Posted on March 24, 2013
The Lowdown on Bully Sticks
Do you give your dog bully sticks as treats? If so, you may be surprised by some information recently released by researchers from Tufts University and the University of Guelph. They have discovered that people who feed bully sticks are unknowingly providing extra calories and potentially harmful bacteria to their dogs.
Here is what the bully stick researchers discovered:
- Only 62 percent of veterinarians and 44 percent of dog owners know that these “treats” are, in fact, uncooked, dried penises harvested from slaughtered bulls and steers. If you were not in the know, no worries. Clearly you have plenty of company!
- The bully sticks studied (made by 26 different manufacturers in the United States and Canada) contained from nine to 22 calories per inch. On average, a six-inch stick contained 88 calories. Keep in mind that 88 calories equals approximately 30 percent of the recommended daily caloric intake for a 10 pound dog and nine percent of the daily recommended calories for a 50 pound dog. Also keep in mind that many bully sticks are considerably longer than six inches. (A great opportunity for a joke here, but I digress!)
- Of the 26 bully sticks tested, eight contained bacterial contamination: one contained Clostridium difficile, one contained methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and seven contained Escherichia coli. Yuck! All of these bacteria have the potential to cause disease in the humans handling the bully sticks as well as the dogs eating them.
What does this research mean for you and your dog? If you regularly give bully sticks to your best buddy, it’s a darned good idea to proportionately reduce the portions provided at mealtime. Thoroughly wash your hands after handling bully sticks. Additionally, be on the lookout for symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite which could be caused by bully stick bacterial contamination. Perhaps better yet, consider discontinuing feeding bully sticks altogether. If I were a bully stick feeder (never have been because I am in the know about the body part from which they arise), this is certainly what I would do.
Now, what have you to say about them bully sticks?
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.