Bully Sticks 

Dogs love to chew. And chew. And chew. If we don’t give our dogs snacks to chew on before we leave the house, there’s a good chance we’ll return home to find clothes, furniture or bedding ruined. Unfortunately, many chewable treats come with dangers. Dog bones can splinter while your dog is chewing and cause lacerations to their mouth, throat or intestinal lining. Rawhide chews can sometimes break off into large pieces and become lodged inside of fido, causing “dog bloat” and requiring surgery. But there is one natural treat that your dog can safely enjoy: Bully sticks.

What are bully sticks?

Brace yourself for this one, folks. Bully sticks, aka beef pizzles, pizzle sticks, beef sticks or steer stix, are made from 100% bull penises. That’s right, bull penises… what more can we say? They’re cut, dried, drained and flavored, and can be completely natural and organic. Compared to other dog chews, they tend to last quite a long time, and most dogs love them. They’re also naturally low in fat and can help keep your dog’s teeth clean. There is, however, one big problem that usually drives people away: Once dogs begin to chew on them, many bully sticks release a rather unpleasant odor. Your dogs won’t mind – but you might.

Luckily, several companies have realized that this is a problem some people just won’t put up with and are now selling low odor or odorless bully sticks. Before you go out and buy one, be aware that some companies use chemicals, such as peroxide, to remove the smell. Luckily, others use more natural means, such as getting bully sticks from free range, grass fed bulls and making sure that there is less blood in the final product. Two such companies – Best Bully Sticks (BBS) and Only Natural Pet Store (ONP) – were kind enough to provide me (and my dogs!) with samples of their product to test it out. I also purchased a generic 6” Petco brand bully stick as a sort of “control group” to smell the difference for myself.

Smell the difference

Before our dogs had chewed a single one, I took a sniff test. Much to my surprise, the generic Petco bully stick didn’t smell at all. Neither did the 12” bully sticks provided by BBS and ONP. BBS’s 6” bully sticks did have an unpleasant odor when I opened the bag and breathed in deep, but it wasn’t something I noticed just by handling the product.

I let the dogs try out the 6” BBSs first, and couldn’t smell anything. They really seemed to enjoy them, and our 13- and 17-pound pups had each finished their bully stick by the end of the day without adding to the aroma of our home.

Next I gave each of them a 12” bully stick, one BBS and one ONP. These took them a few days to get through (hooray for long-lasting treats!) and at no point was I bothered by any nasty smell. In fact, the only time I could really notice anything was when I picked up the thoroughly chewed treats and stuck them close to my nose. The odor wasn’t exactly pleasant, but if it has to be 3 inches from my face, who cares? I was actually beginning to wonder if people had just exaggerated the smell.

Then I tried the generic Petco bully stick, and finally I understood. Though it was odorless before they began chewing on it, a pungent stench quickly filled our living room and wouldn’t leave for a day. Regular bully sticks stink!

Photo Credit: BestBullySticks.com