Are Bully Sticks Safe for Dogs?

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Pet parents love giving their fur babies treats for a whole host of different reasons.

My primary reason is I have a dog (don’t worry, buddy; I won’t name names) that likes to chew on anything and everything I don’t want him to chew on.

We seek out alternative options for our dogs who like to chew. Treats like bully sticks help to alleviate this issue.

So are bully sticks safe for dogs?

Whether it is for their dental health, training, to alleviate boredom, trick them into taking their meds, or whatever the reason, it is important to most pet parents to find a safe, natural, healthy option for their pet’s snacks.

What are Bully Sticks?

I could sit here and tell you all that bully sticks are all natural treats for you dog, and that they are made from what is considered an animal by-product. 

While those things are true, I’m not going to do that.

shaped and braided bully stick dog chews

It’s a penis, folks. Nope, that’s not a typo. Bully sticks are technically made from dried steer or bull penis.

I’ve seen it referred to as pizzle sticks, beef pizzle, beef sticks, steer sticks. and, of course, bully sticks.

I didn’t want to sugar coat it. You deserve to know the truth.  A bull penis by any other name…well, yeah, it’s still a dried bull penis.

I can’t unknow this fact.  Because of it, I can’t seem to bring myself to actually touch them. I just shake one out of the bag onto the floor for my dogs.

But dang, they sure do love em. And at the end of the day, they really are great all natural treats.

Bully sticks can come in dried, raw or cooked form and are shaped straight like a stick, braided, knotted, or twisted. 

I’ve found the braided, knotted, and twisted bully treats usually tend to last a bit longer.

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And unlike bones (or pig ears!), bully sticks don’t splinter when your dog chews on them.

Bully sticks are easily digestible dog snacks that can be given to your dog regardless of whether they are large or small breed, but you should always keep an eye on your dog when you give them a new variety of treat so that you can monitor their eating and keep an eye out for any reactions.

Who are Bully Sticks For?

Bully sticks for any dog that loves to chew, that gets lonely or bored, or for dogs that chew for destructive reasons because they feel like being a butt.

These dog treats are for any size or breed of dog. Bully sticks come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate huge dogs, tiny dogs, and everything in between.

Bully sticks are a great chew for your dog and will help a dog that can be destructive with their chewing stay occupied and distracted from chewing on your furniture.

Bully sticks should not be used in place of feeding your dog a meal.  They are intended to be a treat only.

Are These Treats Good for my Dog’s Teeth?

Bully sticks are not only a treat that your dog will enjoy, but they will also help keep your dog’s teeth clean.

Many of you are familiar with Greenies dog treats which are designed and marketed as a dental cleaning dog treat.  The bully sticks work to clean your dog’s teeth in much the same way.

toothbrush for dogs because clean teeth is important for dog's dental health

As your dog chews on their bully sticks, they act like a toothbrush of sorts and scrap away the food and tarter on the tooth’s surface. Your dog’s dental health is very important, and serious issues could occur if neglected.

Bully sticks are a hard treat, so be careful that your dog’s teeth do not crack while they are eating them.

Like anything else you you give your dog, you’ll need to keep an eye on your pet to make sure they aren’t having any ill effects.

Are Bully Treats Safe for dogs?

Yes!  Bully sticks are all natural, so they are safe for your dogs, including your young pup!

There are a wide range of variations available in this dog treat, so it’s important to pick a brand you trust. 

In addition to different sizes and shapes, they are available in different flavor and come in cooked, smoked, and raw varieties.

They are safe for any stage of life, breed, or size of dog because they come in different sizes to accommodate different sized dogs.  They are available in puppy size all the way to jumbo.

They are a hard, tough chew treat that will break down easily in your dog’s digestive system.

Bully sticks are not made with any chemicals to help in the drying process, meaning they are an all natural snack for your dog, unlike many brands of rawhide. 

However, there are some imported brands that have been treated with bleach. We don’t want to feed that kind to our pets. Read your labels!

Are Bully Sticks Safe for Puppies?

tiny bully sticks for tiny puppies

Yes, you can give bully sticks to puppies. They are a great alternative to rawhide chews for young pups.

Just remember that any very young puppies under six months of age should not be given ANY type of hard treat due to the fact that their teeth aren’t permanent. Hard treats can cause damage to their little mouths.

And while they are a safe, healthy treat for puppies over six months, they don’t make a good training treat. 

They are very hard and take a while to break down.

Try a smaller, easier to chew alternatives to use for dog training and obedience incentives such as these bite-sized training dog treats.

Are Bully Sticks Safe for Older Dogs?

When it comes to giving bully sticks to your senior dogs, you’ll want to make sure that their teeth are still sufficient to handle being able to chew the treat. 

These are tough pieces of meat.

Problems with Bully Sticks

While bully sticks absolutely help aid in cleaning your dog’s teeth, if you are hoping that they will help freshen your dog’s breath as well, you are out of luck. 

One of the main complaints I’ve heard about this treat is that bully sticks have an odor.  They can start to develop an unpleasant smell as your dog chews.

Because they are a raw, natural treat, there aren’t any  added chemicals to help control the smell. For a lot of dogs, they smell in other ways once the treat is digested, too, especially if your dog is rather gassy.

The odor of the treat varies with each manufacturer, depending on the drying process. The longer they dry, the lower the chance of the treat developing an odor.

Do Bully Sticks Cause Diarrhea?

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), “some dogs may experience gastrointestinal upset after consuming bully sticks, including diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.”

The Veterinary Medicine and Surgery journal also states that “bully sticks may be a risk factor for pancreatitis in dogs.”

Also, Merck Veterinary Manual states that “ingestion of large quantities of bully sticks can lead to gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs.”

To Sum it All Up…

Raw Paws Bully Sticks are a Superior Alternative to Rawhide

Bully sticks make an excellent alternative to rawhide treats to curb your dog’s chewing habits.

Since bully sticks are all natural and are made from a bull’s pizzle (penis), they are made from meat and muscle. That means there are several calories in each stick.

You should limit the amount of these treats you hand out so that your dog doesn’t gain too much weight. If your dog is already overweight, you will definitely want to reduce the number of these treats you give them.

Also worth noting, your dog cannot sustain themselves on bully sticks alone. They are a treat, not a meal replacement.

It’s my opinion that one of the best brands of bully sticks are from the Raw Paws brand. They dry theirs longer so that they have less chance of having an odor.

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