Bully Sticks Dog Chews

Are Bully Sticks Safe For Dogs?

Entertainmydog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We never endorse items we would not use ourselves.

Bully sticks are a popular treat for dogs because they’re long-lasting, easy to carry around and delicious (according to your pup). But are bully sticks truly safe for dogs?

These chews can be a great source of protein for your dog. They’re also higher in quality than other treats because they normally don’t contain any artificial flavors or preservatives. But, like all treats, they do need to be given in moderation.

It is essential to consider the size of your dog as well when introducing bully sticks as a treat. If you have an aggressive chewer who tends to swallow anything whole without chewing, then you may need a bully stick holder. Bully stick holders help prevent your dog from gulping down the last large piece of a bully stick.

Our top 10 recommendations for bully stick holders

Let’s discuss in further detail bully sticks and what to look for before buying them for your dog.

A bully stick in one of the top bully stick holders, the Bully Buddy

What are bully sticks?

We’ll start by answering the question on everyone’s mind – yes, bully sticks are bull penis. According to a survey from the Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, about half of dog owners don’t know this fact.

This dried muscle is a tasty teat for your pup and can be a great chew. Bully sticks are made through a thorough process of dehydration. Sometimes, these treats are made using additional procedures like smoking or baking to treat the bacteria, while all the nutrients remain intact.

Are bully sticks safe for dogs?

You may have heard conflicting opinions about the safety of bully sticks for dogs, so the answer to this question can feel a bit gray. Most reputable sources (such as the American Kennel Club) say that pizzles are one of the best chew options for a dog and provide readily digestible protein and fats. These same sources say that these chews contain low-fat and taurine (an amino acid that aids with heart muscle health).

While bully sticks are considered safe, you still need to purchase high quality products from reputable companies to ensure their process properly removes the bacteria. Also, as with any treat, supervise your dog’s chew time.

Nutritional benefits of bully sticky

Mental health benefits

A bully stick is an excellent treat for dogs of all ages. Humans often do different things in the name of hobbies to keep our minds occupied and the same is the case with our furry friends. Mental stimulation is incredibly important for your dog. Not properly working your dogs mind can make your pup bored. As often discussed on, boredom is when a dog gets into trouble.

Chewing different things is an activity that dogs enjoy and will help occupy their time. Bully sticks offer one of the best and safest ways for dogs to chew on while also keeping their mind occupied!

The natural act of chewing and licking can be a calming relief for anxious pets. Not to mention the endorphins released provide mental stimulation as well! If you have any dog that suffers from phobias or anxiety, bully sticks can be great help.

Dental benefits

One of the primary and most crucial benefits that makes the bully stick great is its benefits for oral health. Bully sticks have a hard texture, and even if your dog is an aggressive chewer, he will have to spend time chewing on them. If you have a small breed dog, they can spend a whole day chewing on a bully stick. The mechanical abrasion that occurs due to chewing will help remove tartar.

Full of nutrition

Bully sticks are perfect for your pup because they’re all natural and made from that single ingredient discussed prior (bull penis if you forgot). They contain no artificial additives, flavors, or chemicals – just pure protein full of amino acids that are great for their muscles, coat, and skin!

Available in different sizes

Bully sticks for dogs are great chew toys. They come in different shapes and sizes, so there’s plenty to choose from! Puppies can start using bully sticks as soon as they have teeth that will allow them to chew on hard food. The dental benefits of these treats make them an excellent choice for any dog lover with an aging pup or young newbie alike – the chewing action is sure to please all age groups!

A bully stick with another one of our recommended bully stick holders, the Bully Grip

Problems associated with feeding bully sticks

Caloric Content

The first and the most critical problem in using bully sticks is that they contain a higher number of calories. From the prior referenced, University of Tuft study, pizzles contain about 9-22 calories per inch. The number of calories increases as the thickness of the stick increases. This means the standard 6” bully stick contains about 90 calories.

The problem of the high caloric content can be addressed by awareness – knowing how many calories a bully stick contains and the amount your dog can have per day.

90 calories from treats in a day is the recommendation for a dog over 60lbs. The general rule of thumb is treats should be about 10% of your dogs daily calories.

That rule of thumb is not helpful if you don’t know much your dog should be eating. For a quick solution, you can use a the Calorie Calculator for Dogs from the Pet Nutrition Alliance. This calculator is designed as a tool for vets and states it “is only a guideline.”

For the long term, we recommend you speak with your vet about your dog’s specific needs.


