Are Bully Sticks Safe for Puppies?

Bully sticks are a relatively new treat option that has captured the attention of dog owners around the world. They're viewed as a healthier alternative to traditional rawhides and bones.

As a result, many people who own puppies have started to gravitate towards these treats for their young canines.

Puppies need to be entertained and busy throughout the day to stave off bad behavior. Chew toys and treats an essential tool that can keep your pup busy during the dreaded teething phase. 

While adult dogs and their owners love bully sticks, are they any good for young puppies?

puppy with a bully stick

What is a Bully Stick?

One popular misconception is that bully sticks are made out of pure beef muscle. In reality, they're actually made out of beef tendon. More specifically, bull penis. This fact is very rarely advertised on the packages you see at your local pet store.

Bull penis is actually a meat byproduct, which is considered to be meat waste that's not fit for human consumption. Typically, it's advised that you avoid meat byproducts, especially when you're feeding a young pup with a developing immune system. However, bully sticks are the exception.

This is because bully sticks are natural and don't contain any unwanted extras. The bull penis is cleaned, dried, and slowly roasted over a long period of time. This unique cooking process preserves the treat while keeping most of its nutrients intact.

Bully sticks are sold in sticks in varying sizes. Some are also braised or curled.

Are They Safe for Puppies?

Generally, bully sticks are a very safe treat for puppies. As long as you take the proper safety precautions, your rambunctious puppy shouldn't have any issues chewing on these treats. You see, bully sticks come with a lot of great benefits that surpass what your pup would experience with a typical rawhide.

The biggest is its digestibility. Bully sticks are a lot less risky when compared to rawhides. Rawhides tend to splinter, causing injuries inside your dog's mouth. Large pieces may even disrupt the digestion process, causing painful blockages.

While that risk is still present with bully sticks, it's a lot lower. Bully sticks are softer and easier to break up.

Furthermore, bully sticks don't contain any additional ingredients. Many rawhides are whitened, covered in flavor additives, and preserved with chemicals. You don't have to worry about all of that with a bully stick. For this reason, these treats are ideal for puppies. 

High Protein Treat

dog chewing on a healthy bully stick

Your puppy's body isn't used to digesting processed ingredients just yet. Natural treats can help minimize stomach problems in the long run.

When it comes to health bully sticks also offer a lot more protein than the alternatives. Puppies naturally need more protein than adult dogs, so providing them with a high-protein treat can actually help with their muscle development.

They're also full of beneficial amino acids, which can help vital nutrients flow into the cells where they can be used.

Potential Concerns

No dog treat is perfect. Despite all the praise bully sticks get, there are some important downsides to keep in mind before you decide to spoil your pup. The first is the high-calorie content.

Usually, puppies can't get enough to eat. They require a significant number of calories each day in relation to their weight. However, many owners make the mistake of not taking treats into account when planning a puppy's diet.

Bully sticks can have up to 22 calories per inch. If you feed too much of this treat to your puppy, they run the risk of gaining weight and developing skeletal problems later on in life.

Another thing you need to be wary of is bacteria. Generally speaking, manufacturers do a pretty good job of keeping bacteria out of treats. However, unlike the dog food industry, the dog treat industry is not regulated.

Many tests and studies have found that there are bacteria-ridden bully sticks on the market. The types of bacteria these sticks could potentially harbor are very dangerous to humans and puppies. Always stick to a reputable manufacturer and wash your hands after touching the treat to stay safe.

How to Feed Your Puppy a Bully Stick

If you have decided to give bully sticks a try, you're going to need to introduce the treat to your puppy slowly. It's also important that you find a product that's right for your puppy.

Getting the Right Size

Like all treats and hard food, there is a risk of choking. You need to make sure that your dog can chew on the stick safely and not guzzle it down within a few minutes. With the treat's strong odor and powerful flavor, your puppy will be very tempted to do so. 

At the very least, the stick should be longer than your dog's muzzle. This way, if they should attempt to swallow it, the stick won't slide down their throat before you can grab it.

Start Off Slow

Once you have the right size, give the stick to your dog and let them go at it for up to 10 minutes. This plenty of time for them to soften the end and get a taste of the stick.

After 10 minutes, take the stick away. You don't want to give your dog too much at one time. It's a new food that your young puppy isn't used to. While these treats are known for easy digestibility, the sudden influx of protein may cause some discomfort for your furry pal at first.

Simply dry the treat off with a paper towel and place it in your freezer. It will stay safe and bacteria-free in the freezer. The cold temperature will also harden any bits that your puppy softened while chewing.

Alternatively, you can put it in an airtight container or bag once it's completely dry. You don't want to leave it out, as bacteria can start to grow.

Give your puppy a day to see how their stomach responds. If it's all clear, you can gradually increase how long they eat the stick until they can consume the full piece.

Watch Your Puppy

You should never leave your puppy alone to chew on a treat unsupervised. Puppies are very accident-prone. They could chew off a piece and choke on it. You need to be there to respond.

If you notice your dog doing something that's potentially dangerous, you can take the treat away. Be in the same room so that you can actively listen to your puppy chow down on the bully stick.

Knowing When to Stop

Chances are, your puppy has not yet learned their limitations in terms of eating. So, you'll need to show them. When the bully stick gets to about 2 or 3 inches in length, you must take the remaining piece away.

At this size, the stick becomes a choking hazard. Many owners use a clip to mark where the puppy needs to stop. You can then throw the small piece out.

Conclusion

Exercise caution and always keep a watchful eye on your puppy if you give them a bully stick. If you're careful, the all-natural treat is great for young dogs. They'll enjoy the flavor, stay entertained, and develop those strong jaw muscles while they chew.

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