When Do Bully Sticks Go Bad?

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.

Bully sticks are delicious, but they have a shelf life.

Unfortunately, they’re not meant to last forever. If you don’t take care of them, they’ll go bad and become unsafe for your dog to eat.

So when do bully sticks go bad? Can bully sticks go bad?

If you’ve been wondering when to throw out your bully sticks, this guide is for you!

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Dear Dog Owner

What Makes Up a Bully Stick?

Bully sticks are dried bull penises that are sold in pet stores and online, although who invented them is kind of unknown.

They can be purchased in varying sizes usually starting from 6 inches all the way up to 12 inches.

Bully sticks are created by stretching and twisting bull or steer penis, which is then dried, typically through dehydration, although occasionally they are also baked or smoked.

This turns them into a hard chewy treat that does not splinter easily for your dogs, and they can last a pretty long time too.

Bully Sticks: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Bully sticks are a great way to keep your dog occupied – they’re long-lasting and all-natural.

However, bully sticks can go bad if not stored properly.

Be sure to check the expiration date on your bully sticks and discard any that have expired.

If you’re unsure whether or not a bully stick has gone bad, throw it out – it’s not worth taking the chance!

If you do happen to get a bad bully stick, make sure to dispose of it properly.

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The Truth About Bully Sticks

If you’re looking for a chew toy for your dog, bully sticks may be the perfect option.

They’re typically cheap and easy to find, and many people believe that they are beneficial for dogs.

However, there is some information that is often left out of the discussion about bully sticks.

Here are three important things to know about them:

1. Bully sticks can go bad – which means they can be dangerous for your dog. Bully sticks have a shelf life of about two years, but if they’re not stored properly or if they’ve been handled by many different animals, the lifespan may be shorter. If you notice any changes in smell or texture, throw the bully stick away immediately. Also, if you notice your dog panting while chewing on a bully stick, it might have allergies. Get rid of it.

2. If stored properly, they can last longer – Even if it has been chewed on already, it’s still possible to refresh a bully stick for your dog if you store it properly.

Simply put the stick in a ziplock bag and seal it shut so that moisture doesn’t get inside the bag. You should also keep the stick away from direct sunlight so that it doesn’t spoil over time.

3. You can tell if a bully stick is bad by its smell and color – The best way to determine whether or not a bully stick is good quality is to smell and look at it closely. If either of these factors are off, then the stick probably isn’t going to be good for your dog anyway – even if it does still have some flavor left on it!

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Are Bully Sticks Safe For Your Dog?

how long do bully sticks last

Will bully sticks hurt your dog? Not very likely.

Bully sticks are made of natural ingredients that are safe for your dog to consume.

They do not contain any artificial preservatives, chemicals, or flavors, and are a healthy and nutritious treat option for your dog.

In fact, many people believe that bully sticks can be even healthier than some traditional dog food options.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to give your dog a bully stick as a treat.

First, be sure to supervise your dog when he is eating one.

You do not want it to become too small that it can be swallowed whole and become a choking hazard.

Second, make sure that the bully sticks you buy are made from high-quality ingredients.

Cheap bully sticks may contain artificial flavors or other unhealthy ingredients that could harm your dog.

Thirdly, limit the amount of time your dog gets to chew on it to 5 to 10 minutes each as bully sticks do have calories! Too much will lead to an imbalance in their diet and potentially cause them to become overweight.

Finally, always store bully sticks away from moisture and heat, since these factors can cause the sticks to become brittle and potentially dangerous for your dog to eat.

Unfavorable conditions like these will also encourage bacteria and other nasties to grow.

How To Tell If A Bully Stick Is Bad

Smell the bully stick.

A good-quality bully stick should have a strong smell that’s reminiscent of beef jerky or smoked meat (unless you get the odor-free versions) —yes, bully sticks smell but they shouldn’t smell rancid or sour.

If it does, don’t feed it to your dog!

