Bully sticks, those long-lasting, chewy treats have wagged their way into the hearts (and mouths!) of dogs all around. They’re like the canine version of a favourite comfort food, yet not without a side of controversy. 

Some folks rave about them, touting them as a miracle for dental health and a godsend for keeping your pup entertained. Others raise eyebrows, whispering about hidden dangers and nutritional no-nos. 

So, what’s the real deal with these popular chews? Let’s fetch the facts and chew over the details.

Composition and Nutrition

First off, what exactly are bully sticks? Well, they’re made from bull penises. Yep, you read that right. These treats are a type of “pizzle,” which is just a fancier (and less blush-inducing) term for the dried, cleaned, and stretched private parts of a bull. 

Now, before you squirm, remember that in the wild, dogs aren’t exactly picky eaters. For them, bully sticks are just another part of the natural smorgasbord.

Nutritionally, bully sticks are pretty protein-packed. They’re mostly made up of muscle, meaning they’re loaded with amino acids essential for your furry friend’s muscle development and overall health. Plus, they’re low in fat, which is great news for those pooches watching their waistlines.

But let’s not forget, while they’re munching away, your pup is also gobbling down calories. Depending on the size of the stick, that could be quite a few. For tiny tots or dogs on a strict diet, this could be a bit of a hiccup. It’s like indulging in a sneaky midnight snack – okay once in a while, but you wouldn’t want to make a habit of it.


Now, onto the good part. Bully sticks aren’t just about keeping your dog busy while you’re binge-watching your favourite series. They’ve got some genuine health benefits. For starters, they’re fantastic for your dog’s teeth – far too few pet owners brush their dog’s teeth, and any help in this area is a good idea. All that gnawing and chewing helps scrape away plaque and tartar, kind of like a natural toothbrush for your dog.

Then there’s the boredom buster aspect. Dogs, especially high-energy breeds such as Border Collies and Chihuahuas, need stimulation, and bully sticks provide just that. It’s chew, chew, and more chew, which is a great way to keep those jaws busy and minds engaged.

Risks and Concerns

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are some areas of concern too. Choking hazards top the list. Especially with powerful chewers such as Neopolitan Mastiffs and Labradors, bits can break off, and if they’re not the right size, they could get stuck in your dog’s throat or intestines. 

While most dogs with powerful enough jaws to break a bully stick are bigger and can handle larger pieces, don’t discount the efforts of a sufficiently determined smaller dog. 

Then there’s the calorie conundrum. As we hinted earlier, these sticks are not exactly diet-friendly. If you’re not careful, those extra calories can sneak up, leading to an unintentional pooch paunch.

And we can’t turn our noses up at the ick factor – bacteria. Some studies have wagged a finger at bully sticks, showing they can harbour some nasty bugs. Salmonella and E. coli are two prime suspects so it’s super important to handle these treats with care unless you fancy a side of antibiotics with your vet bill.

Expert Opinions

But hey, don’t just take it from us. The pros have their say too. Many veterinarians give bully sticks a cautious thumbs up. They’re fans of the dental benefits and the mental stimulation. However, their main message is about supervision. Watching your dog while they’re chewing is key to preventing those scary choking incidents.

Canine nutritionists chime in too, agreeing with protein perks but raising eyebrows at the calorie count. Their advice? Make sure bully sticks are just a treat, not the main course. And always, always check in with your vet, especially if your dog has dietary restrictions or health concerns.


So, what if bully sticks just don’t sit right with you? Fear not, the treat aisle is full of options. Think about things like dental chews, specially designed to keep those pearly whites, well, pearly. 

For the more health-conscious dog owners, there are plenty of veggie-based chews that are low in calories and high in fibre.

But remember, every dog is unique. What sends one dog into tail-wagging ecstasy might make another turn up their nose. So, it’s all about knowing your dog, understanding their needs, and maybe a bit of good old trial and error.


In the great debate of whether to chew or not to chew, bully sticks have their place. They’re a protein-packed, dental health-boosting option that can keep your dog entertained for hours. But like any treat, they come with their own set of cautionary tales. Calorie counts, choking hazards, and cleanliness are all part of the package.

Remember, your dog’s health and happiness are what’s really at stake here. So, weigh the pros and cons, chat with your vet, and keep a close eye on your furry friend while they’re enjoying their chew. After all, a well-chosen treat can turn an ordinary day into a tail-wagging adventure!