Dogs love to chew – they need to chew – it’s just what dogs do. And we, as loving pet owners, want to keep our dogs happy. So we go out and buy them chew toys. But not all dog chews are created equal. And lately, the buzz is all about bully sticks for dogs. But while growing in popularity, most people are still wondering, just what are bully sticks? What are bully sticks made of? And why do so many dogs, and dog owners, love these treats?
What Are Bully Sticks Made Of
So let’s start with what are bully sticks made of? Ready for this: bull penis! Yes, you read right, 100% pure, all-natural bull penis. And as repulsive as that first sounds, it is so much better for your dog than the traditional rawhides we give.
Pizzle sticks are 100% pure protein and made from 100% bull penises. Rawhides are the skin which is scraped of any protein before it is chemically treated and pressed. Bully bones are cleaned and dried, with no chemical treatments.
Are Bully Sticks Safe?
One of the big problems with rawhides is that they expand to about twice their size when wet and they are very difficult for any dog to actually digest. So if your dog bites off and swallows a piece that is 1 inch, after sitting in the stomach for a while, it becomes much bigger than that and can cause obstruction problems, especially in the intestines!
While bully sticks are also dehydrated, they do not swell up that much and they are 100% digestible by dogs (unlike rawhides) – they just don’t pose an obstruction problem. This makes bull pizzles an excellent treat for both big and small dogs. Now, small pieces of bully sticks can still pose a choking problem for dogs, just like a small piece of any chew or toy (see tips below on how to prevent eating the small end pieces).
Bully Sticks Origins
US or South American, primarily Brazilian, cattle are the most popular and abundant supplies of bully sticks. However, with the recent interest in bull pizzles, there have been new products from Australia, New Zealand, and even India (however India’s bully sticks are made from water buffalo pizzles, not cattle.) Most people get them from either the US or South America because of the reputation of inspection, cooking, and packaging standards in these two countries.
What To Look For In A Quality Bully Stick
Since you are going to the trouble of finding a truly dog-friendly chew, why not go a little farther and make sure the ones you are getting are of superior quality. Look for the following:
- Free-range cattle – just like organic ingredients, free-range are just better quality
- Oven controlled drying instead of sun dried – this ensures better moisture removal and keeps the pizzles from being exposed to the elements
- USDA certified and inspected – ensure the company complies with food handling standards
- Do not contain any additives, chemicals, preservatives, antibiotics, hormones or steroids. There are plenty of quality pizzles out there, and the cost is very competitive – don’t get inferior pizzles for your dog
Odor-free Bully Sticks
Some people complain about the odor of bully bones and this mainly has to do with moisture content in the bully stick. If you find you do not like the odor, you can purchase odor-free. These should not be processed with anything (some inferior companies use bleach), rather look for odor free bully sticks that are just dried longer, which means more moisture is removed from the pizzle.
Smoked Bully Bones
Some companies will smoke the bull pizzles to impart a flavoring. Most dogs like the taste of just regular dried beef pizzle, but this might be a nice change for your dog.
Braided Bully Stix
Braided bully sticks take 3 pizzles and braid them together to provide an exceptionally strong stick that is great for the very aggressive chewers. They typically come in 6 in and 12 in lengths.
Tips For Giving Bully Sticks To Your Dog
- When your dog has finished chewing, place the pizzle stick in a baggie and put it in the freezer. This will not only harden it, but will keep it fresh as well.
- Always store unused bully sticks in a closed container or zip-lock bag to keep fresh.
- As your dog chews down the pizzle, if you are worried about the possibility of choking on the small end piece, clamp something bigger onto the end, like a vise clamp.
- There is no hard fast rule as to how long it will last – for some dogs it is several hours, and other dogs several days. It depends on the aggressiveness of the chewer and the interest.
- Don’t give more than one bully stick a day to your dog – remember, they are pure protein