It is no secret that dogs like to chew. You will find them chewing out of boredom, relieving tooth pain, or getting over anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, your poor shoes, newspapers, or couch corners can often be the victim of this chewing spree.
If you want to calm your dog down, giving them chew toys and treats is a good option. Treats like bully sticks are chewy, edible, long-lasting, and a good source of nutrients. You can choose to buy these treats from the market or even make your own treats at home.
If the question on your mind is how to make your own bully sticks, the article will provide you with knowledge of the ingredients and cooking steps.
- Bully Sticks – What is it?
- What Advantages Do Bully Sticks Offer?
- How Are Bully Sticks Typically Made?
- Is Beef Safe For Dogs to Eat?
- Why Are Bully Sticks Expensive?
- How to Make Your Own Bully Sticks?
- How Often Should You Give Bully Sticks to a Dog?
- How Long Should You Let the Dog Eat the Bully Stick?
- Are There Any Alternatives to Bully Sticks?
Bully Sticks – What is it?
Bully sticks are chewy sticks that are made from a single ingredient. They are easily digestible and even healthy. The single ingredient is beef, more specifically bull penises.
It may sound weird to you, but it is a delicacy that your dog will surely enjoy. Canines in their natural habitat will consume all parts of the prey. Bull penises are no different.
If you are not familiar with the term bully sticks, it has other names that you may recognize—for example, beef pizzles, bull pizzles, beef sticks, pizzle sticks, and likewise.
What Advantages Do Bully Sticks Offer?
If you tend to leave your dog home alone for longer periods, bully sticks are a great way to keep them occupied. Here are some reasons why bully sticks make an excellent chewy treat option.
1. Easily Digestible
Bull penises are easier on your dog’s stomach than other beef pieces. For example, some canines will find it difficult to digest rawhides.
Rawhide chews also carry the risk of splintering. If the dog swallows a broken-off chunk, it can lead to obstruction. It can also be difficult for the dog to digest the broken-off piece of rawhide.
On the other hand, bully sticks break down easily in the dog’s digestive system. They do not splinter. So, the risk of obstruction or digestive issues is removed.
2. Nutritional Benefit
The single ingredient used in a bully stick is high in protein. It is a good source of amino acids, which provides the dog with energy to get through the day. In addition, it keeps the dog’s immune system strong. Amino acids also keep the brain, skin, and coat of the canine healthy.
Moreover, there are no artificial flavors, chemicals, additives, or preservatives in bully sticks. The other dog treats you can find in the market may contain unhealthy ingredients like BHA, BHT, wheat gluten, food dyes, and rendered fat.
BHA and BHT are marketed as antioxidants, but they can possibly cause cancer in dogs. Even for humans, BHA has been classified as a possible carcinogen.
Bully sticks are free from foreign ingredients and thus are a healthy and safe choice for your furry friend.
3. Avoid Dental Problems
Dental issues are best avoided with a regular brushing and cleaning routine. But did you know chewy treats and toys are an excellent way to ensure your dog’s teeth are in optimal condition?
Periodontitis is the most common dental concern amongst canines. It affects the gums and the bone around the dog’s teeth. Plaque and tartar build-up can result in inflammation. If left untreated, the dog can develop other dental issues like broken teeth, bad breath, and infection.
Chewing and gnawing on the bully stick does not let the plaque and tartar stick to the teeth, keeping the dog’s teeth, gums, and bones healthy.
4. Different Varieties Available
Bully sticks are the perfect treat partner for all dog breeds. You can give the treat to your puppy or your adult dog. This tasty treat comes in different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. So, you can pick any variety depending on your pet’s preference.
For example, if your dog is an intense chewer, you can try braided bully sticks. However, the dog will take some time to get through the stick because of its design.
On the other hand, if you are giving the treat to your senior dog that might tend to chew slowly, a straight, extra-thin bully stick would be ideal.
Please stay away from bite-sized sticks for larger dogs as they can quickly ingest the small pieces. Similarly, do not buy or make big sticks for smaller dogs as they can get bored and frustrated and leave the stick alone if it is not chewable.
