My Dog Swallowed a Bully Stick – What to Do

Updated: April 11, 2019 at 7:00 am, Author: Alice

Back when I was first discovering how much dogs loved bully sticks, my dog swallowed a bully stick while I wasn’t looking. He did chew on half of it and turned it into mush, but the second I turned away, he gobbled the entire thing. While my boy did not look like he was choking, was still concerned because only half of the bully stick was softened, the rest is still solid. I was scared that he might not be able to digest or pass it through stool. I thought about dropping everything that I was doing and rushing the dog to the vet.

is a bully stick safely digestible

Fortunately in my case, the bully stick that I bought at the time was from Bully Stick Shoppe, and the products they sell are digestible even when swallowed solid by a dog. Of course, not every pet or situation is the same and I admit that I was just lucky that my pup didn’t choke on the large dried pizzle. Dogs are mostly safe and the sticks are generally digestible compared to rawhide or manufactured bone, but being digestible is irrelevant if the issue is that the dog was unable to swallow the pizzle. Most dogs will have no trouble, but can puppies have bully sticks without any risk?


Will My Puppy Be Safe Chewing a Bully Stick?


The answer is yes, but keep in mind that puppies by nature are very prone to many dangers due to being young and because they have yet to develop many crucial survival skills. Many puppies have required surgery after ingesting toys, bones, and other objects that are too large for them to pass. A bully stick is just like any other item in the sense that you want to watch what they do with it.


Fortunately, a brand new bull pizzle is much too large to fit inside a puppy’s mouth and will not be a choking hazard. What you want to watch out for are situations similar to what happened with my dog, where half of the treat was already softened by him and made possible to gobble in one go.


So what do you do if the situation happened to you? For starters, you have to make sure that the dog has indeed swallowed the stick and it’s not stuck in its throat. You’ll be able to know if the pet is choking easily – if it is, you should know that Heimlich maneuvers work on puppy as well.


If the puppy has passed out, you can even dislodge the block by pulling on its tongue (but try to avoid getting accidentally bitten in the process.) If possible, rush your dog to a vet. Or at least be proactive, contact your vet and ask to be taught some first aid techniques for your dog.


If you’re not unlucky, the puppy managed to swallow the bully sticks, but this does not mean you’re in the clear. It may be easy for a dog that swallowed bully stick to pass through via defecation, but a puppy might not be able to chew the stick into small enough pieces to make passing easy, which means it could get stuck.


If you think this may be the case, you need to do the a little bit of work and make sure if your dog needs to visit the vet. Hunker down and do the following…


Keep an Eye on the Dog’s Bowel Movements and Appetite


A dog that is having problems getting rid of a swallowed object will have noticeable changes to its appetite, drinking, and bowel movements. Monitor your dog and pay special attention to:


  • The Dog’s Mucus Membranes – you can do this by flipping his lip and taking a look at the gums. If there’s no problem, the gums should be salmon pink in color. If the gums look very pale, or white, or has become dark deep red in color, get your dog to the vet immediately.
  • The Capillary Refill Time – this is your next step if your dog’s gums are healthy pink in color. It is meant to measure blood perfusion and is done by first putting your thumb in the dog’s gum in order to apply pressure, then releasing the thumb (which will make the gum blanch) and measuring the time it takes for the healthy pink color to return. If it takes 2 seconds or less, there is no need to worry but if it is taking a lot of time, then you need to take the dog to the vet immediately.
  • Respiratory Rate – dogs naturally pant a lot during the day when the weather is hot, as it is their way of keeping cool, but if the temperature of the room is not hot enough to warrant panting (such as during nights) and your dog is continuously panting, it may be a sign of shock or pain. Again, take him to the vet.
  • Radical Change in Behavior – if you’re a responsible pet owner, you should already know your dog’s normal behavior so it should be easy to spot if it has changed radically after swallowing a bully stick. If there’s vomiting going on or the dog seems uncharacteristically lethargic for long periods of time, you owe it to your dog and your own peace of mind to err on the side of safety, take him to the vet and be prepared to tell the vet everything in order to make assessment easier. They will most likely take some x-rays of the dog’s abdomen just to be sure. At best, your dog may just be suffering a little bit of indigestion but if it’s something serious, then you’ll be saving the life of your precious pet.

So, Are Bully Sticks Safe for Puppies?

There’s no need to wonder whether they are safe or do bully sticks digest well in the stomach of a puppy (top 5 facts about bully sticks <- BTW). The above examples may seem scary but they could happen with anything from toys, other types of food, and other chew products. In fact, bully sticks are actually safer because they get soft when moistened enough. They will be easily broken down when swallowed by a puppy (as opposed to rawhide and manufactured bone, or plastic toys that cannot be broken down by a dog’s digestive system.)

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