Bully Sticks vs. Rawhide: Is Your Choice Safe for Your Dog?

Black and white puppy

Bully Sticks vs. Rawhide

Dogs love to chew on things. If you’ve ever had a favorite pair of leather shoes go missing around Fido, you probably learned this pretty quickly they weren’t safe for dogs. Or from them! Bully Sticks, Rawhide bones and even your furniture or baseboards, dogs have always needed something to munch on and stay entertained.

For a long time, dog owners have solved the chewing problem with rawhide chew toys. But now that we have more options to choose from, I think it’s a good time to reevaluate what the best choice that is safe for dogs.

I recently heard a story from a client about how her dog reacted to rawhide chew treats. She had been having trouble with her German Shepherd chewing on everything while she was at work, and when I say everything, I mean everything. That dog destroyed shoes that cost hundreds of dollars, furniture that had survived for generations—really anything he could get his paws on. To say the very least, my client had had it.

Since she had never owned a dog before, she asked her friends who had experience with bigger dogs. It seemed that the consensus was to give her pup a rawhide chew toy while she was away.

Simple enough.

She bought a few rawhides at her local pet store and gave one to her German Shepherd when she left in the morning thinking that was that. In fact, when she got home, the difference was almost miraculous. Nothing destroyed or demolished. No pieces of cloth or wood or leather to pick up.

But after about a week or two, what she saw when she came home one day showed that it was all too good to be true.

Her dog had been sick throughout the house.

It seemed that he had tried to ingest part of the rawhide, and when that didn’t agree with his stomach, his body tried to expel it…repeatedly.

If anything, this episode demonstrates the need to revisit our attitude toward dog chew treats and what actually is safe for dogs. Now that there are multiple kinds of chews that are made from the beef of the cow rather than the hide, like Bully Sticks, is rawhide the best choice?

Let’s compare them:

Which Will Your Dog Like Better?

Most dogs usually love chewing on rawhide. They come in a lot of different flavors, too, like chicken, beef, and duck, to name a few. One of the best things about rawhide is how well it keeps dogs occupied. If your dog takes to them, they will provide hours and hours of entertainment, which is great if you don’t have someone to stay home with them.

On the other hand, dogs also really, really like Bully Sticks. Like rawhide, Bully Sticks also come in many different flavors and provide hours of entertainment.

So how do you choose between the two? Let’s take a look at some safety concerns.

Are Rawhides and Bully Sticks Safe for Dogs?

If the above story is any indication, rawhide chews are not always great for dog health or comfort. It’s likely that when my client’s dog swallowed a piece of his rawhide, it became lodged in his esophagus, causing him to vomit. After doing a little research, it seems that this is a common problem with rawhides—when they break off, the pieces of rawhide can be choking hazards or even get stuck in the digestive tract. If left untreated, the end result could be expensive surgery or even death.

Because they are made from 100% digestible beef, Bully Sticks do not pose any of these risks to your dog.

If you need to give your dog something to chew on, consider giving him a Bully Stick rather than a rawhide bone. The least we can do for our dogs is provide them with safe, healthy entertainment.