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Bully Stick Dangers for Dogs

Updated February 21, 2017

Bully or "pizzle" sticks are tough pet chews made from the penis of an animal, usually a bull. Gnawing on a bully stick helps a dog relieve stress or boredom and chewing keeps its teeth and gums healthy. There are dangers with any dog treat or chew, however, and bully sticks are no exception.

Salmonella Poisoning

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that dog treats and chews, including bully sticks, are sometimes found contaminated with salmonella. It has issued at least one official warning for bully sticks. Salmonella infections can cause lethargy, diarrhoea and vomiting, sometimes severe enough to kill an immune-compromised dog or young puppy. If you see these signs in your dog, take him to your veterinarian.

Contamination to Humans

Dogs may not get infected, but can harbour the bacteria, transferring the bacteria to humans. A person can also get sick from handling contaminated bully sticks. Do not feed bully sticks that have been recalled or are known to harbour salmonella. The FDA recommends disposing of them in a secure dustbin and washing your hands after handling any dog chews such as bully sticks.

Choking Hazard

Like almost anything a dog puts in its mouth, bully sticks can pose a choking hazard. Although they are safer than rawhide dog chews, according to the VetInfo.com, you should take a bully stick away from your dog if it gets broken into small pieces or chewed to a short nub. Replace it with a new one. Bully sticks come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Don't give a large dog a small bully stick and never leave a dog unattended with any type of chew.

Odour and Staining

Bully sticks are dehydrated and sometimes smoked or coated with flavouring. Some varieties can release a fairly strong odour when the dog starts to chew. The coating can discolour whatever it comes into contact with, including your furniture and your dog's paws.

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About the Author

Stevie Donald has been an online writer since 2004, producing articles for numerous websites and magazines. Her writing chops include three books on dog care and training, one of which won a prestigious national award in 2003. Donald has also been a painting contractor since 1979, painting interiors and exteriors.