Bully Sticks

posted: by: Dawn, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

You may or may not have heard about the dog treat called ‘bully sticks.’  They’re also known as ‘pizzle sticks.’


So what are they?


The uncooked, dried penis from a bull or steer.


While increasing in popularity, many veterinarians are advising against giving your dog bully sticks as treats.


A recent study by researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the University of Guelph involved testing on 26 bully sticks from different manufacturers and purchased in the US & Canada.  Both caloric density and bacterial content were tested on the various bully sticks.


The sticks tested showed a range of 9-22 calories per inch.  The average bully stick is 6 inches long, therefor averaging 88 calories.  That’s a lot of calories for a dog!  For a 10 pound dog, that’s 30% of his daily calorie requirements.  For a 50 pound dog, that’s 9% of the daily calorie requirements.  When the majority of today’s pet dogs are overweight or obese, these numbers alarm veterinarians.


However, more alarming than the calories, is the bacterial content of the sticks.  Remember, bully sticks are the uncooked, dried penis from a bull or steer.  Both the body part and uncooked status should sound an alarm for pet owners.


During this study, the 26 sticks collected were tested for bacterial content.  Here are the results:

            - 1 tested positive for Clostridium difficile (aka C. diff)

- 1 tested positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (resistant means it doesn’t respond to certain antibiotics)

- 7 tested positive for Escherichia coli (aka E. coli)

- of these 7, 1 was positive for a tetracycline resistant strain of E. coli, meaning the often used antibiotic tetracycline will not kill the bacteria


Yes, this is a small sample size.  But with those numbers, do you want to take the chance of making your dog sick?  And what about you when you handle the treat?  You could become sick as well.  The bacteria in these types of treats doesn’t just affect the dog that eats it; they also affects the pet owners who give out these products to their pets.


So please consider what you are giving your pet as a treat.  Also consider the number of calories in those treats.  Most pet food and treat companies list calorie content on their websites, or you may call them for calorie content.  It’s not just a number, but what that number represents in terms of overall daily caloric intake for your pet.


Suburban Animal Clinic has compiled a list of the calorie content of the more popular treats.  Feel free to ask for a copy at your next visit!  Our goal is to help your dog maintain a healthy weight and a long, healthy life.

Suburban Animal Clinic is located in West Columbus off I-70 near I-270.  Suburban Animal Clinic serves Galloway, Hilltop, West Side, Georgesville, West Jefferson, Grove CityGrandviewUpper Arlington (including OSU Campus area), Hilliard and Dublin.