Bully sticks What are their Nutritional value and composition?

The miracle bully stick dog treat. What are the actual nutritional benefits?

Spoiler.  VERY few science articles or accurate consumer blogs have provided the answer to this.  Instead, universities seem to be more interested In being financially rewarded in discrediting natural dog treats and food, because the is a much larger margins to be made by billion dollar companies on composite grain based treats.

HOWEVER, knowing what bully or beef pizzle sticks are made of helps to answer most of your questions. Everyone knows that they are one of the greatest natural single ingredient long chewing treats besides dog bones.  That they provide a long occupation for dogs, while providing exceptional entertainment and a primal connection to their recent past (wolf ancestors).

But it turns out that these single ingredient treats DON’T NEED preservative and are an exceptionally big provider of quality meat protein.

Before we give their estimated nutrition propositions, it’s worth remembering that commercial dog food is mostly plant matter (60 % plus with more carbs (sugars, than protein),  then up to 30-40% meat and offal (often of questionable quality and sources, and often offal not fit for human consumption).

So its meat that provides the BULK of the PROTEIN for your dog. The remaining macro component is fat that typically varies between 5 to 10%  but can be as high as 20%.

The reason for these Long lasting treats for dogs or bully sticks, or bull’s penis (it is what it is), is they are essentially 100% single ingredient muscle meat.  That means NO carbs or filler.  And in fact, the bulk of the treat is PROTEIN.

We will concentrate on bull’s bullies (bully sticks) because globally that is the major MEAT stick used. It’s true that any animal can provide a bully stick, the farmed nature of such a big beast often provides the biggest in single stick, and total amount available as dog treats.

A typical analysis of a bully stick might look like:

  • Protein – up to 80%
  • Water – around 10%
  • Fat around 7%
  • Crude fibre – less than 1%
  • Calories approximately 400 per 100g of treat.
  • Main trace elements potassium 0.08% Calcium 0.02%, phosphorous 0.03%


Considering that bully sticks are beef muscle meat, it should not be surprising that their nutrition profile is very similar to beef jerky.  Differences occur because of breed of cow, drying method, and cut of meat.  For instance, much of the beef jerky sold globally is actually cow trachea tube slit and flattened. It has a more fibrous texture than leg or steak versions of beef jerky.

If your dog loves beef that it gets in kibble or wet food cans, then it will absolutely love bully sticks.

The reason that bully sticks are so expensive in many places, is that they are very much a finite resource with strong competition for purchase by dog owners.  Some countries in Asia also use them for human consumption.

Now let’s review the nutrition of specific ingredient categories


Bully sticks can have up to 70-90% protein (depending on species of cow and water content.  Whereas Beef jerky only has up to 60% protein (when water is extracted down to about 10%). But the beef jerky in commercial dog food is often MDM (mechanically deboned meat).  It isn’t the fine cut of meat, and is not all in one piece.

You will note that many grains only have 10-20% protein (at 10% water) so that is why expensive meat is added to commercial dog food at all – to reach the total 18% minimum aafco requirement.

If your dog is active, or growing, or has healthy issues, or a big coat etc, they can really do with a protein boost that bully sticks are great at providing!


Surprisingly bully sticks are often low in fat  around 1-5%.  But be aware that sometimes surface fat clumps can appear on the outside that you can easily cut off.

People might want low fat treats only, but 10-15% fat for a dog treat isn’t considered excessive by many.  The saturated fat in meat for dog treats helps transport the fat soluble vitamins and is an excellent species specific energy.  That means that when protein and fat are available for your dog in bully sticks, the fat can be used for energy first, and protein provides the essential amino acids that your dog needs BEFORE the protein is then used for energy purposes.


It is known that moisture makes treats soft and often more palatable for dogs.  But high levels of moisture can make this treat susceptible to mold.  It also means that if you are buying bully sticks by weight, you want get as much of the great protein.  The drying method typically provides water at around 10-15% and ensures the stick stays hard, and a real chewing challenge. Which is usually its main purpose for owners.


As said, bullies contain good levels of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, – important for dog bone health they have vitamin A and E which are oil soluble vitamins that rely on bully stick fat to transport them.

But the reality is, unless you are making your dog’s diet mainly bully sticks any mineral or vitamin is really a bonus, since you will find a stack of these added in almost every commercial dog food formulation.


While we haven’t even touched on bully sticks preoccupier treat function, or jaw exercise you can see how bully sticks are a natural single ingredient super charged version of beef jerky.

By being able to see the striations along the sticks you will know for once you are actually getting what you paid for.