blond labrador retriever puppy with dog bowl in the background

Are Bully Sticks Safe for Puppies?
How to Safely Satisfy Your Puppy's Need to Chew

Are Bully Sticks Safe for Puppies?
How to Safely Satisfy Your Puppy's Need to Chew

blond labrador retriever puppy with dog bowl in the background

Whether you’re new to puppy parenting or know what to expect, you’re probably aware of how much puppies love to chew. Shoes, clothes, hand bags, furniture - you name it - in those first few months of teething, nothing seems to be off limits. During this time, setting chewing boundaries for your pup can feel like a constant battle.

Despite testing your patience, you probably also know that a puppy’s need to chew is perfectly natural and instinctual. In addition to relieving the pain and discomfort of teething, chewing helps stimulate brain function, combats boredom and strengthens your pup's teeth and jaws.

Bully sticks are one of the best chew treats you can give your puppy to help satisfy their need to munch, crunch and gnaw on things to death! Here’s why:

girl holding black and white puppy in her arms

Bully sticks promote healthy puppy growth

Bully Sticks are a healthy, highly-digestible chew treat that breaks down easily in your puppy’s stomach. Made from 100% beef protein, bully sticks are a complete source of essential amino acids which supply the building blocks her body needs to develop properly. Chewing on bully sticks will not only occupy and delight your puppy for extended periods of time, but will support the growth of her muscles, skin, coat and brain.

Bully sticks are also good for your puppy’s dental and gum health. As your puppy grows and eats different foods, you may start to see plaque build up on the base of her teeth. Chewing on bully sticks naturally removes plaque before it has a chance to stick to her teeth, thereby helping to prevent gum disease.

mom dog sizing up her puppy

What size of bully stick should I feed my puppy?

Bully Sticks are great for puppies because they are long-lasting. Bully sticks last longer than normal dog chews because they are baked at high temperatures after they are hung to dry, making them nice and hard. Bully Sticks also come in various sizes so you can feed different-sized bully sticks to your pup as he grows.

Bully Sticks typically come in 6-inch or 12-inch lengths, with thicknesses ranging from a thin 10 millimeters (mm) all the way up to extra thick sizes of 23 mm or more.

Be careful to choose sticks that fit your dog’s weight. A stick that is too big for your puppy to handle is also likely too much stick for him to consume in one sitting. Remember, overfeeding him can make him sick.

Conversely, giving too small of a stick to a larger puppy not only lessens the amount of time he will be occupied by the stick and minimizes its health benefits, but also increases the chances of him breaking off a small piece and choking on it. Swallowing a small piece of bully stick can also cause a bowel obstruction which is a serious medical issue that could require emergency care.

Bully stick feeding guidelines based on your dog's weight

Here is a simple sizing chart you can use as a guideline for feeding your puppy bully sticks based on his or her weight. We recommend starting with the smaller and thinner sticks, then introducing the 12-inch sticks once your dog reaches at least 45 pounds.

 Dog Weight 6" Thin
6" Reg
6" Thick
12" Reg
12" Thick
12" Extra Thick
< 15 lbs
15 - 30 lbs
30 - 45 lbs
45 - 60 lbs
60 - 75 lbs
75 - 90+ lbs

Also take into account your puppy’s chew strength and chewing preferences when feeding him bully sticks. If you’ve got a power chewer, you may need to consider a size up.

Watch your puppy’s calorie intake

Keep track of your puppy’s calorie intake to keep her at a healthy weight. Since bully sticks are 100% protein, they are also high in calories. You should adjust your puppy’s food intake on the days she has bully sticks to account for the extra calories and also make sure you’re giving her a variety of foods from different food groups.

As a rule of thumb, one 6-inch medium bully stick is, on average, nine calories per inch, or about 54 calories per stick. We recommend giving your dog bully sticks no more than three times a week in order to keep their diet balanced and healthy. Don’t stress if your cadence is more than that, just simply adjust their food intake on those special treat days!

woman holding golden doodle puppy in front of her

Only give your puppy high-quality bully sticks

Learn how to tell a quality bully stick from one that is not. Be on the lookout for sticks that are marked as “No Odor.” While that may be the ultimate dream for a dog parent, sticks that are marked as “No Odor” are treated with chemicals during their drying process to mask or remove the natural smell of bully sticks.

On the other hand, sticks that are marked as “Low Odor” are good to go - it just means that they have been baked or smoked during the drying process to help reduce the bully stick’s natural odor.

High-quality, premium bully sticks, like the ones Bow Wow Labs offers, are baked at high temperatures after they are hung to dry, eliminating harmful bacteria that can make your puppy’s tummy upset.

small tan dog chewing on a bully stick in a Bully Buddy bully stick holder

Give your puppy bully sticks the safe way

Be sure to use a safety device or bully stick holder when giving your dog bully sticks. Puppies are excited chewers and can chew quickly. When bully sticks get down to the last two inches or so they can become a choking hazard.

Even though bully sticks are 100% digestible, they are a choking hazard that can cause a blockage in your dog’s throat or stomach that could require an emergency visit to the vet. A safe bully stick holder will allow your puppy to reap the benefits of these healthy and delicious treats, while also giving you peace of mind that he won’t choke on the last two inches of the stick.

Related Resources

Where (in the World) Do Bully Sticks Come From and How Are They Produced?
Can Bully Sticks Make My Dog Sick? Understanding the Health Benefits and Risks of Bully Sticks
Training Your New Puppy: The Importance of Forming Good Habits in the First 16 Weeks

Photos by Berkay Gumustekin, Jametlene Reskp, Kayla Farmer, April Walker and Mike West.