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Shortly after getting a puppy, you’ll likely want to find out what to get them to chew on that isn’t your hand or arm. That’s where bully sticks come in! Bully sticks can be really great for puppies, and almost all dogs, for that matter, to chew on. Some of the benefits include improved oral health, relief from teething pain, and mental health benefits.

Yes, puppies can eat bully sticks, however, they are calorie dense, and so it’s important to monitor how much they eat of their bully stick. Too much might put them over their daily calorie intake requirement.

It’s also important that you choose the right size bully stick for your puppy, which we cover further on…

Why give your puppy a bully stick?

There are quite a few reasons why bully sticks are great for puppies. Some of these include:

  • Relief from teething pain
  • Improved oral health
  • Mental health benefits
  • High protein content

Bully sticks are especially good for puppies needing relief from teething pain. The shape and texture of a braided bully stick allows puppies to put their teeth and gums all over the braid, which helps relieve some of the pain they feel when experiencing teething.

Additionally, the oral health benefits that bully sticks provide can be lifelong for your puppy. The chewing and gnawing motions required to chew on a bully stick help keep plaque away before it can even get built up on your pup’s teeth.

For older dogs, chewing on a bully stick can actually help reduce the plaque that may have already been built up on their teeth.

There are also mental health benefits that bully sticks provide our dogs! As humans, we don’t really think of a dog’s mental health as much as we do their physical health, but it is so important to ensure that they are both healthy and happy.

Chewing on a long-lasting bully stick can actually be incredibly beneficial for dogs. The chewing and gnawing motion dogs utilize when chewing promotes the release of endorphins. More specifically, serotonin, which is the same chemical that humans refer to as the “feel-good” chemical. When serotonin is released, it feels good! And it does the same thing for our dogs.

beagle puppy chewing bully stick

Are bully sticks nutritious?

They contain some nutrients, but the most beneficial aspect of bully sticks is that they are an excellent source of protein for our pups. They contain around 80 to 90% protein. And they are low in fat and low in cholesterol.

However, bully sticks are extremely calorie-dense. A small six-inch bully stick usually contains around 55-90 calories. For a smaller pup, that could be as much as 30% of its daily caloric intake.

Even for a larger dog, it could still be as much as 9% of its daily caloric intake. Treats and chews are only supposed to take up a small percentage of a dog’s daily calorie intake. They should be getting the majority from their regular meals.

How often to feed your puppy bully sticks?

Since bully sticks are so calorie-dense, they may be better used as a chew for special occasions or when you really want to treat your pup. In general, though, most people say to only feed a puppy a bully stick about 2-3 times a week and decrease the number of other treats you give your dog on those days.

Your pup doesn’t need to chew on a bully stick until it is completely gone, either. A great healthy option would be to take the chew away from the pup for a while and give it back later on in the day. That way, you aren’t tempted to give two a day!

Choosing the right size bully stick for your puppy

Choose a high-quality bully stick from a reputable company. The chew should be sized appropriately for your dog. Choosing the right size may feel a little tricky but just make sure the bully stick is large enough that your pup can’t swallow it whole, and you should be good to go!

Here is a size chart that will help:

puppy bully stick size chart

For toy and mini breeds or puppies, the most common standard sizes of 5 and 6 inches would suffice. For small dogs, 6 inches up to 12 inches would be a good range.

For medium and large breed dogs, some could use a 6-inch, and some could use up to 12 inches.

For giant breeds, try a 12-inch bully stick. But be sure that if you do get a bully stick that is quite a bit bigger, that you take the bully stick away before the pup gets all the way done with it. We don’t need any upset tummies or chubby puppies!

There are different variations of bully sticks too. Some might be thin and short, while others are thin and long. Some come in short lengths but are extra-wide, and some are as big as 12 inches long and thin or wide. Others are shaped into spring shapes or even braided.

Also, consider a bully stick holder. Various companies and pet stores have bully stick holders now that help reduce the risk of choking. You simply place the bully stick into the holder. It should be tight, so the dog can’t pull it out. Now, your pup can chew to its heart’s desire without you having to worry about your pup swallowing a chunk!

It is usually recommended to buy bully sticks that are not only made in the USA but also sourced in the USA. This means that the bull was also from the USA, and the whole process was overseen by the USDA in a human-grade food facility, which holds US sellers to strict standards.

What is a bully stick?

A bully stick is a chew stick or treat that is made from only one ingredient. In a nutshell, a bully stick is made from beef muscle that is high in protein.

Specifically, the beef muscle comes from the pizzle, or penis, of a bull. While the origin of a bully stick may be a little off-putting to some people, dogs absolutely love it!

Other names for bully sticks

  • Pizzle sticks
  • Beef pizzle
  • Beef sticks
  • Bull pizzle
  • Pizzles
  • Steer sticks

How is a bully stick made?

A bully stick is made from the pizzle (penis) of a bull or a steer. The pizzle is cleaned, stretched out, lengthened, and then twisted to prepare it for dogs. From there, they can be prepared in a number of ways, like being oven-baked, smoked, or even just sun-dried.

After being stretched out and prepared, the result is a long and hard bully stick, which can be as long as 30 to 40 inches. Generally, though, they are cut down into smaller and various sizes for dogs.

Do bully sticks smell?

Some people do say that bully sticks are smelly, but for the most part, that is exactly when our dogs love them so much!

To be clear, a bully stick will have some odor to it, but it should by no means smell rotten or rancid. If that is the case, then it is likely that too much moisture got in the stick during the preparation process, and bacteria began to develop.

However, since it is an animal byproduct, it almost goes without saying that a bully stick will still have some degree of smell.

Some manufacturers make odor-free bully sticks. These bully sticks are usually either dried or cooked for an extra amount of time to ensure that there is reduced moisture and bacteria in the bully stick.

How long can a puppy chew on a bully stick?

While bully sticks are safe for puppies, our pups should only chew on a bully stick for 10-15 minutes at a time. Puppies also need to be supervised when they are chewing on a bully stick. Bully sticks are one of the safest options for chews on the market, but there is always a small risk that the puppy could chew the bully stick down to a small piece and choke or suffer from gastrointestinal trouble.

When the bully stick is chewed to the point where it is small enough to pose a risk, it is time to take it away from your pup and get a new one.

Bully sticks are easily digestible for dogs but only in small amounts. Swallowing a big chunk could do some serious damage to a puppy’s tummy.

In Conclusion

Bully sticks are a great option for puppies to get some extra protein in their diet, keep their teeth clean, and to keep puppies happy! Instead of throwing your dog a bone, try throwing your pup a bully stick every once in a while. Your pup will thank you for it!