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If you are a dog owner or you are new to having a pet, you must have asked yourself are bully sticks good for dogs or not? Especially, if you are tired of your champion chewer chewing every exiting thing in your house.
Dogs can literally chew every single item at home. As a dog owner, you probably found your shoes or any other items you left on the floor mauled.
Honestly, chewing is extremely annoying. You probably, thought that well there is nothing to do about chewing. Dogs are natural chewers. You can’t change their instincts. Well, let me tell you NO. Actually, you can do something about it without changing the laws of nature.
Since chewing is a universal problem for dog owners, there are several solutions such as chew toys, bones, and rawhide products on the market. As a matter of fact, if you are interested in those, we have already reviewed some of the best chew toys in the market. You can check them.
However, there is one solution that you may probably know which is bully sticks. if you haven’t already heard of them, they are a very popular alternative for chew toys and treats. Well, although bully sticks are used a lot, there will always be the question of whether they are good or bad.
Bully sticks are a way better alternative than other chew treats. The market is actually full junk. Whereas, bully sticks are a safer and more nutritional way to get that chewing urge off your dog without ruining your furniture.
However, there is a misconception over what are bully stick? What are they made of? If you have ever seen them, you probably asked yourself are they safe or not. If you want to know more about them, I advise you to keep reading. You will definitely find your answer. Well at least, I hope.
What are bully sticks :
Before asking the question are bully sticks good for dogs? You probably should ask what are bully sicks in the first place?
Bully sticks are not solely called so. There are many names for this chew treat. Since actually there is a variation of bully sticks on the market. You may have encountered it before yet with the different name. plus, you may have already purchased on one without knowing.
Here are some other commonly used names for bully sticks :
- bull sticks
- pizzle sticks
- bull pizzles
- steer sticks
Manufacturers will always opt for words like “large tendons” or “dried muscles”. They won’t definitely tell you the truth. Well, that’s because the truth is a little bit harsh in this case lol.
“There tends to be confusion about this. Many people think bully sticks are made of muscle, but they are not,” says Dr Kerri Wiedmeyer, an emergency veterinarian with WVRC Emergency & Specialty Pet Care in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Okay, are you ready for it? Bully sticks are a single ingredient chew treat. That lone ingredient is actually a bull penis. Yeah, that’s not your dirty mind you read it right. They are made of a bull penis.
Well for us this sounds so unappealing, yet that’s not the case for dogs. Dogs find bull penis so appetizing. Bully sticks are sold raw, dried or cooked and in various shapes and sizes. Dogs almost always go nuts over them.
As a matter of fact, that single ingredient makes bully sticks an easily-digestible chew treat.
Why are bully sticks popular?
The reason why these sticks are popular is for their benefits. Dog owners have noticed these. Although bully sticks have a hard consistency, they remain easily digestible. The fact that they have a hard consistency makes them a long-lasting chew.
Besides, unlike durable dog toys, bully sticks won’t splinter. Plus, concerning injuries, with bully sticks, you won’t have to worry about injuries anymore. Injuries that can come from swallowing sharp splinters are impossible.
When it comes to bully sticks, you have a variety of choice. You have various shapes and thickness to choose from. This makes it fits for every dog’s size or breed.
Are bully sticks good for dogs?
What we like :
As a matter of fact, bully sticks are the best option you have for your champion chewer. Bully sticks have so many benefits that make it good for your dog. What attracts pet owners to bully sticks is the oral health benefits that they offer.
Bully sticks are pretty sturdy. They offer your dog a healthy 3 minutes of chewing. By the way, it is important to let your dog practise this behavior.
With bully sticks, your dog will get that healthy time. Even a strong chewer will take a long time chewing on these. Actually, for smaller dogs, it may even get them about a few hours or days to chew out that bully stick.
Chewing does wonders to your dog’s health. It helps clean your dog’s teeth. Meaning that that 30 minutes of chewing is great for teeth. Chewing does so due to the mechanical abrasion. The latter will help remove tartar.
Besides, behaviors such as chewing and licking release endorphins. In other words, chewing reduces anxiety and delivers loads of mental stimulation. thus, if your dog suffers phobias, distress, separation anxiety, bully sticks could help them through it.
Another plus point to add to bully sticks is that they are a natural source of taurine and protein. This would help preserve and retain your dog’s organs and muscles healthy. In other words, bully sticks are so nutritious.
Technical, bully sticks are primarily made up of approximately 80-90%, protein. Not only that, bully sticks are low in fat with around only 3%. Talking about cholesterol, yes bully sticks have a very low rate in that too.
If your dog is underweight, overweight, wants to uphold their current healthy weight, then bully sticks are for your and your dog. The fact that bully sticks are high in protein support muscle development and maintenance.
What we don’t like :
On the downside, bully sticks have an extremely high rate of calories. As a matter of fact, the mean caloric density of them is 15 kcal/inch. To put that into perspective, a small, 6-inch bully stick is around 90 calories.
In other words, this number of calories could be anywhere between 9 and 30 percent of the dog’s daily calorie required. Yet, this depends on the size of your dog. Honestly, 30% of the calorie’s daily intake is huge for a treat.
Adding to the number of calories, bully sticks recently gained some bad reputation for being contaminated with bacteria. However, any product that is ‘all-natural’ has minimal processing. In other words, harmful bacteria can still continue to be on it.
