Misconception: Bully sticks contain no by-products
Truth: Bully sticks ARE a by-product.
To learn more about consumer and veterinary perceptions of their dogs’ food and treats, the researchers conducted a 20-question online survey for a period of 60 days. Of the, mostly female, dog owner respondents, 71% stated that they avoid animal by-products in their dog’s food and treats. However, for all intents and purposes, a bully stick IS a by-product. According to Dog Food Advisor, animal by-products are what’s left of a slaughtered animal after the edible parts have been removed. They include the waste of meat processing not intended for human consumption. This can include feet, beaks, brains, kidneys, stomachs, and, in the case of bully sticks, the animal’s penis.
While bully sticks only contain one part of the animal, not the rendered “stew” of leftovers commonly found in lower quality pet foods, they are still, in essence, considered a by-product.
Misconception: Bully sticks are cooked strips of beef.
Truth: Bully sticks are uncooked, raw, dried strips of beef penis.
Because manufacturers don’t come right out and say it on the packaging, instead opting for words like “pizzle,” most people surveyed did not know what the treats were actually made of. Only 44% of consumers knew that the sticks were made from the penis of a male cow. Even more surprising, only 66% of veterinarians knew what the bully sticks are made of!No information was provided on what percentage of consumers and veterinarians knew that the bully sticks are uncooked, dried, raw strips of meat.
Further research with a larger sample size is needed to determine whether the calorie content and contamination rate found in this study is representative of all bully sticks, or other types of pet treats, according to the authors. To see the full report, click here.
While it’s now been proven that bully sticks may pose a health risk to the dogs that eat them and the owners that handle them, they aren’t all bad. Because they are made from 100% beef, they are both highly palatable and easily digestible by dogs. They are an excellent source of quality protein and taurine, an amino acid that acts as a catalyst facilitating the flow of vital elements to and from cells. And, there are many manufacturers that provide natural or organic bully sticks that do not contain any additives, chemicals, preservatives, antibiotics, hormones or steroids. Plus, they provide a safer alternative to rawhide chews, which are not easily digested and pose a choking hazard, while satisfying your dog’s urge to chew.
Bottom line, if you’re able to get past the psychological barrier of feeding your dog a bully stick after knowing what they’re made from, look for a brand you trust, wash your hands after handling them, and adjust your dog’s diet to compensate for the additional calories their getting.
Does your dog enjoy bully sticks? Did any of these research findings surprise you?