Many people are concerned about the bacteria due to bully sticks being an all-natural, raw animal muscle. Thankfully, dog’s stomachs and bodies handle infections differently than humans. Their stomachs are far stronger and can deal with bacteria better than ours. But, there is still potential for vomiting or diarrhea if not purchasing high quality pizzles.

A large mitigation to this concern is to be aware of the contamination risk and to ensure you properly handle treats – mainly washing your hands after contact.


Negativity around bully sticks often comes because of the belief that chemicals are used in processing these treats like chlorine. Reputable companies do not use chemicals in their process of making bully sticks. Improperly processed bully sticks have been linked to cancer.

While not a guarantee, purchasing from a reputable company can prevent encountering chemical or bacteria contaminated bully sticks. These companies make sure their process is as hygienic as possible.

A pup with a bully stick holder from West Paw, the Toppl

How to choose a bully stick for your dog?

Bully sticks are available in various sizes, shapes, and textures to suit all dogs’ needs. There are thinner bully sticks for small-breed puppies who need a more delicate chew that will help them get their teeth used to chewing without crushing too much of the stick at once. Heavy chewers should go for braided or knotty bully sticks, which have greater resilience and texture than other types of dog chews.

What you should look for when purchasing your pup’s pizzles:

  • Made up of 100% natural beef
  • From free-range
  • Contain no artificial preservatives
  • Free of hormones and additives
  • No chemicals


Bully sticks are extremely popular among dog owners because of their taste and nourishing qualities. With a few precautions in mind, they are safe to use as well.

So, remember:

  • High Quality
  • No Chemicals
  • Awareness of the calories
dog entertainment ideas dog entertainment toys Food

10 Best Bully Stick Holders – Safer and Longer Lasting Pizzles

Bully sticks are one of best chew treats for your dog. They are long lasting and all natural, made up of only one ingredient – high protein beef muscle. There is a major downside to bully sticks, the choking hazard. When dogs get down to the last few inches of their pizzle stick, they can try to swallow the remaining piece whole. When this happens, your dog can choke or the piece can cause a blockage.

Entertainmydog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We never endorse items we would not use ourselves.

Where Bully Sticks Come From - shaggy bull with tongue sticking out
Where bully sticks come from

To prevent dogs from swallowing the stick whole, you can use a bully stick holder. But, bully stick holders are not all made the same. Some holders focus on making sure your dog doesn’t eat the last small piece while others focus on making the stick last longer.

All of these holders are meant for bully sticks of a range of thicknesses. For the stick to fit properly, make sure you have the right size.

Note: throughout this article we also refer to bully sticks by their other fun name, a pizzle.

Holders to prevent choking

Bow Wow Labs Bully Buddy

Blue buddy buddy safety device

The inventor of the Bully Buddy, Scott Woolwine, created Bow Wow Labs after a scary incident with his pup, Finn. Finn choked on the small piece of his bully stick but, thankfully, was able to successfully coughed it up. After this event, Scott created the Bully Buddy to hold that last piece and prevent your dog from chocking. The Bully Buddy company, Bow Wow Labs, also has their own brand of bully sticks to ensure a proper, tight fit.

In the image above, the green piece on the end allows you to tighten the screw into the bully stick for a tight fit. The screw can be tightened with your fingers.

Bully buddy from the side showing the screw

Bully Grip

Purple Bully Grip Bully Stick Holder

With a similar story to the above Bully Buddy, the creator’s dog, Tesla, swallowed a 3″ piece of the bully stick. After going to the vet and getting fluids, Tesla was able to pass the stick (in tact). Using the Bully Grip is very intuitive and you just need to twist your dogs bully stick into the thickest part and it will hold the stick in place allowing for safe and fun chewing. A positive and negative of the bully grip is how hard the bully stick is to remove. While it’s hard for the dog, it can also be a challenge to take it out when your dog is done.

Due to reviews from customers struggling to remove the last bit, Bully Grip released the instructional video below. Wet the Bully Grip then use a hex head screw to push out the remaining nub.

Bonehead Holder

Bonehead blue and pink bully stick holder

The bonehead holders are reasonably priced at less than $6 each but they’re made for Himalayan Yak Chews so they only work with larger bully sticks. With a large or extra thick pizzle, these work by tightening the screw into the bully stick. Unlike the Bully Buddy, the Bonehead’s screw is tightened with a screwdriver so you do need to have the tool on hand.


