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How often to give your dog a bully stick?

A bully stick is a popular treat for dogs. They come in a variety of sizes and are made from the muscle of a bull. That muscle is called a pizzle and is a bull penis.  If you can get past that, the stick itself is pure beef, high on protein and low on fat.

These treats have become more popular recently and many animal health experts say they are good for your dog, as well as fun for the dog. There are some issues for some dogs, and some potential downsides you should be aware of. Generally speaking, these are great treats for dogs that love meat. They are also natural products, which is also a good thing for your dog.

How often to give your dog a bully stick?

The operative word here is “treat.” This should imply that it is something not given regularly, and it should not be a substitute for a regular meal for a dog. Depending on the size of your dog, the stick could last for several days or just an hour or two.  Veterinarians recommend giving your dog a bully stick two or three times a week, but certainly no more than once a day. 

There are some health benefits for your dog. The sticks promote good dental health and are nutritious without being laden with a lot of fat.  Some dogs are aggressive chewers and will go through a stick in an hour or two. Other dogs are less aggressive, and a stick may last a day or more. There are also different sizes for different-sized dogs.  You could in theory give a small dog one that is made for a big dog, and that would likely last several days.

While bully sticks should not replace normal meals, they can be used to keep your dog from eating so much, which can help if the dog is overweight.

There are a lot of opinions as to how often to give treats to your dog. There are also benefits to a bully stick, as well as some disadvantages. If you give your dog one every day, he will start to expect to have one, which can create more problems. 

Some chewy treats are not good for puppies because they can get choked, they can cause stomach blockages and other issues. A bully stick has none of these drawbacks, so it is fine for puppies as well. Vets recommend not letting puppies chew on them as long as adult dogs, because their teeth are still developing.

Once per day should be the maximum, and ideally only two or three times a week. Use your own judgment, but be careful not to over-treat your dog.

How long should a dog chew a bully stick?

You should supervise a puppy when giving it a bully stick. Don’t let them chew on it for more than 10 minutes at a time.  Puppies are still developing their teeth, and too much chewing on a bully stick can damage their young teeth, or cause their teeth to not develop properly. These treats are safe for puppies though. It is a good idea to supervise the chewing and limit the time to 10-15 minutes at a time for dogs that are still growing.

Veterinarians recommend letting your adult dog chew on the stick for a longer time, but not indefinitely. When the stick gets small it can become a choking hazard, so as long as the stick is big enough, it is safe for your dog to chew for a long time. A lot depends on the individual dog and the size of the stick itself. For adult dogs, you may want to limit the time if the dog gets to where she is not doing anything other than chew on the stick. 

Some recommend letting adult dogs have one good chewing session per day. This could be an hour or even longer, depending on how fast your dog goes through the bully stick.  A lot depends on your dog and its situation. It is probably a good idea to limit the time in some way, even for adult dogs. Some dogs will get obsessive and not do anything else but chew on that stick, and that can be an issue. But as dogs grow and become adult dogs, you can let them chew on the stick much longer.

Is it OK to give my dog a bully stick every day?

For most dogs, yes, it is OK to give your dog a bully stick every day. Whether you should is another matter. A lot depends on the individual dog and the size of the stick you give it. There are also different styles, and different ways they are put together, that can make them last a longer or shorter time.  There are sticks that are essentially a puzzle for your dog to figure out how to get to the stick or all of the stick.

It may come down to how much you want to pamper or spoil your pet. As long as it does not interfere with their normal eating, you should be able to give your dog as many sticks as you want. Even so, vets recommend no more than once per day. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.

The stick is designed to be a treat, meaning not something that happens all the time. You don’t want your dog to get to where he expects the stick, and find that the dog bugs you for it when you don’t give him one. While veterinarians and dog experts say every few days is better, they agree that one per day should not be a problem for most dogs.

It is not good to give them more than one a day because they need to eat their regular food, and not get too obsessed with chewing on bully sticks.  They are basically a good thing but don’t do it to the point that it is no longer a good thing for your dog.

