Is your dog a fan of bully sticks? Well, beware because new studies have found sodium metabisulfite in bully sticks.

Pure bully sticks are made from raw beef pizzle and water for thawing and cleaning. However, bully stick manufacturers are now adding harmful chemical preservatives to these dog treats.

As the dog owner, you are responsible for checking on lousy dog food ingredients that can harm your pup. Research the dog food company, read reviews online, and even consult with your vet or a veterinary nutritionist.

On the other hand, you must know if your dog is allergic to something. Understand if any food or ingredients can harm them. There are a lot of dog food ingredients to avoid!

But first, let's tackle what sodium metabisulfite is.

Are Bully Sticks Good for Dogs

What is Sodium Metabisulfite?

Sodium Metabisulfite is used as an antioxidant in pharmaceutical formulations. In foods, however, it is used as a preservative and disinfectant.

This chemical is a reducing agent usually added to cracker and tortilla doughs with stronger wheat flours. It is generally used to preserve baked goods, wine, dried fruit, and jams to their antioxidant capacity.

In addition, its three main functions are:

  • Antimicrobial agent
  • Antioxidant
  • Wheat flour reducing agent

Sodium Metabisulfite in Bully Sticks

Bully Bundles, a natural dog chew company, released new studies last May 13 about bully sticks formulated with a chemical preservative. And this chemical preservative is, yup, you guessed it, Sodium Metabisulfite.

The FDA deemed this chemical unsafe for meat products for animals and humans. The FDA says that sulfite preservatives should not be added to foods.

Their study found that bully sticks containing this chemical had 132-times more sulfites than products formulated without the chemical.

Bully Bundle's data revealed a dangerous side effect of bully sticks with sodium metabisulfite for dogs. This chemical destroys Thiamine or B1.

In addition, B1 or Thiamine is an essential nutrient that helps support the brain and nervous system functions. This being destroyed can lead to harmful side effects and even allergic reactions.

We aim to raise consumer awareness by highlighting how harmful chemical preservatives, especially sodium metabisulfite, are for dogs. According to the findings, sulfite preservatives destroy thiamine, an essential nutrient in the nervous system,” said Ryan Schoop, the CEO of Bully Bundles.

It would be best for your dog's safety to talk to your bully stick retailers to get reassurance that this chemical is not being added to your bully sticks.

Are Bully Sticks Good for Dogs

Other Artificial Preservatives To Avoid

You should know by now that dog foods usually use unhealthy artificial preservatives. Some of these preservatives are not approved for human consumption.

Makes you think, why are these chemicals allowed in dog foods, huh? Here are a few examples of artificial preservatives that we should avoid.

  • Propylene Glycol – Repeated exposure to this preservative can cause severe digestive health issues. In addition, it can also cause nervous system damage.
  • Ethoxyquin – In recent studies, it has been shown that this preservative can cause damage to the liver of dogs.
  • TBHQ – This chemical ingredient has been linked to stomach cancer and can damage cellular DNA. Overexposure to this chemical can poison dogs.

Is sodium metabisulfite harmful to humans?


Yes, sodium metabisulfite can also be dangerous to us. Inhalation of this chemical can irritate our lungs, causing us to cough, wheeze, and even shortness of breath.

Breathing this chemical can also irritate your nose and throat. In some cases, it can cause an allergic or asthma-type reaction.


Ingestion of pure sodium metabisulfite can irritate your stomach and intestines. Ingesting high amounts of this chemical can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, and even central nervous system depression.

The estimated fatal dose for an average adult is around 10g.

Skin and Eye Contact

Direct skin contact with this chemical can irritate the skin. This can cause redness, itching, and pain.

On the other hand, eye contact can cause irritation, pain, stinging, tearing, redness, swelling, and blindness. Beware because some of these side effects may be irreversible.

Why Do Manufacturers Use Sodium Metabisulfite?

Bully Bundle's studies found that 3 out of the 14 bully stick manufacturers are using this chemical to help reduce odors in their products.

These manufacturers want to achieve a more desirable odor in their bully sticks. These chemicals are not needed to produce low odor bully sticks with the correct practices.