Bully sticks with holes drilled in the end and the green safety chew

Newly launched, the SafetyChew is different than the others in functionality. You drill a hole through your bully stick and put the SafetyChew’s pin through the hole. You can also purchase predrilled bully sticks from the company.

green safety chew with pin in the center

While the pin method may take some extra work, it is almost guaranteed your dog cannot get the bully stick out. Also, if you have a drill and small bit, it’s not hard to prep multiple sticks in advance.

Extend Chew Time

These toys will extend the fun of your dog’s bully stick but will not hold the stick tightly. Make sure to supervise your dog and their stick when playing with these toys.


blue west paw qwizl to hold your pups bully stick

Many swear by the West Paw company and their Qwizl sticks are no different. You stick the bully stick in and it extends the life as your dog tries to navigate the twists and holes. It is recommended for high chewers but is soft so your dog won’t break a tooth. It is possible for your dog to pull the pizzle out so this is not for gulpers.

One negative of the Qwizl is due to how much of the bully stick is covered. It extends the life of the chew but your dog may not be able to access the whole stick so there could be a lot left over.

Benebone PawPlexer

Benebone pawplexer bully stick holder

Another beloved brand, the Benebone Pawplexer is a highly rated bully bone holder. While it does not hold the stick tight enough for a gulper, the Pawplexer makes bully stick time a lot more fun. The holder itself is also a bacon flavored tough chew. Benebones are great quality, US made toys. If you want a tighter hold with the Pawplexer, the white center piece is about 1/2″.

Black dog chewing on a bully stick in the benebone pawplexer bully holder

WestPaw Toppl

Green topple treat dispenser and bully stick holder

The Toppl is a different design than the other holders we’ve previously discussed. It comes from the highly respected company, West Paw, like the Qwizl. The Toppl is a treat dispensing puzzle but the hole allows you to stuff pizzle sticks through the toy to extend chewing time. You can also buy the two sizes of the Toppl and combine them together as shown in the picture below.

Topple with two pieces and a dog chewing
Two sizes of the Toppl combined for double the fun

Because of the different design, you can get more creative with this treat dispenser. Put a bully stick through the hole, add yogurt and blueberries then freeze. This makes a long lasting, fun treat for your dog.

LaRoo Yummy Ball

la roo orange yummy ball fill with treats and bully stick

This ball has a hole in the end which you can stick the bully stick inside of as shown below. Because it is a round ball, this turns the bully stick in an exciting toy for your dog. You can also add treats, peanut butter or cream cheese to the outer ridges for more fun.

space inside laroo yummy ball

N/H Stick Holder

N/H dog toy green bully stick holder

Another toy to slow the consumption of bully sticks. The N/H holder allows for you to stick a pizzle inside and extend the life. The textured rubber also cleans your dogs teeth.

Golden retriever holding a bag with the toy as a grip

An interesting feature of this toy is you can use it to train your dog to carry bags. The toy holds the bag handle to give your pup a better grip.

LaRoo Bone Puzzle

laroo yellow bone puzzle double sided bully stick holder

The best part of the LaRoo Bone is you can fill both ends with the bully stick or treats. While not easy, you can cut the bully stick in half to put a side in each end of the bone. You can also add the ridges on the end with cream cheese, soft food or peanut butter. Freeze the bone for longer play.

chewy bone inside bully stick

Bully sticks are not all made the same. With any dog treats, some are made of more high quality ingredients. Others take shortcuts and are not safe for your dog. Cheaper bully sticks also may not last as long.

Natural Farm Bully Stick

Natural Farm Bully stick 6 inch

All natural, single ingrediant bully stick. Low odor and heavily cleaned before being slow cooked. Because these are natural, the thickness may vary. But, the packages all contain the same amount of meat. The sticks are about an inch thick.

Bow Wow Labs Bully Stick

Bow wow labs safe bully stick

These bully sticks are made by the same company as the Bully Buddy. The pizzles are from grass-fed, free-range bulls and contain no chemicals. Because they are made specifically for the Bully Buddy, you can match the size of the stick to your Bully Buddy size to ensure a tight fit. It also shows the dog weight for the right size.

Bully buddy stick size

Pawstruck Braided 12″ Bully Stick

braided 12" Pawstruck bully stick

The braided bully stick from Pawstruck is 3 standard bully sticks intertwined. Due to it being 3 sticks in one, the braided bully sticks are a touch more expensive that a standard stick but these last far longer. Owned and operated in the US, these are made in a South American plant which adheres to the highest quality standards.

10 best bully stick holders. Increase bully stick safety and chew length.