All dogs love treats, but the majority of treats don't last long. Bully sticks, on the other hand, take some time to get through, plus they help satisfy your dog's natural urge to chew. Not all bully sticks are of equal quality, however, so how do you find the best ones for your pooch?
You'll want to check out the source of the meat that goes into any bully sticks you're considering and avoid sticks with unnecessary additives. Also, be sure to choose bully sticks of the right size and shape to suit your dog.
We've created this quick guide to bully sticks to help you find the perfect treats for your four-legged friend, and we've included our picks for the top three products on the market, led by this braided version from Pawstruck.
Considerations when choosing bully sticks
It's important to choose the correct size bully sticks for your canine companion. If the bully stick is too large for your dog, she won't be able to chew through it, and if it's too small, it could pose a choking hazard. We generally recommend four-inch bully sticks for dogs 10 to 30 pounds, six- to eight-inch bully sticks for dogs 30 to 50 pounds, 10- to 14-inch bully sticks for dogs 50 to 100 pounds, and 20- to 24-inch bully sticks for dogs 100 pounds and up.
The source of the meat that goes into a bully stick will tell you something about the stick's overall quality. Pasture-raised beef is the best choice, ideally raised in the U.S. Bully sticks that don't tell you the source of the beef tend to be of poorer quality.
A quality bully stick should be made from 100% beef without any additives. Since bully sticks are dehydrated, they don't need preservatives to keep them fresh. Some brands of bully sticks contain additives to attempt to reduce the odor of the sticks.
You'll need to decide whether to buy a small pack of bully sticks, containing between two and five sticks, or a large pack of 10 to 15 sticks. If this is your dog's first time trying bully sticks, it's a good idea to start with a smaller pack, though you do get better value with a larger one.
You'll find bully sticks in a range of shapes, from simple sticks to circles and braids. Ultimately, the shape of a bully stick doesn't make a huge amount of difference, though thicker shapes, such as braids, are great for larger dogs. What's more, your dog might have a preference for one shape over another.
Bully sticks are more expensive than most treats, but they do last far longer than your average dog treat. Expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $15 per bully stick, depending on its size and quality. The overall cost per pack varies according to the number of bully sticks. That said, you'll usually get a lower price per stick when buying in bulk.
Q. Will bully sticks help my dog's dental hygiene?
A. Chewing stimulates the gums and naturally helps clean your dog's teeth, but bully sticks aren't a replacement for brushing your pooch's teeth.
Q. Are bully sticks and rawhide sticks the same thing?
A. No, rawhide sticks are made from animal hide, whereas bully sticks are made from 100% beef. Rawhide is more or less indigestible, which is why it can cause intestinal blockages or cause dogs to vomit after eating it. Although bully sticks aren't entirely safe, they're fully digestible and far less likely to cause any problems. Plus, they're extremely protein-rich.
Bully sticks we recommend
Best of the best: Pawstruck 12" Braided Bully Sticks
Our take: These 12-inch braided bully sticks are ideal for large-breed dogs and should last for some time.
What we like: No artificial ingredients. Less odor than some bully sticks. Dogs are less likely to chew off large chunks, which can cause blockages (though you should still be cautious).
What we dislike: Too large for your dog to chew in one go, so you will need to remove it after a reasonable chewing session.
Best bang for your buck: Pawstruck Bully Stick Variety Pack
Our take: This variety pack contains seven bully sticks in a range of different shapes and sizes between five and seven inches.
What we like: Pack is an excellent value. Helps clean your dog's teeth as he chews. Range of shapes keeps dogs interested.
What we dislike: Claims to be suitable for medium to giant dogs but sticks are still small enough to pose a choking hazard for extra-large dogs.
Choice 3: Nature Gnaws Small Bully Sticks
Our take: Thanks to their additive-free ingredients, you can be sure these natural bully sticks don't contain anything your dog shouldn't be eating.
What we like: Their five- to six-inch size and small diameter make them ideal for smaller mouths. Protein-rich and highly digestible.
What we dislike: Only suitable for small and medium dogs.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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