Dogs may love bully sticks, but we humans often worry about what might happen when they chew it down to its tiny end. While they may eventually be digested, they also might never reach the stomach; it's possible they can become lodged in a dog's throat, which could certainly result in choking. Scary stuff! Another issue: Bully sticks aren't cheap, and they can be chewed down to nothing very quickly.
Inventors around the world are working at developing product 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 we've tried with our students:
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 for 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 it from the end.
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 is really designed for use with a Himalayan chew. To use it with a bully stick, you need the thickest one you can find. Some people dislike the fact that you need to have a screwdriver on hand to put it it to use; after repeated use, we've found the top of the screw tends to degrade.
Pros: Made by the Montana-based company Westpaw, the Qwizl slips over the bully stick like a thick rubber sleeve. 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, which means much of it will simply never get chewed, which is a bit of a waste. Also, unless you have a bully stick that is precisely the right size, it can be hard to get it into the hole; many bully sticks are simply to thick to use.
Cost: $16 (small), $20 (large)
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 really designed for use with a Himalayan chew; for use with most bully sticks, you need to use one (or more) extenders.
Cost: $37 (including one extender)
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 this School For The Dogs Podcast interview with its inventor, Kirby Kendall.
Cons: Unfortunately, The Everchew is not yet available for sale, but you can follow the Everchew folks on Facebook to get production updates. It also can only be used with thick bully sticks that have a small hole drilled into them. Kendall intends to sell these along with the bully sticks, but it isn't difficult to drill a hole yourself if you have a drill and a small drill bit.
Cost: $19The Bully Buddy
Pros: Screws tightly onto the bottom of bully sticks of all lengths and widths; leaves most of the bully stick exposed.
Cons: This is the only product in this list that we haven't tested ourselves yet but we've heard reports of some dogs managing to pull out the stick.