How Are Bully Sticks Typically Made?
The manufacturing process of the treats differs from one brand to another. Smoking and baking are typically the two methods used to cook the meat.
For example, some brands will soak the meat in pure water and apply the slow baking technique to improve the chewy texture and lock in nutrients in the treat.
Some brands boil, roast, smoke, and slowly dry the meat over days. This process improves the flavor, makes the texture chewy, and keeps the treat odor-free and fresh for longer.
If you plan to buy the treats, see where the brand sources its meat from. For example, some treats are prepared using meat from grass-fed and free-range cattle in North and South America.
Is Beef Safe For Dogs to Eat?
Yes, beef is a human food that even your furry friends can enjoy. In fact, beef is a common ingredient used in many dog foods. It provides the dog with proteins, vitamins, and minerals essential for its growth and well-being.
You can give your dog bits of cooked lean beef or turn them into treats. Just ensure the meat is plain. Please do not add seasonings like salt, pepper, or sauces to make the meat flavorful.
Your dog’s palette is not refined to an extent where it can taste and appreciate the nuances of the sauce. In addition, the ingredients used in the sauces like onion can be harmful to canines.
Technically, dogs can eat raw beef. Some dogs may like it, while others may turn their noses up. But, it is best to stick to well-cooked beef.
With raw beef comes the additional risk of bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. Some dogs will find it a challenge to digest raw beef well.
So, yes, you can give your dog beef. Ensure it is plain and well-cooked.
Why Are Bully Sticks Expensive?
Well, the raw material used in bully sticks is limited. There is one penis per bull. When the meat supply is low and unpredictable, sourcing the ingredient in bulk can be difficult for large-scale manufacturers.
If you are looking for 100% organic options, the price will be higher. For example, per pound, grass-fed beef is around $3 more expensive than the options available at traditional stores.
Next, preparing the treat is a labor-intensive task. It needs to be washed and cleaned multiple times. Finally, the cooking process takes a minimum of 2 to 3 days. Depending on the manufacturer’s cooking method, it can take even more days.
All these factors make bully sticks a premium treat option. But, as these treats are loved and well-tolerated by most dogs, you can follow the steps mentioned below to make the treat at home.
How to Make Your Own Bully Sticks?
The advantage of making your own bully sticks is that you can customize them according to your dog’s preferences. You can rest assured about the ingredient being used and safely let your pet enjoy the treat.
Let us go through the steps of preparing bully sticks at home.
Step 1: Sourcing the Ingredient
As you know by now, this treat is prepared with bull penises. You might wonder, now this is a difficult raw material to source. But, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that is not the case. Most slaughterhouses and local butchers stock up on bull penises. Look for these vendors in your local area.
There are also 100% organic options available. The meat is sourced from grass-fed animals. So when you are sourcing the ingredient yourself, you have the peace of mind that you are feeding your dog pure meat, minus any chemicals or preservatives.
Step 2: Preparing the Ingredient for Cooking
The bull’s penis needs to be cleaned thoroughly to ensure no excess fat or excretions such as urine are present.
First, you will trim down any extra fat on the muscle. This is necessary to keep the calorie content of the treat on the lower end. Too much fat is not suitable for your dog’s pancreas.
Next, cut the meat down in the middle to release liquids such as urine or blood. Lastly, soak the meat in a bowl of clean water. Wash the meat several times to ensure the end product is purely hygienic and ready for the cooking process.
Step 3: Smoking or Cooking
You can either smoke the clean meat or bake it. Again, there is no need to add any flavors, seasoning, or chemicals. It is just pure meat.
If you have access to a smoker, you will have to slow-smoke the meat for a minimum of 72 hours.
Similarly, if you plan to bake the meat, you will have to cook it for a minimum of 72 to 96 hours. The meat has to be baked at 170°F.
The meat needs to be cooked for long hours to be completely dehydrated. The longer the meat is cooked, the better it is dehydrated. It will also help these treats last longer.
Step 4: Cut Into Desired Shape and Size
Once the meat has been thoroughly cooked, you can cut it in any length and thickness. Typically, bully sticks, length-wise, measure around six to nine inches. It is the ideal size for dogs, small or large, to easily chew on the treat.
