Will Bully Sticks Digest Safely in Your Dog’s Stomach?

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 a favorite treat among dogs, but they can also be a source of worry for some pet owners. What if your dog swallowed a bully stick? Will it cause choking?

Will bully sticks digest?

Yes, bully sticks will digest easily if swallowed by your dog. They are created from bull muscles, specifically bull penis, a type of protein that dogs can easily absorb. In order to give it safely, you need to be mindful of the size and keep an eye on them while they are chewing to prevent them from swallowing.

In this post, you will learn more about the potential dangers and what you can do if your dog does swallow one.

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Dear Dog Owner

Do Bully Sticks Digest if Swallowed?

Do Bully Sticks Digest if Swallowed?

Bully sticks are very safe, and are highly digestible if swallowed. I can’t promise you it won’t have any bad effects on your doggo though.

I understand bully sticks can be too irresistible to your four-legged friends and there might be instances when they are accidentally ingested.

If your pup doesn’t show any signs of a stomach problem, swallowing bully sticks won’t cause any digestive issues.

The proteins in bully sticks make them easily digestible.

On the other hand, if it is showing signs of distress, further action will be required from you (I’ll discuss more on this later).

So although bully sticks DO digest when swallowed, you still gotta be careful to avoid serious troubles such as choking or intestinal blockages with your dog.

Do you know the difference between collagen sticks and bully sticks?

Can Bully Sticks Get Stuck In A Dog’s Stomach?

A bully stick can be digested, but when swallowed accidentally, it CAN get stuck in a dog’s stomach.

This happens when the treat is still large enough to cause blockage.

Dogs with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues might struggle more so than a regular dog in this case.

This is why you need to remember the advice given earlier: Supervision.

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How Long Does It Take For Bully Sticks To Digest?

Both the size of the dog and the size of the bully stick can affect how long it takes for a dog to digest a bully stick.

However, as a very rough guide, it normally takes dogs of all sizes 3 hours to completely digest a bully stick.

In order to prevent your dog from ingesting huge chunks of bully sticks that might take longer to digest, it’s necessary to keep an eye on them while they are chewing and to be careful about the size of bully sticks you offer them.

What Can Happen If My Dog Swallows A Bully Stick?

What Can Happen If My Dog Swallows A Bully Stick?

A lot OR nothing can happen if your dog swallows a bully stick.

Yes, bully sticks can be digested by your doggies, but they might experience problems if they did so.

If your dog swallowed a bully stick, it might result in difficulty breathing.

Well, what would you expect with a chunk of dog chews lodged in your throat, right?

Your dog may also suffer from a swollen throat if the bully stick gets lodged in its airway. Choking will follow until your dog can barely breathe.

And if I’m being completely honest, it can also lead to your fur buddy’s death.

I KNOW! That’s how dangerous swallowing bully sticks can be.

But this is hardly always the case.

Most times, dogs swallow a bully stick and nothing bad happens.

They tend to happen when the bully stick is already too small to cause any trouble.

Nonetheless, better be safe than sorry so keep your eyes on your doggies.

What To Do If My Dog Swallowed A Bully Stick?

On the occasion that your dog has managed to swallow a bully stick, follow these steps on what to do:

Examine the Doggy’s Mouth

Is the bully stick lodged in the dog’s throat? If yes, it will block its airway.

Do not try to remove it with your fingers or a tool like a tweezer as you might accidentally worsen the situation.

You should send your dog to an emergency vet in this case.

Perform the Heimlich Method

Assuming that your dog is choking violently, time is of the essence.

Before sending it to the vet, you may have to perform the Heimlich maneuver on your dog.

The way to do it is similar to how you would use it on a human.

I suggest getting yourself acquainted with the method through this video:

Keep More Bully Sticks Away From Your Dog

It won’t help if your dog has easy access to the bully sticks.

Always store them in containers and out of reach of your dog, and small children if I may add.

Ring Up the Vet

Calling your vet won’t be necessary if the bully stick was small. 

But if your dog has swallowed a bigger size, you gotta ring your vet up and tell them what happened. 

This is to avoid complications that you definitely won’t want your dog to go through.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Swallowing A Bully Stick?

I think the most basic thing you can do to prevent your dog from swallowing a bully stick is to remain watchful.

You have to supervise your dog when it’s enjoying a bully stick.

This way, you can easily jump into action if your dog is about to swallow the bully stick.

So owners give their dogs a bully stick every day, which naturally increases the risks (easily mitigated as long as you keep an eye out).

Plus, you gotta remember to replace the bully stick with a new one if it becomes a choking hazard.

Personally, I use a bully stick holder that can hold the bully stick away from your dog’s mouth when it gets too small too.

How Long Should I Let My Dog Chew On A Bully Stick?

Let your doggy enjoy chewing on a bully stick for ten minutes max.

This is enough time for him or her to relish its favorite dog chew.

You should follow this ten-minute rule to avoid unfavorable consequences to your furbaby’s health.

Chewing on a bully stick for too long will make your pup suffer from stomach aches thanks to the high amounts of protein that a bully stick has.

It might also damage your dog’s teeth and gums when taken too far.

What Can I Give My Dog Instead Of Bully Sticks?

Keep your doggies occupied with something healthy yet irresistible aside from bully sticks. 

Here are a few good ideas:

  • Buffalo ears: You can buy these crunchy dog chews from your favorite pet store
  • Carrots: It’s a staple in many homes and it doubles up as a wonderful treat for your doggies to enjoy something crunchy, and delicious!
  • Dental chews: These are specially designed chews that can help clean teeth and freshen breath

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is It Bad for Dogs to Swallow Bully Sticks?

Yes, it can be bad for your dogs to swallow a bully stick. Although bully sticks are highly digestible thanks to all the proteins, swallowing them might cause choking and gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea.

How Long Can a Dog Survive With a Blockage?

A dog can only survive for 3 to 7 days with a blockage. It may still manage to eat even with a blockage, but over a few days, it will eventually stop receiving food. If not remedied, the worst-case scenario is death. Send your dog to the vet right away if it is showing any signs.

How Will My Dog Act if It Has a Blockage?

If your dog has a blockage, it will have little to no appetite. Most likely, it will be unable to poop as well. You may also see it bowing down for no apparent reason because of the abdominal pain it is suffering from the blockage. If you try to touch it, especially in the abdomen area, it will be very sensitive and even turn aggressive.

Does a Bully Stick Replace a Meal?

A bully stick doesn’t and can’t replace a meal. It’s only a great treat for your dog to chew on since bully sticks lack nutrition which can make for a healthy meal.

What’s the Main Ingredient for Bully Sticks?

This will sound unappetizing for humans, but a bully stick’s main ingredient is the penis of a bull. To make it sound inexplicit, bully sticks are made up of beef “pizzle”.

Will a dog swallowing bully stick cause digestive issues?

A dog swallowing a bully stick may cause digestive issues, such as choking, obstruction, or gastrointestinal irritation, depending on the size of the stick and dog. To minimize risks, always supervise your dog while they chew, choose an appropriate size, and remove the bully stick when it becomes too small.

In Conclusion: Will Bully Sticks Digest?

There’s quite a lot of information in this post, but the bottom line is, bully sticks digest very easily and generally will not cause any problems for your dog if ingested.

Unless it shows signs of discomfort or other symptoms like vomiting or choking, your dog will be fine.

Here are a few more articles about bully sticks that you might like:

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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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