Look, some of us are always down for a little controversy. However, the amount of backlash that a few pets treats are seeing lately is something that dog owners all around should not ignore. Sure, you may not love the scent of rawhide or care for the way that pigs feet make your pooch’s breath smell.
Yet, it’s a whole different story when specific pet products are being held responsible for the death of dogs.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues is that, when asked, many pet owners don’t know what is in the products that they are giving their fur babies. Additionally, pet parents aren’t aware of how the products are made, let alone the chemicals and toxins involved.
There are reputable companies such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) who state that bully sticks are a safe and healthy treat for dogs.
However, there is additional information that is drawing experts to the conclusion that bully sticks may not be the wisest choice in terms of pet treats. Just because they are healthier and safer than rawhide does not necessarily make them healthy or safe, as far as some researchers are concerned.
In this article, we aren’t trying to convince you one way or the other. What we are trying to do, however, is provide you with the facts.
What is a Bully Stick?
Bully sticks are a chewable, digestible dog treat that you’ve likely seen for sale at your local pet store. They are typically dark brown in color and can come in all sizes. Bully sticks can also be braided.
Generally, they are marketed as a healthy alternative way for your pups to stop munching on things they shouldn’t have in their mouths, i.e. shoes, the television remote, etc. If you have a dog who loves to chew, it is likely that you’ve considered purchasing a product such as a bully stick.
Bully sticks are also commonly listed as a healthy alternative to other treats such as rawhide, and we are not denying that! Rawhide has the potential of being incredibly dangerous and yes, bully sticks are a healthier alternative.
But does that make them healthy? Or simply healthier than something considered dangerous. Regardless, it is imperative for pet owners to understand what exactly they are feeding their fur babies.
What Are Bully Sticks Made Of
Are you ready for this? You may want to sit down. Bully sticks are made from a dried bull penis. We’ll let that sink in for a minute…
Bull Penis / Cow Penis
YEP. You heard that correctly, bully sticks are made of the penis of a bull.
Bully sticks are considered an animal by-product. Animals by-products are any product that is not meat or muscle. Many pet owners are against giving their dogs products considered to be animal by-products due to the fact that is a lot of grey areas in terms of their production.
What is a Pizzle Stick
Pizzle sticks, bull pizzle, and beef pizzle are other ways to refer to bully sticks. Call them what you want, it’s still dried steer or bull penis.
Are Bully Sticks Safe?
The dog food industry is regulated. Before it goes on the shelves, pet foods have to meet specific safety standards. However, the pet treat industry is not regulated. This lack of regulation is what is so alarming and why it is imperative for pet owners to know where their dog treats are coming from.
Furthermore, there isn’t a plethora of information regarding bully sticks. However, we do know that in one study, of 26 bully sticks purchased, one had Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, one contained C. difficile, and seven had E. coli.
This study shows that while the chances are relatively low, there is a real potential for contamination and not just any contamination. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus MRSA, C. difficile, and E. coli are very serious strains of bacteria.
What Is That Smell?! BULLY STICKS
Chances are, if you’ve purchased a bully stick for your pup, you can skip this section of the article because you know EXACTLY what we are talking about.
For those dog owners considering purchasing a bully stick, this is a warning for you. Bully sticks STINK. Dog owners often describe the stench as smelling like urine or as like that of a dead animal. Lovely, right?
Bully Sticks: The Pros
Bully sticks aren’t all bad. First of all, it’s not new information that dogs love bully sticks. When given the opportunity to choose between your new shoes or a bully stick, your pup will probably choose the sticky pizzle stick.
Healthwise, bully sticks are packed full of amino acids. Amino acids provide necessary support for your dog’s brain, skin, muscles, and coat.
Additionally, if your dog has allergies or sensitivities, typically bully sticks do not cause any stomach upset.
Bully Sticks: Pros and Cons for Dental Health
There is a bit of controversy surrounding the health benefits of bully sticks for dental health. Some veterinarians and oral surgeons recommend bully sticks to help control tartar. However, other studies show that bully sticks can cause tooth fractures and there are much better, safer ways to control your pup’s tartar buildup.
Bully Sticks for Dogs: A Special Occasion Treat, Nothing More
If you decide that you’ve reviewed the available information and still want to give your pup a bully stick, there are a few things you’ll want to make sure to do in order to keep the treat as safe as possible.
Like all treats, pet owners should give them sparingly and as a treat, not an everyday diet addition. Also, dog owners should monitor their dogs while they are enjoying the treat. If the dog bully sticks get chewed down enough they can easily turn into a choking hazard.
Natural Dog Treats | Alternative Dog Chews
If you opt out of the bully stick craze, not to worry. There is a surplus of all-natural dog treats and alternative natural chews that isn’t your new coffee table.
For instance, whole carrots (not baby carrots) are great to chew on and provide a rich source of B vitamins, fiber, potassium, thiamine, biotin and vitamin K. Like with anything, dog owners should make sure they are buying organic whenever possible. Additionally, keeping the carrots in the fridge will ensure that they stay extra crispy for your pup.
Additionally, there’s another great company called Sam’s Yams which produces thick slabs of dehydrated sweet potato!
There are other chews such as deer antlers, crocodile bones, etc. While these may certainly be safer than rawhide, they still pose high risks of fracturing teeth and potential contamination. Bottom line, know what you’re purchasing!
All Natural Best Bully Sticks
If you decide to buy bully sticks for your dogs you’ll quickly realize that they are everywhere, from Amazon to Costco to your local pet store. As the news continues to come out regarding the dangers of rawhide, bully sticks became very popular as their healthy alternative due to the fact that bully sticks are digestible.
However, with that said, it is still very important for pet owners should make sure that they are purchasing all-natural bully sticks. Again, pet treats are not a regulated industry. Therefore, dog owners must avoid any potential dangers whenever possible, i.e. purchase all natural products like Best Bully Sticks!
Bully Sticks: The Bottom Line
As humans, most of us are pretty conscious of what we are consuming. We are aware of the benefits of healthy greens and the not-so-great effects that a triple pounder cheeseburger from the local drive-thru can have.
When we buy food at the grocery store, we can quickly determine the quality of the product that we are purchasing. However, when it comes to our dogs, information isn’t as readily available. On top of that, the fact that the pet treat industry is not regulated presents a troubling reality.
At the end of the day, if you choose bully sticks, be sure to know the risks so that you’re able to ensure your pup is enjoying the chew as safely as possible. However, if you choose to look elsewhere for a natural chew, you will, fortunately, find plenty of alternatives.