Deer Antlers For Dogs
Deer Antlers have recently become a very popular dog treat. This, however, has raised several questions about the benefits of them versus the dangers. Believe it or not, deer antlers for dogs are a fantastic and 100% ethical dog chew treat. As with all bones and treats, however, care and supervision are required.
Antlers vs Horns
Horns are found on animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and other grazing animals. They have a bony core that grows in size as the animal ages. The bony core is covered with a sheath of keratin (similar to our nails) and never shed.
On the other hand, antlers are found on animals like deer and elk. Their makeup is of true bone which is covered in a sort of hair called Velvet. The Velvet feeds blood (making them hot to touch), protein, vitamins, and minerals through the antlers, which helps them grow quickly.
Antlers naturally shed once a year (once the velvet is scraped off by the animal on trees and alike) which coincides with the end of the mating season before regrowing over the next 12 months. Hence, the male with the biggest antlers in mating season is usually the winning alpha as it shows how physically strong and well-nourished he is to be able to grow antlers so quickly.
Deer antlers are hard, dense, and great for heavy chewers. They are 100% organic and shed naturally in the wild. So if you're concerned about the ethics around antlers, you can rest assured, deer aren't harmed by the natural process of antler shedding.
Antlers also don’t splinter (whereas some bones do), and best of all, they last! From firsthand experience, our team has seen dogs getting months of use out of the antlers if given the correct size and density.
Benefits Of Feeding Antlers To Your Dog
1. Great Source Of Nutrients
Dogs, like humans, need to get the necessary nutrients in order to stay healthy and happy. Providing antlers for your dog to chew can provide your dog with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as help promote healthy teeth and gums. Deer antlers are a great source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and iron. These minerals are essential for your dog's skeletal and muscle health, as well as helping boost your dog's immune system and improving liver function.
Iron is important for the production of red blood cells, and deer antlers are a great source of iron. Iron helps keep your dog's red blood cells healthy and aids in the absorption of oxygen. This is especially important for active dogs who need extra energy to stay fit and healthy.
2. Good For Bones And Teeth
Deer antlers are a great source of calcium which is essential for strong bones and teeth. Calcium also helps maintain healthy blood vessels and nerves.
Other nutrients found in deer antlers include phosphorus which helps with muscle and nerve function, and is also important for healthy teeth and bones. Magnesium helps regulate the body's normal muscle and nerve functions, and zinc helps support immune function and helps heal wounds.
3. Promotes A Healthy Coat
Deer antlers also provide your dog with essential fatty acids, which are great for skin and coat health. This can help keep your dog's coat looking healthy and shiny.
4. 100% Natural And Ethical
Antlers are also completely natural with no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives, low in calories (as opposed to things such as pigs' ears) and are odourless (no more smelly bones hanging around the yard!).
5. Great For Dental Hygiene
We know that feeding dogs bones are a great way to stay on top of their dental hygiene, but so are deer antlers. When given correctly, antlers are also a natural way to help keep on top of your dog's dental hygiene by scraping the tartar back on their teeth. And they’re long-lasting, not a 5-minute treat!
6. Long-Lasting Entertainment
Dogs in general love to chew, whether it’s to release frustration, boredom, or just because they’re happy doing so, you may find your dog chewing on sticks, a toy or even a pair of your shoes. If this is the case, give them something nutritious to chew on instead!
Heavy chewing dogs such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Staffy’s, often require super dense antlers for them to last.
Are Deer Antlers Safe For Dogs?
As with any dog chew treats, we need to be mindful of the potential dangers they can cause. Antlers, just like bones, are really hard and if not appropriately monitored there is a chance a tooth breakage can occur.
Here are some tips to ensure your dog can chew their antler safely:
- Choose the appropriate size for your dog. If they are too small it can more likely cause cracked teeth from biting down too hard and can be a cause for concern for choking.
- If your dog ‘goes to town’ on the antler the first time, make sure the session is kept short but give it back after 15 minutes or so and repeat until the dog calms down when given it. This will teach your dog that this treat will keep coming and that they don’t need to eat it all at once.
- Monitor your dog with the antler, especially in the first few instances.
- Only allow an inch of antler to be consumed each sitting (usually once a day) to give their jaw a break.
As with most things, common sense is the most important factor. If your dog is old or bites extremely hard, go with marrow bones for dogs or dog brisket bones which are a bit softer. Puppies can also chew antlers but need a softer density.