Are Bully Sticks Safe for Dogs?

Before I explain what a Bully Stick actually is (you might be surprised!), let me first address the “why” of Bully Sticks.

Dogs can, at times, be a pain in the backside. Dogs – especially those dogs who normally get a lot of attention – tend to get very bored when you are away or simply busy with other things. Their first instinct, when bored, is to chew on (perhaps destroy?) something. It keeps them busy.

You really don't want your favorite shoes or your new sofa to be the object of the chewing, right?

The remedy for most owners is to simply buy a lot of chew toys and give one to their dog when he or she gets bored. The longer lasting, and the “chewier” (and tastier) – the toy, the better.

I'm sure you've seen Bully Sticks for sale at your favorite local or online and are been told that dogs absolutely love them. After the next paragraph, hopefully you'll understand why.

What are Bully Sticks made from?

I'll just come out and say it. Bully Sticks – sometimes called or Steer sticks – are made from… , steer, or penises.

Yep. Bully Sticks are a digestible dog treat made from a very unusual bovine by-product.

Because of what they are “made” from, Bully Sticks are by their very nature long-lasting chews – somewhat similar to rawhide. Apparently dogs find them quite tasty, which makes them an ideal treat to keep your pooch occupied for a fairly long time.

The sticks are available in raw, cooked, or dried form; and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some are even flavored.

But, are Bully Sticks actually safe for dogs?

Since Bully Sticks are not regulated by an “FDA for pets”, it's possible for the sticks to be contaminated by bad bacteria if not prepared properly.

Since the sticks are dry and hard, it's difficult for a pet owner to know if they were cooked long enough to guarantee safeness. They need to be thoroughly cooked to kill any parasites or dangerous micro-organism before they are eventually dried and packaged.

Also, rigorous cooking limits the bad smell some have reported.

If they are dried too long they become very brittle, so it is possible for a dog to fracture a tooth when chewing on the stick. However, this same issue exists for other cattle by-products like hooves, bones, rawhides, and so on.

Finally, an improperly sized Bully Stick can be a choking hazard for your dog. The best strategy to use here is to give your dog one of these treats and observe his or her behavior. If your dog tries to swallow large pieces, it might not be the best treat for your pup.

Bully Sticks do have positive benefits.

bully stickAs mentioned above, Bully Sticks will keep your dog occupied for an extended period of time. This can provide you with some peace of mind, knowing that your home or apartment won't be destroyed when you return.

Bully Sticks are also better digested than other animal by-products like hooves, rawhides, or pig ears. They break down quickly in the stomach and don't cause swelling like rawhides can.

(We had an awful experience with one of our dogs who had a piece of rawhide swell up in her throat, causing breathing difficulties. We had to rush her to the vet to get it removed).

Many dog owners also appreciate that the sticks tend to remove excess tarter from their dog's teeth as they are chewed. In this sense, they are a “natural ”. Also, being mostly protein, they do not contribute to plaque buildup as they are chewed.

Purchasing Bully Sticks

Bully Sticks are available in most physical or online Pet Stores, as well as some “bog box” grocery outlets. You should be able to find them easily.

You'll want to size the Bully Stick properly. If your dog is large and has strong jaws, you might look for more complex shapes like the braided or curly sticks. If the dog can too easily chew the stick, it will disappear much more quickly.

For smaller dogs a pencil thin stick can work quite well. They are usually not strong chewers, and many smaller breeds like to “gum” the sticks rather than hard chewing.

Don't skimp on price. The more expensive Bully Sticks tend to be prepared better and are in general safe for your pooch.

Does your dog love to chew on Bully Sticks? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.

Until next time…

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