You can, though, cut it smaller or larger depending on your dog.
If you are concerned about giving your dog store-bought treats, making this single-ingredient treat at home can ease your concerns. You know precisely what your dog is eating. Cooking bully sticks, though, can be time and effort-intensive. So, ensure you go through the instructions and set time apart in your schedule for cooking.
How Often Should You Give Bully Sticks to a Dog?
Now that you have learned how to make your own bully sticks let us see how many of these treats you should be giving your pets.
Bully sticks are healthy, they are a good source of protein, but they still are a treat. Thus, such food items should never take up more than 10% of your pet’s daily diet.
Some bully sticks can last for days while others get finished in about 2 to 3 hours. So, you should measure the number of calories your pet is consuming.
In general, you should give bully sticks to your dog two to three times a week. Some owners give the dog this treat once a day. But that should be the maximum limit when treating your pet with bully sticks.
If your dog can go through the stick faster than others, you may want to set time limits and take the treat away accordingly.
Remember, these sticks are not an alternative to regular and healthy meals. Over-consumption can lead to weight gain in your pet.
If you give your dog a bully stick every day, it will become an unhealthy habit. In addition, your dog will start expecting the treat daily, which can further lead to behavioral issues.
How Long Should You Let the Dog Eat the Bully Stick?
The answer depends on the type of dog you have. For example, if you are giving the treat to a puppy, let it chew for a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes.
Do not promote excessive chewing in dogs at an early age. The puppy’s teeth are still growing, and excessive chewing can potentially harm their development.
When it comes to adult dogs, you can let them chew on the stick for around an hour. If the dog is a slow chewer, you can let it chew on the stick for longer. Nonetheless, set a time limit depending on how slow or fast your pet can devour the stick.
Some pets can get obsessive and keep gnawing on the stick. They might no longer be interested in eating the treat but keep chewing because they are bored. It would be best to engage your pet in other activities and not let them chew on the stick indefinitely.
Are There Any Alternatives to Bully Sticks?
Here are some alternatives to bully sticks that are healthy and fun to chew on.
A vegetable may not be able to substitute the delicious flavor and chewy texture of meat. But it is a fresh and healthy alternative that your dog will learn to appreciate. In addition, it is a good source of nutrition. It provides nutrients like vitamin A, C, B6, calcium, potassium, and iron.
It is an excellent snack that will help keep your dog’s vision, skin, and nails healthy. The crunchy texture of the vegetable is also good for your pet’s teeth.
These are one of the eco-friendly chew options available. These antlers are naturally shed from animals like elk, deer, and moose. These antler chews are rich in nutrients like calcium and phosphorus.
They come in three grade types. Grade A is the premium quality, as the antlers have a high-moisture quantity. As a result, they will be comparatively softer to chew. Grade B has low moisture content and will be harder to chew.
Lastly, you have Grade C. These antlers will have lost most of their moisture and may even start cracking. Please supervise your pet when they chew on these treats, as they are more prone to splintering.
3. Buffalo Ears
This is another healthy and long-lasting chewy treat available. These treats are prepared using a single ingredient – buffalo ears. They are a good source of protein and omega-3 and free from artificial flavors or preservatives.
They are a low-calorie chew treat compared to other meat options such as beef and pig. In addition, the chewy texture of these sticks helps keep dental problems away.
Again, like a bully stick, buffalo ears are a treat, so feed them to your dog within reasonable limits.
You May Also Read: Puppy Feeding Tips And Tricks
How to make your own bully sticks? This treat is made from bull penises. So, start by sourcing the material from the local butcher’s shop. Then, thoroughly clean the meat and prepare it for smoking or baking.
The meat will have to be cooked for a minimum of two to three days until it is fully dehydrated. Lastly, cut the meat into desired shape and size.
Bully sticks are an excellent treat option as they offer good nutritional benefits, go easy on your dog’s stomach, and the chewy texture can help keep dental concerns away.
Remember that bully sticks are a treat, so be moderate with your servings.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.