Bully sticks – a source of calories and bacteria

Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the University of Guelph have some news for you about bully sticks.

Photo courtesy of Tufts University

Photo courtesy of Tufts University

The research team analysed the treats for caloric density and bacterial contamination and they asked owners about their knowledge of the treats through a survey.

The sample size in the study was 26 bully sticks, purchased from different places in the United States and Canada.

The bully sticks contained between nine and 22 calories per inch, meaning that the average sized stick packed 88 calories or 9 percent of the daily caloric requirements of a 5o pound (22.7 kg) dog or 30 percent of the requirement for a 10 pound (4.5 kg) dog.

‘With obesity in pets on the rise, it is important for pet owners to factor in not only their dog’s food, but also treats and table food,’ said Lisa M Freeman, Professor of Nutrition.

The 26 treats were also tested for bacterial contamination.  One (4%) was contaminated with Clostridium difficile, one (4%) contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and seven (27%) were contaminated with Escherichia coli including one sample that was resistant to treatment with tetracycline.

Although the sample size in this project was small, the researchers advise all pet owners to wash their hands after touching treats.  The risk could be higher for the very young, elderly, pregnant or immuno-compromised dog owners.  They acknowledge that research on a larger sample size is also needed.

The survey portion of the study showed that many dog owners are not aware of the ingredients in their dog’s treats, with many demonstrating ignorance of the definition of a ‘by-product.’

The results of the study have been published in the January 2013 issue of the Canadian Veterinary Journal.

Source:  Tufts Now media statement

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