Bully sticks dog treats – we take a look at the Choking Hazards and Digestive hazards

While any talk of pathogen issues (bad bacteria) of bully sticks is taken care of by cooking them at over 165 F internal temperature in the ovens, choking hazards and digestive issues can be an issue for some dogs, so its worth exploring what that means.

NOTE – as with any dog safety issue, we always recommend consulting your vet, to assure you if your dog is ok to eat any specific food or treat.

That said, bully sticks stand alone in many dog owners’ eyes as the perfect long lasting dog treat.

Depending on the size, age and breed of your dog – and their resulting jaw power and size of their throat … bully sticks are often the preferred treat for dogs when people want them occupied for a long time.

This is where they tend to fit into the scale of dog treat hardness:  from soft (left) to hardest (right)

Hard jerky |   bully sticks  |  Antlers  |  goat horns  |  body bones  |  large farmed animal leg bones  |  large wild animal leg bones

As you can see, we place bully sticks fairly low on the hardness scale of treats to eat.

But that doesn’t always mean the fastest dog treat to eat, on this long-lasting scale.

Bully sticks come in all sizes, as measured by length and width of the treat.  Typically, it’s the cross-sectional area of the bully stick that is most prized.  The wider the stick, the more in demand and often the more expensive.

The big bonus of the bully sticks over the treats to the right of the scale are that they are 100% single ingredient muscle MEAT.  That means high protein amounts that can be used by your dog.

Antlers can last a long time, but they are made from bone, and covered with “velvet”—a soft thin sheet of skin and blood.   So they don’t have anywhere near the nutritional value of bully sticks.

Likewise horns have a full   CORE of bone in the centre. The outside thick layer covering this bone is keratin.  While keratin is made of proteins and enzymes, it isn’t made of the protein that contains the essential amino acids that bully sticks do, that dogs must gain from their food to survive.

 I have listed bones into three categories because there is a distinct use for each and each are suited to different types of dogs.  The smaller body bones, like kangaroo ribs, or chicken necks can be eaten by most dogs, and some of these bones have meat on them, providing some nutrition, but usually they are provided to fill the dogs stomach or add calcium and phosphorus to a raw dog’s diet.  They are the safest of the bone categories.

The large animal leg bones (farmed or wild) are the main ones that when over dried have the risk of splitting and cutting into a dog.  And that is why matching type of bone, to the chewing ability of the dog is so vital.

But back to bully sticks – while they are not the hardest of the treats, they are the hardest of the 100% single ingredient meat treats.  And while not as hard as bone, they do tend to offer a lot of resistance to being broken and chewed off by dogs until they are completely saturated with saliva.  That mastication process can take a long time, and hence why they can last a long safe time.

If you are at all concerned about a particular bully stick being too hard for your dog, even the smaller ones, then you could always consider one of the Hard jerkies. In particular Kangaroo Jerky (depending on the cut) – can often be one of the hardest meat jerkies around.  Just make sure you only buy 100% single ingredient so you know what you are getting.


This is typically the least of dog owner concerns. Since dogs have to work at a thick stick a long time before it is broken off (one small bit at a time) it really presents a swallowing hazard.

And unlike bones and horns, it tends not to break into sharp pieces.  So, the last thing to look at, is digestion.  Since bully sticks are just 100% beef, and beef is highly bio-available – that means that it is highly digestible.

Sure, it’s ideal to have grain sized pieces of food in a puppy or very old dog’s stomach, so they don’t have to flood it with excess acid, most dogs will easily digest bully sticks once they reach the stomach.

Always consult a vet before using any treats or any food.