Never used Bully sticks, and gave up on Rawhide bones (some 40 years ago).
- I won't feed our Dobe anything I wouldn't eat myself...if stranded on a deserted island
- we are what we eat / dogs included
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- FOOD GUIDE LINES Bully Stick Treats: Delicious and Dangerous
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. 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? Bully Stick Treats: Delicious and Dangerous - The Dogington Post