As a dog owner, finding the right dog chews to keep your dog healthy and entertained can be difficult.
Have a bigger dog or an aggressive chewer that goes through treats in a few minutes flat? Were you recently made aware of how unhealthy and unsafe rawhides are for dogs?
If you can relate to either of these situations, then bully sticks might be the solution that you’re looking for.
Bully sticks are a long-lasting dog chew that serves multiple purposes, including satisfying your dog’s chewing instinct. If you have a dog who chews things it shouldn’t, like shoes, furniture, or other belongings, bully sticks can help you redirect their chewing to an appropriate object.
Like other chews for dogs, always make sure your dog is supervised and given fresh water when enjoying a bully stick.
Are bully sticks made with that?!
Bully sticks are a great, low-fat source of protein that comes from real meat (although the specific body part is technically considered a meat by-product).
By now you’re probably curious about what these chews are made of, right? It might sound gross, but bully sticks are made from bull penis, also referred to as bull or beef pizzle.
For true bully sticks, this beef pizzle is the only ingredient. You can find imitation bully sticks that use the name but have other ingredients. These are not real bully sticks.
Also Read: Best treats for training puppies
Are bully sticks good for your dog?
According to an excerpt from the book "Oh My Dog: How to Choose, Train, Groom, Nurture, Feed, and Care for Your New Best Friend" you should:
Speak to your vet before giving your dog any natural chew, since they can cause diarrhea and vomiting in some canines. Most experts really like bully sticks ... bully sticks provide dental benefit and are easy for your dog to digest; in fact, the longer-lasting bully sticks yield a lot of psychological satisfaction for dogs, since chewing is a pleasing behavior for them.
Bully sticks are a great source of protein and are lower in fat than other popular chews. This makes it easier to manage your dog’s weight while allowing them to chew to their heart’s content.
Another benefit is that bully sticks come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you can choose the one that’s right for your dog’s size. For example, bully sticks come in variations that can be long or short, thin or thick.
Another awesome benefit to bully sticks is that they’re a great, chemical-free chew that strengthens and cleans teeth and gums.
While your dog is chewing on a bully stick, they are removing and preventing plaque and tartar buildup, which is great for their dental health!
Compared to other chews, bully sticks are also easier to digest and there is less risk of issues like intestinal blockage that you get with unnatural chews. Of course, you still must be careful to not let your dog chew on small pieces because they are a choking hazard.
Also Read: Best hypoallergenic dog food for allergies
How are bully sticks made?
A drying process forms beef pizzle into the sticks that you see on sale for dogs to chew on. The process can vary depending on the manufacturer, but it generally goes something like this:
1. The bull pizzle is thoroughly cleaned first,
2. Next, it's hung to dry,
3 Then, smoked and slow roasted for flavor.
Some manufacturers add other ingredients, but true bully sticks are all-natural with no added ingredients or harmful chemicals used.
How long do bully sticks last?
When it comes to buying chews for dogs, two of the main questions that many owners have in mind are:
1) How long will these chews last when I give them to my dog?
Bully sticks are popular because they last much longer than other chews you find in stores that are gone in under a few minutes when you give them to your dog.
Of course, how long bully sticks last is dependent on the quality and whether you get the right size and thickness for your dog.
The right size may last for hours but if they are too small they might be gone in less than an hour.
2) If I buy them in bulk will they stay fresh?
True bully sticks made with only beef pizzle are long lasting. You can expect them to stay firm if sealed and stored correctly, with a shelf life of up to three years.
This is great news because bully sticks can be pricey, but owners can save money by buying them in larger quantities online.
Since they’re long-lasting, you can purchase them without having to worry that they’ll go stale in a couple of months.
Are bully sticks safe for dogs?
Bully sticks are healthy and easy to digest compared to other dog chews, but they have been known for occasional contamination so it’s important to research companies, manufacturers, and recalls before buying them for your dog.
