would never purposefully give their dogs potentially deadly chews. But, are you doing so unwittingly?

Dog owners who understand the potential and very undesirable risks of feeding their dogs foreign sourced chews diligently purchase only "Made in the USA" chews. Even though made in the USA dog chews typically cost more, our fur babies are well worth the extra cost. We are acting responsibly as we would for any other member of our family. Shouldn't that be enough? Yes, it should be but it isn't. Made in the USA is not equivalent with Sourced in the USA.

Many dog chew manufacturers state that its products have been made with USDA inspected raw ingredients. What that means is that the product was sourced in a foreign country and was approved for entry into the US by the USDA. The product is then cooked in the USA - hence the "Made in the USA" claim. While it's technically correct, it's very misleading because most consumers believe that the raw product was both sourced and cooked in the US.

When chew manufacturers claim its products are "Made in the USA" using USDA inspected product, there is really no way of knowing if the claims being made about the foreign sourced product are even true: Were the animals really raised without antibiotics and other drugs? Were they only grass fed? Were they raised in a humane way? Was the raw product harvested in a safe and humane manner? Once the product was harvested, was proper storage and transportation procedures used? Was rancid and waste product frozen and sold along with other raw product? There is absolutely no way of knowing the answers to these questions. When the offal (animal parts) arrive and are inspected for entry and processing in the USA, the USDA has no way of knowing the answers to these questions either.

If that's the case, then why aren't more US chew manufacturers using only US sourced raw product? There are really two primary answers. First, product sourced outside the US is typically much, much cheaper. Secondly, there is not enough raw product in the US to meet consumer demand. Top chew categories that are very often sourced from a foreign country are bully sticks and femur bones. Ever wonder why your bully sticks have a strong, offensive odor? That should be the first clue that it was sourced outside the US. Anytime a company is able to supply a seemingly endless supply of bully sticks and offer a price that consumers consider a "great deal," you should automatically think foreign sourced product. And yet, most of these products will carry the "Made in the USA" claim giving consumers the impression that the raw product also came from the US.

Ever wonder why one company is able to sell a femur bone for $4 while another company sells the same bone for over twice that? You can bet there's a very high likelihood that the $4 bone was sourced outside the USA. So that $4 investment might actually cost you a heck of a lot more than the more expensive, US sourced and made femur bone in the long run by way of more vet bills, shorter life expectancy, etc.

As dog lovers, we should demand that all dog food and chew companies stop the trickery. The country where the product has been sourced should be a mandatory label requirement and yet it isn't. Companies making huge margins passing off foreign sourced product as "Made in the USA" have no incentive to ensure this happens. The only way this trickery will end is if US consumers demand it. Write to companies and insist for more transparency. Contact the USDA and demand new and improved label requirements for dog chews and food. Unless we demand it, it's not going to happen.

In the meantime, don't assume the "Made in the USA" claim on dog chews means the raw product was raised in the US. Demand to know where the product was sourced. Without source information, "Made in the USA" holds very little, if any, value. We all love our dogs - they are part of our families! Part of keeping them safe and healthy is knowing the source of the food and chews we feed them. Unless a product specifically says "Sourced & Made in the USA" you can't be sure. Without disclosure, look for the three big giveaways of foreign sourced product: off odor, low cost, and an endless supply.