Do Bully Sticks Make Dogs Aggressive?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

As a dog owner, we are often very concerned about our dog’s behavior and monitor it regularly. While all of us would love to make them happy and intelligent, there might be factors that can change that. Recently, a fellow dog parent asked, Do Bully Sticks Make Dogs Aggressive?

Bully sticks do not cause aggression in dogs. They are made of only one ingredient and have nothing in them that would change your dog’s behavior. Bully sticks are all-natural chew toys that satisfy your dog’s natural instinct to chew. They are made from dried bull parts and taste yummy for your dog.

Puppies in particular benefit from a bully stick as it helps them with tooth pain related to teething.

So if all this is true, then why do some people see a link between bully sticks and aggression? 

Your dog may exhibit signs of aggression as a warning not to take away their bully stick. If your dog is aggressively protecting it then they are likely to have those same behaviors with other items as well, like food or toys. 

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Dear Dog Owner

What Are Bully Sticks?

Bully sticks are essentially chewy type treats for dogs. They are made to be easily digestible from a single ingredient, typically beef muscle, and are a popular treat that dogs love.

The process includes dehydration, which makes the sticks resemble something like jerky, and most manufacturers indicate that no artificial flavoring or colors are added. This makes it an all-natural and healthy snack for your doggies.

The added benefit of bully sticks also includes the fact that they will not break easily and cause any harm to your dog. In fact, it can potentially help to clean up your dog’s teeth!

Doggy says, read this too: How to stop your dog from peeing on the deck?

Why Do Bully Sticks Make Dogs Aggressive?

It is pretty commonly understood to avoid approaching animals while eating because they might show hostility as a natural instinct.

This aggressive instinct is built into a dog’s DNA and was an important survival mechanism for their ancestors.

In order to survive, dogs and wolves had to protect their food from being taken away to avoid starvation.

There’s a name for this and it’s called resource guarding.

Dogs may ‘guard’ or show protectiveness for food, toys, and territory and it can be directed both at humans and toward other animals. 

Dogs also chew bully sticks as a way to ease tension and stress.

They may be slightly more high-strung when they are chewing away their frustrations, which may create a link between aggressive behavior and bully sticks.

Of course, every dog is different and some dogs don’t show any aggression related to resource guarding at all. 

Are Bully Sticks a Healthy Treat Choice?

Bully sticks are a healthy treat for your dog and have many associated benefits. They are an all-natural treat that is dried during its manufacturing process and does not have any traces of added chemicals or pesticides that could be harmful to your dog. 

Bully sticks are also nutritious for dogs! Since bully sticks are 100% beef, they contain a lot of healthy protein.

Protein is crucial for your dog since it delivers a healthy dose of amino acids that promote a healthy coat, nails, and skin, and help build muscle.

Amino acids also help support healthy brain function for your dog.

Dogs have a natural instinct to chew on things and if they don’t have toys to do this, they will chew on whatever they can find, like furniture and pillows. Giving dogs a bully stick will promote positive chewing habits rather than destructive ones. 

Bully sticks are also good for your dog’s mouth and teeth. It helps them exercise their jaw muscles and promotes jaw muscle development in puppies. Its hard surface also scratches away plaque from your dog’s teeth and helps keep their mouths clean.

Finally, Bully sticks help a dog release stress and aggression and are good for “power chewers” such as Labradors, Boxers, and Jack Russells.

The hard, sturdy sticks are strong enough to withstand even the most ferocious chewing. This can benefit your dog’s mental health since the aggressive chewing releases endorphins that make your dog feel good. 

Doggy says, read this too: Why do dogs sleep with their tongues out?

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How Long Should You Let Your Dog Chew on a Bully Stick?

Though bully sticks are perfectly safe, you should still monitor your dog while they chew on one.

Although they are safe and nutritious, bully sticks have calories too. This means you shouldn’t let your dog finish one too quickly.

Bully sticks usually take a long time for your dog to finish, but it is a good idea to pay attention to how much they are eating in a day.

Make sure to take away the bully stick if it seems like they are eating too much as this might cause them not to want to eat their regular meals.

Bully sticks are also very good for your growing puppy, but puppies need to be cut off from their bully stick after around 10 minutes of chewing per day.

The main reason is the high protein content.

Puppies’ digestive systems are not fully developed yet and chewing on one for too long can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Excessive chewing could also cause damage to their teeth and gums. 

Adult dogs can chew for longer, but you still have to monitor the situation. Every dog is different and some can chew for a long time with no adverse effects while others cannot. You know your dog best so just keep an eye on their chew time and look out for any negative side effects. 

How Long Should You Let Your Dog Chew on a Bully Stick

When Should You Remove a Bully Stick?

You should take away your dog’s bully stick when it becomes small enough to be swallowed or if you notice a piece is hanging off of it that will soon be chewed right off.

Large pieces of bully sticks can be sharp and cause ruptures along the gastrointestinal tract. In a worst-case scenario, it can cause intestinal blockages or asphyxiation. 

It’s a good habit to check the bully stick after every play session to ensure it’s still in good condition and still acceptable for your dog to chew on.

If you are unsure about whether or not the toy is safe, just throw it out and buy a fresh one. They are cheap and it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

Doggy says, read this too: How to stop my dog from eating worms?

Disadvantages of Bully Sticks

Though bully sticks are a safe chew toy with many benefits, there are a few disadvantages that you should watch out for. 

One of the biggest disadvantages to bully sticks is the fact that they have been known to carry harmful bacteria.

There have been traces of salmonella found on them which can cause a lot of gastronomical distress for your dog.

In order to avoid possible contamination from harmful bacteria, make sure you are choosing a well-known brand that processes its sticks at hygienic facilities.

If a bully stick seems to upset your dog’s stomach at all, it’s best just to take it away and maybe try a different, more reputable brand. 

Finally, bully sticks do have a bit of an unpleasant smell.

Dogs love it! But humans…. not so much. 

Doggy thinks you may like this too: Dog Drags Another Dog by the Collar? [Solutions]

Best Bully Sticks for Your Dog

Most of the bully sticks out in the market are somewhat similar, and for us, we decided to base our decision on the brand’s trustworthiness and reputation in the business.

Here are our top choices for bully sticks that you can consider for your pet too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is It Ok to Give My Dog a Bully Stick Every Day?

It is ok to give your dog a bully stick every day, but just make sure they aren’t going through the stick too quickly. If they are ingesting a lot of the stick every day, make sure to take it away from them after a while. Only let them have it once a day to play with and chew, and only allow them to go through an entire stick 1 – 2 times a week. This is due to the high-calorie content. 

Do Vets Recommend Bully Sticks?

Vets recommend bully sticks as long as you follow the same guidelines mentioned above. They are safe, all-natural, and nutritious chew toys that can keep your dog entertained for hours!  

Doggy says, read this too: How long is a day for dogs?

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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