Are bully sticks good or bad for dogs?

There are a lot of health benefits to a bully stick for dogs. But like anything that is popular, there will be detractors. There are a few concerns that are legitimate, but the American Kennel Club feels the good outweighs the bad for most dogs.

Bully sticks are an all-natural beef product. Dogs are meat-eaters, so a stick of almost pure protein that is meat-based would be excellent for most dogs.

There can be some drawbacks for some dogs in some situations. Take into account your individual dog and act accordingly. The disadvantages seem to affect dogs with other conditions or pre-existing conditions than dogs without other conditions. 

The benefits of a bully stick

  • Dental health is one of the best health benefits there is in a bully stick for your dog. The tough material helps clean your dog’s teeth, stopping plaque before it has a chance to start. Chewing rough material like this promotes gum health as well as tooth health.
  • They release endorphins, a brain chemical that is good for your dog’s mental health.
  • High in protein, 90 percent, and low in fat make them a healthy snack.
  • They are easily digestible and healthy as a natural product.
  • Bully sticks are high in calories, which can be good or bad depending on your dog’s condition.
  • Bully Sticks will keep your dog occupied for a long time, and that is good for their overall well-being as well.

Disadvantages of a bully stick

  • They can be a choking hazard if you allow the dog to chew it down to a very small size. This is easily remedied by removing it when it gets to a small enough size.
  • There is a risk of bacterial infection, but dogs have a strong stomach and can handle a lot of bacteria.  While it is a concern, it should not trouble most dogs. You should wash your hands after handling a bully stick. The bacteria could affect humans more than dogs.
  • High in calories, so not as good for overweight dogs.
  • The smell. The ones that are most natural will have the strongest odor. Some people only have them outside for that reason.
  • If dogs have a beef allergy, the bully sticks will give them stomach problems.
  • The richness of the protein could give your dog diarrhea if he is not used to eating such things. 

Where bully sticks come from

Bully sticks are made from the penis of a bull. These are harvested in meatpacking plants from cows that have already been slaughtered for human consumption. It is a by-product of the process. If they were not used for this purpose, they would be discarded in a landfill or a dump and wasted.

They are just another way that parts of a bull that would not be suitable for human consumption can be used for other animals. Canned dog food, for instance, comes from parts of the bull that are not suitable for human consumption, the same way a bully stick is developed. The bull penises are discarded in the normal beef processing for the human process. Bulls are not killed specifically to get the materials to make the bully stick.

All-natural or not

Some bully sticks may also be “more natural” than others. Some have very little processing and are basically pure. The downside of this is the smell. They are very good for your dog, but the smell may bother you if the dog chews them inside the house. Other sticks have more processing, and will not smell as much. You will have to balance your desire for an all-natural product against your ability to tolerate a bad smell at times. Some people have their dogs chew the bully stick outside for this reason. 

Do bully sticks give dogs diarrhea?

If your dog is not used to this type of food, it can irritate the stomach and cause diarrhea in the short term. Bacterial issues can also cause stomach problems. For most dogs, this will clear up as they eat more of their regular food and get accustomed to the rich flavor of the bully stick. So, yes, they can cause diarrhea, but in most cases, it will be a temporary condition. Let your dog keep eating them if he feels like it, and he will get used to them in a short time and not have diarrhea anymore. 

Keep in mind, however, that your dog could be allergic to beef, and that could cause diarrhea as well. The allergic reaction is the only way the sticks could cause a long-term problem with diarrhea. If your pet does not get better in a few days and does not adjust to the sticks in a few days, stop giving them to the dog. In that case, you should contact your veterinarian and discuss the best course of action.

Some people are also concerned about bully sticks causing a blockage in the stomach. Dogs have very strong stomachs, and the bully stick is an all-natural product, so it should be digested easily.  The risk is very low for intestinal blockage from chewing on a bully stick. The greater risk would be having the dog chew it down so little that it becomes a choking hazard for your pet. Don’t let them chew it down to where it is small enough to become a choking hazard.