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Is that sweet pup of yours adorable all the time, except for when they’re chewing on your shoes or nipping at your ankles? Bully sticks are a great solution, says Chris Roth, DVM, Resident Veterinarian at Pets Best Insurance. Unlike rawhide, which should be avoided as it can pose a choking hazard (if an oddly shaped piece breaks off and your pup swallows it), bully sticks are a safe, healthy, and easily digestible option for dogs.
Here, the best bully sticks on the market.
Best Overall: Bones & Chews Bully Stick 6" Dog Treats
“Many rawhides are impregnated with chemicals, which is one of the reasons you should not give them to your pet,” Dr. Roth shares. But you can feel good giving your dog these bully sticks as they're made of a single ingredient: 100 percent beef.
During the curing process, Bones & Chews' bully sticks are rinsed with water and vinegar—not chemicals—before being air dried. Even though these are preservative free, they keep for up to three years, so go ahead and buy them in bulk. The only downside (with these and most bully sticks)? They can smell a little funky. These 6-inch treats are appropriate for puppies and dogs of all sizes.
Best Budget: Barkworthies Braided Pork Dog Bully Sticks, 0.08 LBS
If you want to test out a bully stick to see if your pup likes it before investing in a full bag, try this single stick. Unlike most bully sticks, Barkworthies' option is made of pork, not beef, but it offers the same safe chewing dogs crave. Instead of a single solid stick, these ones are braided from three smaller strands, so they should last a long time, too.
Even though bully sticks are safe for dogs, Dr. Roth recommends keeping an eye on pups as they chew. “When a dog gets a stick chewed down to a small enough size, it can become a hazard if swallowed whole,” he says. You’ll want to take it away when it gets to that point.
Best for Puppies: Jack & Pup 6-Inch Premium-Grade Odor-Free Bully Sticks
Puppies love to chew, chew, chew as they try to break their teeth in—and you can persuade them to stay away from your furniture, curtains, and clothes with these 6-inch all-natural bully sticks. “Bully sticks provide a firm chew toy that will soften as it is gnawed on and will pass through the intestinal tract if/when swallowed,” Dr. Roth says.
No matter what your dog’s age, bully sticks are a good source of amino acids and provide a boost for your pup’s brain and coat. They’re also great for their teeth, even as they get older. The repetitive gnawing action removes plaque and tartar and helps strengthen gums, too. Jack & Pup's odor-free sticks are a great option as they're made from 100 percent premium-grade, grass-fed beef.
Best for Large Breeds: Nature Gnaws Large Bully Sticks 11-12" (10 Pack)
Larger dogs require bigger treats, so these 12-inch bully sticks are an easy way to keep your medium to large breed pup happily occupied. Nature Gnaws are made of free-range, grass-fed cattle—and only free-range, grass fed cattle—and the sticks are certified by a food safety lab before being inspected and hand-packed in the United States.
The manufacturer reminds owners to give their dogs plenty of water to go along with the treat. If you do find that your dog has irregular bowel movements after a treat, one reviewer notes that a side of fiber, in the form of canned pumpkin, helps her pup better handle protein-packed bully sticks.
Best Braided: Dentley's Natures Chews 9" Braided Bully Sticks
Heavy chewers could benefit from a braided chew stick, says Dr. Roth, as the three strands give your fur baby more to chew through. These all beef pizzle chews are recommended for moderate to heavy chewers. Want to know what beef pizzle is? It’s the dried penile tissue of a bull, Dr. Roth reports, while rawhide is a dehydrated portion of the animal’s skin without hair.
Be sure that your pup has plenty of fresh water on the day you give them a bully stick to aid in digestion. Dr. Roth says that how often you give your dog a bully stick will depend on the individual dog’s reaction, but somewhere in the range of once a day to once a week works for most pups.
Best Odor Free: Best Bully Sticks 6-Inch Standard Odor-Free Bully Stick
While bully sticks do keep your pup happily occupied for hours on end, the trade off is that you might have to put up with an odd scent. Luckily, that isn't so with this option that's made in Brazil of hormone-free, free-range, mature South American cattle. During processing, the all-natural sticks are hung vertically to help remove the moisture before being baked. As the manufacturer notes, “the longer they are dried, the less odor they have.” The result is an odor-free bully stick that’s so fresh it's suggested you store them in the freezer. You can toss one to Fido straight from the freezer, too—it'll just buy him more chew time.
Best for Teeth: Natural Farm Odor-Free Standard Bully Sticks
All bully sticks offer dental benefits because they’re made of a naturally hard material that helps to scrape off plaque and tartar from your dog’s chompers. Still, some options are better than others. We like that these are made of free-range, grass-fed Brazilian beef that is free of preservatives, chemicals, and additives and are appropriate for pups, seniors and every age in between.
Natural Farms' bully sticks are baked for three days so there’s less odor and they are made following USDA and FDA guidelines. Eco-minded pet parents will also appreciate that 51 percent of the company's packaging is made from renewable cane sugar.
Best Vegetarian: Himalayan Pet Supply Original Dog Chew
Strictly speaking, these aren’t bully sticks, but these chews—which are made of 100 percent yak and cow milk, salt, and lime juice—offer many of the same benefits. Like bully sticks, they satisfy your pup’s urge to chew, are beneficial for their teeth and gums, and are fully digestible. Reviewers swear they last longer than bully sticks, too—some even say that a single stick lasted a full month! The odor-free chews are made in rural community co-ops in the Himalayas using time-honored methods and 100 percent of the proceeds benefit women in Nepal.