They need to use fresh and safely stored raw material, do proper cleaning and trimming, and use the correct cooking times and temperatures.

Ryan Schoop also says, “They should make bully sticks from just raw beef pizzle and water. We hope raising awareness will lead to more transparent labeling and stop manufacturers from adding unnecessary preservatives.

best dog bully sticks

Are Bully Sticks Good for Dogs?

If you've just got a dog, these things might confuse you. So let's discuss what bully sticks are? And are they even suitable for dogs?

Bully sticks are easily-digestible chew treats made from all-natural 100% beef muscle. If you want a more accurate definition, bully sticks are dried bull penis sticks.

Bully sticks are an excellent option for aggressive chewers. Bully sticks can be a great healthy treat option.

It can be a much safer alternative to rawhide chews. As discussed earlier, these treats should also not contain any additives, chemicals, or preservatives.

Bully sticks can also be a great source of protein and taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that moves essential nutrients from cell to cell.

Amino acids can help maintain the dog's muscles, skin, and coat. And since bully sticks SHOULD BE free of any artificial ingredients or chemicals, they are a safe choice for dogs with allergies.

Are Bully Sticks better than Rawhide?

Bully sticks are better than Rawhide because these treats can be easily digestible. After all, it breaks down quickly.

It also does not splinter like other treats, so you don't have to worry about broken pieces that can cause internal injuries.

Bully sticks are dried naturally and are made with 100% beef. On the other hand, Rawhides are made from the inner layer of cowhides or, in some cases, even horse hides.

Rawhide can also put your dogs at risk, like getting Rawhide stuck in their esophagus. It can also damage teeth and cause other oral health problems.

You won't see these issues on bully sticks. Bully sticks have real nutritional value.

Raw Paws Pet Food Bully Sticks Review

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my dog eat a bully stick every day?

It is recommended that you give your dog bully sticks once a day. Even though bully sticks are natural and are an excellent alternative for Rawhide, you should not give them more than once per day.

The main reason is that treats should not make up more than 10$ of their daily calory intake. Taking your dog's overall diet into account is essential to avoid obesity or even diabetes in dogs.

Bully sticks can contain up to 22 calories per inch. The average 6-inch bully stick can have up to 9% of their required daily calory intake for the average 50-pound dog.

When should you remove a bully stick?

Even though dogs love bully sticks, there are certain cases where we need to take these treats away from them. My advice is to take the bully stick away when it is small.

When it's small, it becomes a choking hazard for dogs. Also, keep in mind to limit your dog to only one chew session or one bully stick per day.

As the dog owner, it is your job to monitor your pup and ensure that they're away from any harm possible.

Why do bully sticks smell?

It's no secret that bully sticks have a particular smell. Well, it's not a pleasant smell, to be exact. They can even smell like urine if not adequately dried.

Bully sticks have this natural smell because they are made from a bull's pizzle. Since these treats are natural products, manufacturers do not wash them with chemical treatments or artificial preservatives to hide the smell.

Are Bully Sticks Good for Dogs

Sodium Metabisulfite in Bully Sticks Summary

In conclusion, this is to spread awareness about harmful sodium metabisulfite in bully sticks. This is to grab every dog owner's attention to look out for artificial preservatives that can hurt our dogs.

Thanks to Bully Bundles' new research, they've found that 3 out of the 14 bully stick manufacturers are using this chemical. These companies are using it to help reduce the foul odor of their product.

How can sodium metabisulfite harm our dogs, you asked? This chemical destroys an essential nutrient that helps support the dog's brain and nervous system.

This can cause harmful side effects and allergic reactions in our dogs. As the pet owner, look out for harmful dog food ingredients. Earlier, we've also tackled dog food ingredients to avoid.

But all in all, an all-natural 100% beef bully stick is good for dogs. Bully sticks can be a good source of protein and amino acids that help maintain the dog's muscles, skin, and coat healthy.


Toby loves spending time with his dog and two cats. They are the best stress reliever and affectionate pets, especially his Belgian Malinois, Shawie. Shawie's favorite activity is running or jogging. But their go-to spot is to chill and swim around a nearby river.