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Dogs may love bully sticks, but some of us humans have some issues with them. That’s where bully stick holders come in.
The Problem with Bully Sticks
Too often, a dog will decide to swallow a bully stick whole hog because… why not! Bull penises (yes, that’s what bully sticks are) are delicious (if you’re a dog) and downing one in a single gulp is a good way to make sure that no one is going to take it from you.
Of course, some dogs will simply eat anything. I had a client whose dog swallowed a tug rope, and when they took x-rays, they found he was storing two whole bully sticks in his stomach as well.
All of this is to say that we sometimes need to be clever about what we give dogs to gnaw on. You don’t have to completely deprive your pup of the joy of chewing, but it sure would be nice to make shoving half your arm down your dog’s throat a past time of yesteryear.
To be sure, the bully stick problem doesn’t only belong to those with jaws of steel. Even those of us with more moderate chewers often worry about what might happen when a bully stick gets gnawed down to its stubby end.
While bully sticks of all sizes may eventually be digested if they spend long enough inside of your dog, they can cause major issues if they get lodged in the intestines. They also might never reach the stomach—they can get caught in a dog’s throat, which could certainly result in choking. Scary stuff.
Lastly, there’s an issue no dog will ever appreciate: Bully sticks are expensive! Speedy chewers are doing their humans’ bank accounts no favors.
Fortunately, inventors around the world are working at developing products that can reduce the likelihood of choking and make bully sticks last longer. The result is the birth of a new pet toy category: bully stick holders. Here are some of the ones that have recently hit the market. All but one have been extensively tested out by my students at School For The Dogs.
Pros: Made by the wonderful Montana-based company WestPaw, the Qwizl slips over the bully stick like a thick rubber sleeve, making it look like a hotdog in a brightly-colored bun. It is recyclable, latex-free, BPA-and-phthalate-free, FDA compliant, and comes with a lifetime guaranty.
Cons: Most of the bully stick is covered by the toy, so much of it will simply never get chewed. That’s a bummer. Also, unless you have a bully stick that’s precisely the right size, it can be hard to get it through the hole, which is quite snug; many bully sticks are simply too thick to use.
Find on Amazon
Pros: Dogs really enjoy the mix of a toy that is both bouncy (thanks to its rubbery ends) and tasty. While the bully stick is enclosed in plastic, enough of it is exposed to make it satisfying chew-ability.
Cons: Not great for heavy chewers, who tend to be able to crack the entire thing open, sooner or later. Sometimes, especially clever dogs are able to push or pull the bully stick out of from one of the ends.
Find on Store for the Dogs
Pros: The Bully Buddy is a durable, easy-to-use, veterinarian-vetted and dog-approved device that secures bully sticks, to prevent dogs from choking on the tail-end of the treat. Bow Wow Labs also sells hand sorted and selected bully sticks that are guaranteed to fit tightly in the Bully Buddy.
You can try out the Bully Buddy and Bow Wow Labs Bully Sticks with the Bully Buddy Starter Kit, currently available to purchase on the Bow Wow Labs website.
Cons: Currently, only the Bully Buddy 1 (for dogs 10 – 25 lbs) is available for purchase. Larger sizes available for pre-order.
Find on Bully Buddy
Pros: A nice, simple design that holds a bully stick in place with a screw that clamps down on it, making it pretty hard to get at.
Cons: It’s not technically a “bully stick holder,” as the Bonehead is designed for use with a Himalayan chew. To use it with a bully stick, you need the thickest one you can find: say, something like this. Some people dislike the fact that you need to have a screwdriver on hand to put it to use; after repeated use, we’ve found the top of the screw tends to degrade.
Find on Store for the Dogs
Pros: Quite challenging for a dog to excavate the bully stick as it is only partially exposed, in the middle. The toy is also very versatile as it can also be used with a Himalayan chew, or the bottom and top pieces can be removed from the middle part and then put back together to form a little treat-dispensing ball.
Cons: It was designed for use with a Himalayan chew, as pictured; for use with most bully sticks, you need to use one (or more) of the orange extender pieces. As long as you have those in place, it works well and definitely belongs on the list of top bully stick holders.
Find on Store for the Dogs
Crowdfunded Bully Stick Holders
Pros: The Everchew has a particularly clever design in that it has a pin that goes through a bully stick in order to hold it in place at its base. This makes it pretty much impossible for a dog to dislodge the end. Learn more about the Everchew in my recent School For The Dogs Podcast interview with its inventor, Kirby Kendall.
Cons: Unfortunately, the Everchew is not yet available for sale, but you can pre-order one on Kickstarter. It can only be used with thick bully sticks that have a small hole drilled into them, which seems like too much work for some dog owners. Fortunately, you’ll be able to buy pre-drilled bully sticks along with the holder, and it isn’t difficult to drill a hole yourself if you have a drill and a small drill bit.
Find on Kickstarter