Processing means exposing the product to irradiation, baking at high heat, or using chemicals to sanitize it. The more processed the product is the safer it is from contamination.
However, those processes take away the element that everybody wants. The more processed it is the less natural it is. To put it in perspective, the reason why people like bully sticks is the fact that it is a single ingredient product and an all-natural one.
The FDA proclaimed a major recall of tons of bully sticks due to contamination with Salmonella in 2018. However, Salmonella is not the sole bacteria that has been related to bully sticks during the years.
In 2013, A study presented that out of 26 bully sticks, three were contaminated. The study resulted in that each bully stick is contaminated with a different type of bacteria. Among the bacteria that were found are Clostridium difficile, Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Escherichia coli. Those mentioned bacteria are dangerous pathogens.
But don’t worry there are several precautions to do. These would help you avoid contamination.
- Wash your hands before giving your dog bully sticks and afterwards.
- sanitize where the dog ate.
The bacteria found at the place where the dog ate can be extremely dangerous. As these bacteria may cause severe illness in old, young and immune-compromised individuals.
Are Bully Sticks Safe For Dogs?
There’s conflicting information about whether bully sticks are safe or not. Regardless of the confusion around bully sticks, the simple answer is yes. If you pick a trusted brand, there is nothing to worry about.
What is tricky in bully sticks industry is the fact that it is not regulated. Dr Donna Raditic of Nutrition and Integrative Medicine Consultants in Athens, Georgia talked about this area. This is why there is a growing concern over the potential for bacterial contamination. Especially that some brands, unfortunately, don’t cook the bully sticks correctly.
Eventually, yes bully sticks are safe but you have to make sure that:
- Your dog doesn’t have any beef sensitivities or allergies. (in this case, you better check Beef-free Bully Stick).
- Your dog won’t over chew on them. This can also potentially fracture their teeth.
There is another point you need to beware of. If bully sticks are not fully dried, they can stink. Actually, these bully stink anyways. In other words, even if you well-dried the bully sticks, they still have an unpleasant slight smell can still have.
As a matter of fact, this is what makes these sticks very appealing to your dog. So, in case you’re particularly sensitive to their smell, you might want to go for an odor-free type.
- They are all-natural.
- They are very nutritious.
- They provide your dog with their needed chew time.
- They are good for oral health.
- They provide mental stimulation.
- They might get contaminated.
- If the dog will chew on them for a long time, they may cause teeth fracture.
Frequently Asked Questions :
Why do dogs love bully sticks?
Well, first of all, bully sticks are 100% beef. Inherently, the beef fact comes with a chunk of proteins and nutrients. As we have already mentioned, bully sticks are made of the bull penis. The truth is that this meat is particularly full of flavor mainly because it was an organ. This is why dogs go nuts over them everywhere.
Are Bully Sticks Safe for Puppies?
Simply put, bully sticks are safe for puppies who can chew hard food. If your little fur baby has no problem with chewing, then he’s old enough to start munching that bully stick.
However, make sure to choose the smaller, thinner bully sticks at first. Then you can move up to larger types as your puppy gets older. during the puppy teething stage, bully sticks can be of great help. They make an amazing distraction which saves your shoes from an early death.
Yet if you are planning to use them as a training treat, don’t. bully sticks take ages to be consumed. Once you give it to your puppy it’s over. You better call the session off. Plus, your training won’t be that fruitful, your puppy will forget why is s/he is getting that treat for in the first place.
Note also that puppies tend to have a more sensitive stomach than adult dogs. So, you better take away the bully stick after 5 to 10 minutes of chew time.
How should I store my dog’s bully stick for the next chew time?
You have to dry the bully stick using a towel. Then, you better store the bully stick in a cool, dry place. That place better is out of reach of your dogs such as a high cabinet or pantry shelf. It is not really recommended to refrigerate it. Since, if you do so, the moisture could potentially attract bacteria.
Can Bully Sticks Cause a Blockage?
The risk of intestinal blockage is extremely low. Mind you that bully sticks are highly digestible. Bully sticks are broken down in the stomach moderately effortlessly.
However, when large pieces are swallowed, they may cause an obstruction in the throat. The latter will cause your dog to choke. To put it in perspective, always make sure to supervise your dog when given a bully stick. Plus, always take away the last bit before the dog consumes it.
Answering the question are bully sticks good for dogs or not will always depend on what kind of bully sticks you are getting. What brand are you going for? Not only that, you need to check the vet for any allergic reaction. Besides, it is important to note that some dogs have sensitive stomachs.
It is always recommended to check your dog. When you have your dog checked by a professional vet, you will know your dog’s body. This way you will be able to make decisions over what is good for your dog and what isn’t.
Answering the question of whether bully sticks are good or not is way complicated than you thought. It is important to note that each manufacturer makes bully sticks different.
Thus, making an overall statement would be misleading. You never know may be the bully sticks you purchased are not good. If it interests you, we have made a couple of the best bully sticks in the market. make sure you check them.
Overall, bully sticks are an amazing treat. They contain a lot of benefits that make them a better alternative for any chew toy. However, they should only be given as part of a balanced diet. Especially, that they make up a large percentage of daily calories.
Factually, bully sticks can be good from time to time. However, they are not suitable as a daily treat. You can give your dog a maximum of one or two a week. Yet, keep in your mind those calories need to be taken from somewhere else. For example, on the days you give your dog a bully stick, try to give her/him less food in the bowl.