Bully Sticks (or pizzles) are a treat for some debate. Most consumers don’t know the origins, how they are made and the amount of calories they posses.
Bully Sticks are often dehydrated raw – bull, steer or even veal (baby cow) penises (Ewww! for us, but often dogs love them). For those familiar with by-products, bully sticks are technically a by-product of beef. Although with the label as by-product, there can be different grades (quality) or additives to any product which can effect your pet. For example products from China can be of poor-quality and can often spell trouble for our pets, whereas some products from Canadian or American inspected facilities often have higher quality, and less harmful additives in the bully sticks. For best results, read the labels and ask the manufacturer if the product was “made” in Canada or the U.S.A, as products can be “packaged” or “assembled” in Canada and the U.S.A. and may be a very different product then expected.
Bully Sticks by nature are calorie dense, meaning a 6 inch bully stick can contain more than 88 calories. The recommended amount of calories in treats per day should amount to about 10% of the diet. Meaning if needed you can provide the bully stick for short durations 10-20 minutes for a nice treat for your dog if there are concerns about gaining weight or is already overweight. Caloric information can sometimes be found on the manufacturers website, or you can send an inquiry as to the calories directly to the company.
As with any treat made from one meat ingredient (ex. beef, duck, elk, pig, lamb etc.) it is best to ere on the side of caution with cleanliness. Meaning you should wash your hands and general area (any surface the treat has come into contact with: counters, floor, dish etc.) after handling any such treat to stop the spread of diseases and infection. As well as limiting the exposure to children, the immune-compromised and pregnant women. With any chew there should also be supervision to ensure the dog is chewing on it appropriately. As there is a danger to dogs if they try to swallow a large piece of the bully stick, or the bully stick becoming lodged in the mouth.
From my experience with bully sticks I have had no issues with any bacteria associated with them, as I try to maintain a very clean area when coming into contact with any such treats. My dogs love them, and a twelve inch bully stick will last my German Shepherd Mix a month or two (He’s a very light chewer, maybe a few nibbles a day on it). And if needed you can freeze the bully stick to rid of most of the bacteria and to also strengthen it as a chew. All in all bully sticks are a great healthy alternative to over-processed treats (rawhide for example), and the added benefit of the abrasion against the teeth will also help with plaque and tartar control and removal.