Finding a special treat for your dog can be a confusing quest at times. And if you have a heavy chewer it is even more problematical because they can destroy or finish the object of desire so quickly. My dogs have a few favorites, none that last very long. But over and over again people have recommended “bully sticks” to me, saying that their dogs love them, can’t get enough, etc.
So during my last visit to a big box pet store I started poking around and looking at the labeling on these “bully sticks.” For the most part, the labels really told me nothing. It was rife with advertising jargon like “the taste dogs crave,” “low in fat,” “safer than rawhide,” “enhanced for added flavor.” You get the drift.
Really? They’re What?
It turns out that bully sticks(or steer steaks, pizzle sticks or beef sticks) are just bull penises. They generally don’t look the part because they are dried, twisted or even braided. Some manufacturers call them tendons or muscles. We feed all kinds of animal parts to our dogs so I guess this really shouldn’t be cause for alarm. But still…
Are there advantages?
There are a number of advantages to using bully sticks over rawhide. Rawhide is easy to break off into small chunks which can cause obstructions. They can cause choking as well. Bully sticks are more difficult to break off into small chunky, choking hazards especially if you buy one of the thicker ones. As always though it is prudent to take it away when it becomes small enough to be swallowed whole. And truly, if you have lived with a heavy and committed chewer then you already know that almost anything, can be a choking hazard!
Because they are pure meat they are relatively easy for your dog to digest. And some can be found without pesticides, or dyes or other harmful chemicals. Rawhide has to go through some pretty harsh chemical treatments to remove all the hair, and this can involve formaldehyde and arsenic.
The biggest advantage seems to be that they are more easily digestible. Whereas rawhide and pig’s ears are skin, and difficult to digest, bully sticks are pure meat.
So if you have tried them, what do you think? Are they worth the worry? Are they worth the gross-out factor?