Secondly, if you see mold growing on a bully stick, throw it away immediately.

Thirdly, look at the color of the bully stick.

If it has turned brownish or greyish, don’t use it.

That means it has become rancid and can’t be used safely anymore.

Lastly, this might seem obvious but some of us still miss it sometimes.

Check the expiration date. If it’s close to expiring, don’t use (or buy) it.

How Long Are Bully Sticks Good For After Opening?

If they are untouched and stored in a cool, dry place, bully sticks can still last about 1.5 to 2 years.

On the other hand, if your dog has started chewing on one, you should aim to let it finish within a few days.

You can clean it out with food-safe wipes and store them in the freezer to preserve its freshness.

Always double-check for mold before feeding your dog.

How long does a bully stick last?

Bully sticks come in different lengths, so how long one will last will depend on that.

Another factor that can determine how long one bully stick last is if your dog is an aggressive chewer.

Naturally, these dogs will chomp through a bully stick much faster than others.

In general, for an average-sized dog and average chewer, I reckon that one 12-inch bully stick can last about three to four 10-minute sessions.

When Should You Throw Out a Bully Stick?

Bully sticks might be super hardy, but they don’t last forever.

If you have a bag that is sitting in the garage or storeroom for too long, be sure to check before feeding your dog.

When it starts to smell weird, it is time to toss them out.

If it is one that you are feeding to your dog, the right time to throw it is when it becomes small enough to fit into your dog’s mouth crosswise.

You do not want it to become a choking hazard.

I personally cut it into tiny pieces and add them to my dog’s regular food.

How Long Do Bully Sticks Last?

Bully sticks are a long-lasting treat for dogs.

If you store them in the correct places, they will go for a long time.

Most manufacturers promise a shelf life of around 2 years at production, and there are also requirements that state that bully sticks need to have 1.5 years of validity when sold in stores.

If you found an old pack and are wondering if you should use it, your safest bet is to look at the expiry date, open it up for a whiff, and physically inspect the product for mold and abnormalities.

I recommend throwing them away if there is any chance that it is bad, no matter how minor.

Do Bully Sticks Expire?

Yes, bully sticks will expire.

Just like any other animal food product, they will go bad or expire over a period of time, especially if it is not stored properly.

When buying bully sticks, in particular in stores, always look for the expiration date and pay attention to the condition of the packaging too.

The Pros And Cons Of Giving Your Dog A Bully Stick

The Pros:

  • Bully sticks are great for keeping dogs occupied even just for a while.
  • They’re super durable and long-lasting, so your dog will have something to chew on and distract them when necessary.
  • That means less destructive behavior (like chewing on furniture) in your home!
  • Great protein supplement to their regular diets
  • Bully sticks also more digestible than rawhide chews—and they don’t stink nearly as bad when they get wet. (Rawhides can smell pretty bad!)
  • Chewing on bully sticks are good for your dog’s dental health.
  • And lastly…they’re just plain tasty for dogs! Most dogs absolutely love them!

The Cons:

  • They can be expensive
  • Calories can stack up quickly especially for small dogs and puppies (need to keep them controlled)
  • Not as smelly as rawhide, but still smelly (get the odor-free version instead)
  • Bully sticks can cause diarrhea if introduced too quickly
  • Bully sticks can cause vomiting if they get contaminated
  • Risk of choking if they get too small

Can bully sticks mold?

Yes, they can.

But how often and how quickly they mold depends on the conditions in which you store them.

If you keep your bully sticks in a cool, dry place, they’ll be less likely to mold than if you leave them in a windowless room where it’s hot and humid.

In Conclusion: When Do Bully Sticks Go Bad?

Bully sticks are a great source of protein, but they’re not good forever.

If you want to keep your dog healthy and happy, you need to know when bully sticks go bad.

Just make sure to always check through carefully (just like you would with any other foods) and all should be good!

Check out these other posts on dog diets too:

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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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