Fighting smelly bullies
March 12, 2014 8:59 PM   Subscribe

What are less stench-inducing alternatives to bully sticks?

Our pug puppy loves the bully sticks. But they smell absolutely foul. Like I'm gagging on a spoon-level disgusting. What are alternatives to bully sticks that will captivate our puppy in the same way, without being so putrid?

We've tried rawhide toys (those things that look like rawhide Life Savers, that are put on a Hellraiser-like bone) but our puppy grew bored with them. Maybe he loves the bully stink. Please hope us, Internets!
posted by Blazecock Pileon to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Our dog also loves pig ears, and they don't smell nearly as bad (especially the smoked ones).
posted by oneirodynia at 9:21 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

"also loves pig ears as much as bully sticks" I mean. She also doesn't roll all over the pig ears like she does the bully sticks, which is a win.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:23 PM on March 12, 2014

Not all bully sticks smell foul. The ones I used to buy at my local fancy pet store didn't really smell like anything (but I recently bought some from Target and oh god they smelled like fermented urine). So I think buying higher-quality ones might help. The ones from Trader Joe's also smell ok.

Beyond that, for the longest time when my dog was a puppy, the only thing that he wanted to chew were actual bones. Marrow bones, beef knuckles. You can buy them either smoked or raw. The raw ones don't smell great; the smoked ones smell ... smoked.
posted by lunasol at 9:25 PM on March 12, 2014

Pig ears don't have the bully stick smell, but they are way more disgusting when you step on a squishy one on the floor in the middle of the night, or find one tucked under the covers in your bed!

My dog likes deer or elk antlers, which have no smell at all and have the bonus of never getting sticky or squishy, and not splintering like most bones can. There are also odor-free bully sticks, like lunasol mentioned, and other offal treats like beef trachea, bladder, or "gullet" which have the chewiness without as much smell.
posted by assenav at 9:35 PM on March 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

You can buy less-smell bully sticks, but they're still less smell and not no smell. At some level smoked penis just doesn't smell great to humans. They're very tolerable though; if biscotti doesn't see this and post you might memail her to ask what we get.

Bones aren't great for teeth over the long haul. Lots of wear and cracking and whatnot. Also antlers. Nina got slab fractures on a couple of either molars or carnassials from chewing on an antler.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:36 PM on March 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not useful for puppy teeth, but down the line once his adult teeth come in (and you will sing praises to the heavens, because puppy teeth are THE WORST), you can try both elk antlers (taken from sheds) or a Himalayan dog chew which is a dried and very hard cheese. Both are expensive, but I doubt a pug could make a very big dent in either. Huskies, not so much.

Also, a lot of sources advise that it's not good to give puppies chew treats/toys that are harder than puppy teeth. Cow bones aren't a great idea for puppies. I would second pig ears for sure, they don't smell nearly as bad and should last a long time for your pup. Avoid cow hooves, though, they're worse than bully sticks (unless you like that cow-pasture smell).
posted by mireille at 9:41 PM on March 12, 2014

I've never thought that the bully sticks smelled too bad (though I've only ever gotten the ones from Trader Joe's), just kind of animal-ish, but man...every pig ear we've gotten has been absolutely rank.

For chewing on, my dog LOVES his white bone pig femur (which I got at the bin in PetSmart for about 8 bucks I think). It has lasted maybe a year so far and he chews on it every day. It has never had any discernible odor.

He got an aorta once (somehow this is grosser to me than chomping on a cow penis) that he really liked--had a similar texture to the bully stick but wasn't as, erm, greasy. It also didn't have a smell.

He's not generally had much long-term interest in inorganic gnawing toys except for one type--the ultra hard plastic nylabones with the nubby bits (winners have been the ones shaped like dinosaurs and the dark yellow bone ones). He leaves the softer nylabones alone.
posted by phunniemee at 9:41 PM on March 12, 2014

We buy ours from Best Bully Sticks and they're not horrible. They even have some Odor Free Bully Sticks which might be worth an experiment.

They're much higher quality than what pet stores offer. If you sign up for their email they send out 8-10% off coupons fairly frequently.
posted by barnone at 10:16 PM on March 12, 2014

I think we also get ours from Best Bully Sticks but would not swear to it
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:29 PM on March 12, 2014

We give our chocolate lab elk antlers... no smell, they come in all sizes, and if he is not immediately interested, you can try applying a bit of worcestershire sauce to it. Works like a charm, and once they start digging out the marrow of the antler, they seem to love it.

ETA: Sometimes they come split lengthwise to expose the marrow, this might be a better choice to start as the marrow seems to be the bit they like
posted by torisaur at 6:47 AM on March 13, 2014

Buffalo horns seem to be as appealing as cow hoofs (at least to my dog) but they last a lot longer and are not smelly at all.
posted by The otter lady at 11:11 AM on March 13, 2014

Stay away from rawhide. My wife has plenty of horror stories from work about that. Especially with a pug or any flat face. We used to get bully sticks for our bulldogs until they grew tired of them, so if someone's wanting to chew we give 'em a Kong with treats inside.
posted by azpenguin at 11:32 AM on March 13, 2014

Seconding elk antlers, they are fantastic.
posted by SpookyFish at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2014

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