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Bully sticks, also known as pizzle sticks, are an increasingly popular treat for dog owners. Dogs love the taste and texture, and parents love their long-lasting, natural source of protein they provide. But, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding these tasty sticks of meat.
In a study published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, Tufts University, researchers analyzed the bully sticks both for their nutritional values and for their potential to harbor bacteria. The team also revealed several common misconceptions about the popular chewy treats through a series of interviews to consumers and veterinarians. You might be surprised by their results!
Misconception: Bully sticks are a healthy, low-calorie snack.
Truth: Bully sticks are actually found to be very high in calories, containing between 9 and 22 calories per inch.
Researchers analyzed 26 bully sticks sold across Canada and the United States by different retailers and brands. On average, a 6-inch bully stick contains around 88 calories, that’s 9% of the daily calorie requirements for a 50-pound dog, and 30% of the daily calorie requirements for a 10-pound dog. With dog obesity on the rise, thanks in big part to the popularity of treats and chews as an easy way for pet owners to reward good dog behavior or entertain a restless pooch, pet parents need to take into consideration the extra calories these treats add to their dog’s diet, and compensate by cutting back on their food intake.
“While calorie information isn’t currently required on pet treats or most pet foods, these findings reinforce that veterinarians and pet owners need to be aware of pet treats like these bully sticks as a source of calories in a dog’s diet,” said Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN, professor of nutrition at TCSVM who is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.
Misconception: Bully sticks are completely safe and free from contaminates.
Truth: The popular treats are known to harbor dangerous bacteria, harmful if not handled correctly.
All 26 treats were tested for bacterial contaminants. 4% of the sticks were contaminated with Clostridium difficile; 4% were contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics; and 27% were contaminated with Escherichia coli, including one tetracycline-resistant sample.
The number of treats sampled was small and not all of these bacterial strains have been shown to infect humans. However, the researchers advise all pet owners to wash their hands after touching such treats. The very young, elderly, pregnant, immuno-compromised and other high-risk individuals should avoid all contact with the treats.
Continue to page 2 for more misconceptions and truths about bully sticks…