Beef bully sticks are one of the most popular dog’s treats around.  They are essentially the meat version of a stick (without the splinters) – but do they cause any specific health issues during their eating?

Before we explore this question, you might consider how under-utilised dog jaws and teeth lead to poor outcomes for many dogs. If a dog can’t manage a big bully stick or beef pizzle, then there are smaller ones they can chew.  Unfortunately, so many owners are programmed to thinking that only a grain or vegetable gum-based dog treat glued together and super easy to eat, because they essentially fall apart, are the only options that their dog can safely eat.  This isn’t so.  Enter the bully stick.

What are bully sticks made of?

I could say sugar and spice and all things nice, but that would be talking about fake grain-based treats on the market.  The true bully stick is just the dried penis of the animal that it is made from. Bulls are the primary animal part used, but they can also be sheep, pigs or goat penis – also confusingly called bully sticks.  Sometimes just pizzles.

They should just be dried as a straight stick like structure, but some creative types mould them around poles so that they are curly or braided.  That will add girth to the stick, taking linger for a dog to eat, but since bully sticks tend to be quite expensive in the first place, adding more of the raw material to a single treat, will only make each single sitting of that treat more expensive.

What are bully sticks made for?

A preoccupier treat is the simple answer.  Buying a stick slightly harder and longer chewing than a dog can easily eat, will prolong the enjoyment, and stop the dog being bored for longer.

What about choking issues and digestive issues?

This is the major issue that companies NOT selling bully sticks like to write about.

The choking hazard thing is only a thing, if your dog doesn’t chew.  That is, it is very different from cheap real hazard treats like imported rawhide products.  These are little more than pieces of leather glued together with suspect chemicals.

Dogs can choke on kibble (ie bloat), on clumps of grass they find in the back yard, basically anything.  Sometimes it’s a breed related thing, sometimes it’s a food guarding thing, sometimes its just a highly excited dog kind of thing.  But that is why bully sticks are here to the rescue.

Bully sticks are SINGLE INGREDIENT long dried muscle dog treats.

That means that they have striations and natural strength along the length of the stick. As you might imagine, this part of the animal was not evolved to break off easily.  And hence the joy of it for dogs.

This means that bully sticks have to be typically eaten from one end to the other. And they are so strong (as long as you bought the right size bigger than your dog can easily chomp) so that the only way to eat them is the saliva of the dog softens pieces of the meat on the end, that they can nibble off.

The choking hazard issue typically assumes that a treat is more than a mouthful that they can’t break down further.  The vast majority of dogs are so eager to eat the bully stick, that as soon as a morsel of meat softens enough, they break It off and swallow it immediately.  This means small pieces will be chipped or dragged off, not large pieces that will get lodged.

We mentioned earlier that rawhide treats have given many treats a bad name, this is because they are the healthy opposite of bully sticks. Rawhide has the inherent issue that they are a ‘many piece treat’ that easily falls apart, but doesn’t dissolve in a dog’s stomach, like actual meat will.  Both the big chunk nature, and the pieces that do fall off not digesting can lead to a blockage that will require vet assistance.

SUMMARY

Bully sticks on the other hand are just MEAT, like all of the good dog treats on sale, not leather.  And since meat is what dogs really need more of in their diet, not less, bully sticks are pretty much made of the exact thing that dogs are supposed to eat to be healthy.  Hence unless your dog is allergic to the meat type (ie the animal they come from) – they should NOT have any digestive issues.

If you are concerned you can check with your vet – but always supervise your dog eating a treat for the first few times to ensure you know that they know how to chew!

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