While bully sticks are relatively low in fat, they do add a fair amount of extra calories to your dog’s diet and therefore shouldn’t be given to your dog in excess. Keep in mind that you dog may need additional physical activity to burn off those extra calories.
Bully sticks vs. Rawhides
Rawhides are made from the dried inner layer of cow hide.
They are marketed as long-lasting, but they tend to break down fast and become mushy (which many dogs don’t like).
Other downsides to rawhides include the fact that harmful chemicals like formaldehyde are used in their production and they can cause all sorts of problems for dogs’ digestion, like expanding in the stomach and causing blockages.
Bully sticks are a go-to alternative to rawhides since they are all-natural and aren’t made using harmful chemicals or artificial ingredients.
Since bully sticks last longer and stay firm there is less risk of choking or stomach blockage, although you still need to supervise your dog when they have them, so they don’t choke on small pieces.
It’s important to remember that any chew treat can be bad for your dog in large quantities, but when given in moderation, bully sticks are a great healthier alternative to rawhides.
Both rawhides and bully sticks are known for helping with dogs’ dental health, but bully sticks hold up much better with larger dogs and dogs who love to chew.
Also Read: How to stop aggressive behavior in dogs
Can you make homemade bully sticks?
You might be wondering if you can make bully sticks at home to avoid the high cost of buying them online or in-store.
While this sounds like a great idea at first, there are a couple things you might want to consider, like:
1. How difficult it will be to find beef pizzle for sale in its natural form, and
2. The fact that cooking bull pizzle smells horrible and you probably don’t want to do it in your home.
Because of these limitations and the fact that true bully sticks are only made with one ingredient, there aren’t many recipes for bully sticks available online.
If you do have access to beef pizzle, your best bet is to investigate how manufacturers of bully sticks do it and then try to imitate them based on information you can find about their processes.
Top Rated Bully Sticks For Aggressive Chewers
Pawstruck makes a wide variety of single ingredient bully sticks that range from 5 inches and longer and come in packs ranging from ten to 250.
Although bully sticks can be expensive, higher quantity value packs allow pet owners to enjoy savings while providing their dogs with a great, high quality chew that is long lasting.
These chews are made without artificial ingredients, hormones, or chemicals.
Pawstruck bully sticks are sourced from free range, grass fed cattle. These thick, low odor bully sticks are an all-natural way to support dogs’ dental health by preventing and removing plaque and tartar build-up as they chew.
Since the quality of bully sticks owners find online can vary, Pawstruck offers a 30-day guarantee.
If you and your dog aren’t 100% satisfied, you can get your money back.
Dogs and puppies love these bully sticks because they’re slowly oven roasted in their own juices, giving them a flavor dogs go crazy over. They are low in fat and high in protein, which is healthier than other chews on the market.
Even picky dogs love these bully sticks, and they’re easy to digest.
A 36-month shelf life means that even if you buy in bulk, these bully sticks will retain their freshness and flavor.
These bully sticks come highly recommended by satisfied dog owners.
Compared to other bully sticks, reviews suggest that the odor is not too bad with these and they don’t stain your carpets with added ingredients or coatings.
Depending on how aggressive a chewer or how big your dog is they might not last too long, but if you get the right size for your dog these Pawstruck bully sticks can keep them busy for hours.
2. Nature Gnaws
Nature Gnaws makes large bully sticks that are made from 100% natural grass-fed, free range beef. These chews are five to six inches long and come in different bag sizes ranging from three to fifty.
Dog owners who are looking for single-ingredient bully sticks for large dogs and aggressive chewers will love Nature Gnaws’ all-natural alternative to rawhide bones.
These chews have a natural beef smell that dogs love, since they’re cleaned with water instead of chemicals that make some chews odor free.
They are thoroughly inspected before being sent to customers and the bags are resealable for freshness.
Nature Gnaws are so confident in their product quality that they have a money back warranty, meaning if your dog dislikes them you won’t lose out.
