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What Are Bully Sticks Made From? Benefits & Risks

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Dogster Team

bully sticks for dogs wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine

What Are Bully Sticks Made From? Benefits & Risks

Bully sticks are healthy beef treats that most dogs absolutely love. And yes, they’re technically baked, smoked, or dried bull penises, although it’s also possible to find freeze-dried raw options. Bully sticks are easy to digest and available in various sizes and shapes. Bigger braided options are great for large breeds, and single sticks are just the right size for small pets.

All provide a nice chewy treat that benefits your pet’s dental health. The thick consistency gives dogs a nice surface to bite into, which removes plaque to keep your buddy’s teeth healthy between professional cleanings. And these treats sometimes help lower canine anxiety as chewing often helps dogs soothe themselves.

Bully sticks provide a safe alternative to bones, and since they’re made of muscle, there’s no splintering potential to worry about! They’re full of amino acids essential for canine skin, brain, coat, and muscle health. If your dog has allergies, bully sticks are a great choice since they only contain a single source of protein. Even puppies can get in on the action as long as they’re old enough to eat solid food.

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How are Bully Sticks Made?

These canine favorites are made from bull penises which pet treat manufacturers source from slaughterhouses. Most also purchase cow ears and tails that ultimately end up as dog treats. First, the fat is removed from the penis, and then it’s cut in half to get rid of any remaining blood and urine. The product is washed for several hours, after which it’s cooked or freeze-dried. The muscle is often stretched and twisted before baking or smoking to create larger bully sticks.

They’re wonderfully healthy snacks but packed full of calories, so make sure to limit your pet’s consumption of them. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your pet’s diet, or they may end up getting too many calories, resulting in obesity. Anywhere from 25–20% of dogs in the United States are obese, which puts them at risk for developing conditions such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and even bladder stones. Dogs that maintain healthy weights tend to live longer than those carrying extra pounds.

man arranging large sized bully sticks
Image By: Dmitriev Mikhail, Shutterstock

How Long Do Bully Sticks Last?

The longevity of bully sticks depends on the size of your dog! Small dogs can spend a week working on one stick, which is totally fine since these healthy treats don’t go bad. Larger dogs often dispense with even super-sized sticks in one or two sittings. Always supervise your pet when they’re enjoying a good chew session since it is possible for your dog to choke if it swallows a large piece. And make sure to get the right size so your dog can get the most out of their chewing experience! When properly packaged and untouched, bully sticks can stay fresh for up to 2 years.

Are Bully Sticks Safe?

Bully sticks sometimes contain bacteria that can be harmful to you and your pet. Wash your hands well after handling these treats to prevent the transmission of any bacteria. Always purchase bully sticks from a reputable manufacturer that provides clear and transparent sourcing information about their products. Opt for a baked, dried, or irradiated product if bacteria is a specific concern for you or if you live with anyone with compromised immunity.

You can give gnawed-on snacks a good wipe down with a towel or let them air dry after your pet is done with their daily dose of chewing. Store the treat in an airtight container somewhere cool, dark, dry, and out of your dog’s reach.

Dogs of all ages should always be supervised while playing with any chew toy, including bully sticks. You can buy sticks that are larger than your dog’s mouth to ensure they can’t swallow the treat whole, which can lead to a bowel obstruction.

Take the treat away once it becomes small enough for your pet to inhale or gobble down all at once, and don’t let your dog have access to any small chunks they may manage to bite off. It’s best to limit your dog’s bully stick time to around 10 minutes daily. Since they’re loaded with protein and calories, bully sticks can lead to weight gain if you give your dog too many.

bully sticks in a cardboard box
Image By: Dmitriev Mikhail, Shutterstock


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In Conclusion

Most dogs love bully sticks. The treats are pure protein and packed full of healthy nutrients such as calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids that are important for your dog’s overall health. They also contain several essential amino acids your pet needs to maintain optimal coat health and skin condition. Bully sticks are high in calories, so keep an eye on how much your dog consumes. And try to limit your pet’s treats to around 10% of what they eat to ensure they maintain a healthy weight.

Featured Image Credit: Dmitriev Mikhail, Shutterstock

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