“Why would my dog like antlers? They are hard and smell flavorless.” This is what a lot dog parents think when they first hear about antlers for dogs. However, dogs LVE chewing on antlers. Still confused? We were.
Here are some quick reasons dogs like antlers:
- Chewing: Antlers are long lasting and satisfy the dog’s need to chew. Whole antlers last longer than center-cut antlers (cut in half with marrow exposed).
- Highly Nutritious: High Protein, Calcium Phosphorous. Low in fat. Also include plenty of Magnesium, Sodium, Copper, Zinc and Iron. Left on the ground in the wilderness, it’s said mice and other animals consume antlers for their nutritional value.
Elk Example Nutrition:
- Safe: Events of accidents from chewing deer antlers compared to pig bones or cow bones is very low. Still, no dog should be left unattended when chewing antlers. Sharp edges can occur and may need to be sanded down.
- A Variety of Shapes, Sizes, and Texture: No two antlers are alike, your dog will enjoy the variety. Be sure to chose the right size for your dog. When it antler gets small enough to become a chocking hazard. It’s time to take it away and get them a new one.
Why people like antlers:
- Humane and sustainable: Animals aren’t harmed for their antlers. They are shed naturally each season, picked up, cleaned and ready for chewing.
- Clean: Elk and Deer antlers don’t smell or stain. Both dogs and people enjoy them.
What is the difference between Deer, Elk and Moose? Deer antlers are dense and hard. Elk antlers are softer and more spongy on the inside. Moose antlers are flat and don’t make for an idea dog chew.
If the antler has dried out and lost it’s flavor, soak it in broth, smear some canned food or even coconut oil can spark their interest again.
Don’t let your dog chew more than ½ inch per day. Too much at once can cause stomach upset. Always supervise! Antlers have had reports of causing crown fractures and large splinters can break off (although rare) and be hazardous. Other hard items to watch for; bones, hard-pressed rawhide, hard nylon bones, bully sticks. Bully horns from water buffalo can be concerning as they splinter in thick chunks.
Antlers begin as cartilage and grow fast! Faster than any other bone grows. Growing as much as an inch per day during the summer! As they grow, they are still soft, blood flows through them and are covered in velvet (a thin skin of fur). When fully grown, they begin to harden and the velvet dries and is rubbed off. In the winter the cartilage mineralizes into hard bone and then fall off.
Antlers are amazing natural structures. Scientists are studying them to unlock the secrets of fast cell regeneration and dogs are enjoying them for health and fun!