Nature Gnaws bully sticks are high in protein and grain free. Dog owners love that these bully sticks are oven baked without any additional hormones, preservatives, or colors.
They are more easily digestible than rawhides and other unnatural dental chews and contain natural oils that promote healthy skin and coats.
They also help prevent plaque and tartar build-up to improve dogs’ dental health.
According to the company, these Nature Gnaws bully sticks are ideal for medium to large dogs.
While they might be a little costly, many owners say that their dogs love them, and that they won’t buy any other kind.
The only downside is that some owners might not like the smell, but just about any authentic bully stick will have at least some smell when you take them out of the packaging.
3. Best Bully Sticks
Best Bully Sticks are made with all natural, free range, grass-fed Angus beef.
One feature that dog owners love about these bully sticks is that they’re mostly odor free, so you get the benefits and taste dogs love without the beef smell!
Another thing that owners like about these is that they’re hand-inspected and USDA/FDA approved, so you can rest assured that the product is high quality.
These bully sticks are high in protein and other nutrients that contribute to a healthy diet and help maintain dental health by fighting tartar and plaque.
They don’t contain any hormones, additives, or harmful chemicals found in other dog treats and chews so you can feel confident giving them to your dog. Best Bully Sticks are 6 inches long and the only ingredient is Natural Angus Beef Pizzle.
This company makes responsibly suggests that owners only give their dogs one of their bully sticks per day.
This is because they’re high in protein, and too much additional protein in your dog’s diet can cause upset stomach and loose stools.
Although many owners’ dogs enjoy these bully sticks, some reviews say that they are not odor free. Best Bully Sticks keep dogs busy but may not agree with some dogs’ digestion.
4. Redbarn Bully Slices
Redbarn’s Bully Slices are all natural and made in the USA, two pros for dog owners who care about what they are giving their furry friends. These chews are designed to be tough and durable but tasty, so your dog will enjoy chewing on them for a long time. They come in the shape of flat sticks that are about 8 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide.
These bully slices are healthy in the sense that they’re loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, ingredients that support joint health, and antioxidants to help improve dogs’ skin and coats.
As a concerned dog owner, you can rest assured that this treat doesn’t contain any wheat, corn, soy, grains, gluten, or artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.
The issue with these bully slices is that they aren’t primarily made of beef pizzle, meaning they aren’t true bully sticks. These bully slices are made from pig’s ears with a bully stick gravy coating.
While beef ear and liver make up 90% of the ingredients, some other ingredients in these bully slices include egg whites, chicken cartilage, fructose, and caramel color.
Customer reviews of these bully sticks are mixed. While some pet owners say that their dogs love these bully sticks, others have noted that they aren’t true bully sticks.
They might be more affordable but are basically cow’s ears covered in a sticky coating (which can stain carpet, by the way).
Other things that owners dislike about these Redbarn Bully Slices are that they contain two forms of sugar and don’t last very long.
Best Bully Sticks for Dogs...Bottom Line
Bully sticks are a great, all-natural alternative to rawhides and other chews that are unhealthy and unsafe for dogs.
While bully sticks can be more expensive that other chews, dogs love them and there are bulk options online that give owners great value for their money.
The important thing when shopping for bully sticks online is to look at the ingredients, manufacturing information, and reviews.
True bully sticks are single ingredient, meaning that the only ingredient should be beef (or bull) pizzle. There should be no long ingredient lists. If this is the case, then they aren’t true bully sticks.
Imitations may be less expensive, but products with bully stick coating are messy (they can stain your carpets) and they aren’t as healthy for dogs since they might have added sugars and other questionable ingredients.
Out of the four bully sticks reviewed in this article which dogs (& puppies) absolutely love, the ones by Pawstruck stand out above the rest.
These bully sticks are single ingredient, all natural, and they seem to have the most consistent quality compared to other similar bully sticks offered.
Dog owners love these bully sticks because they’re safe, affordably priced, consistently sized, long-lasting, and their dogs love to chew on them for hours.