What Is A Bully Stick?

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.

All Meat

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?

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6 Responses to “What Is A Bully Stick?”

  1. MMc 30. May, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    I haven’t tried them but my dogs have! Bully sticks are about the only non-nylon chew toy I allow my dogs to chew on. My dogs have never gotten sick on one. The only problem I have is finding one that starts out large enough that I can let the dogs chew on them for a long period of time.

  2. Jan 31. May, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Scooter LOVES these! I do not give him the white or pressed rawhides anymore – they seem to get way too messy and he always gets one stuck at the back of his throat when he is trying to chew on it – the curly bull sticks are the best – he does not seem to try to bite a huge chunk off and swallow them in large pieces and the “curls” make him chew around it – taking his time. They are a bit “aromatic” when he is eating them…

  3. Amy@GoPetFriendly 01. Jun, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    They do gross me out a little bit. I always have this funny feeling that I would like to be wearing latex gloves when I touch them. And they do smell pretty bad when the dogs are chewing on them.

    On the other hand, the dogs love them and I’m happy to know that they’re safer for them to eat. Looks like we’ll be converting over from pressed rawhides.

  4. Elizabeth Deitz 02. Jun, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Lol! Glad to hear that! What kind of dogs do you have? Heavy chewers? Have you ever tried The Galileo bone by Nylabone. Oddly shaped, but my guys love them and they are nearly indestructible.

  5. cyndi 03. Jun, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Logan wont chew on anything that isnt real food – so even antlers, flavored nylabones, etc he has no interest in. He LOVES bully sticks, they are his most favorite chewy and I usually get the econo bag at costco. They do stink and I’ve heard of digestive issues if you give them too often (maybe too rich?) but for the expense he gets maybe a couple each week.

  6. Elizabeth Deitz 03. Jun, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Don’t tell him what they really are Cyndi – Logan is such a gentlemen, I think he’d give them up! I offered one to me boy once, and though he doesn’t usually dig and hide things, he promptly went over to the couch, dug around in the pillows, and covered it up. I think he was hiding it to enjoy later when no one was around.

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