Are Elk Antlers For Dogs A Good Chew Toy?

Today I started wondering “What About Elk Antlers For Dogs?”  You might ask why are you thinking about elk antlers for dogs?  Well, about a month ago I wrote a short blog post asking the question Are Deer Antlers For Dogs A Good Chew Toy?  Check out the link if you missed the story.  Up until recently I had heard lots of good things about antlers for dogs, but not long ago I had been made aware of some side effects from antlers as a chew toy and I was told by our guide dog school that “We do not recommend antlers as a chew toy/supplement.”

Reindeer Antlers For Dogs

Reindeer Antlers For Dogs – Apache Christmas!

Since I had not ever purchased deer antlers for my dogs I figured it was not a big deal (being told that we could not give our dogs antlers).  However, I wanted to let everyone here on the blog know that there was a concern and I was hoping to hear your feed back thus I wrote the initial post.  Lucky for me we have an active audience that responded to our deer antlers blog post and left me some wonderful comments, answers, emails, and additional questions.

Here are bits of feedback we received from readers:

“I have had no problem and also purchase for my sons pup who also has no problems.” –Cheryl

“GDD where I am raising my puppy from right now, says they are fine for the dogs and they are great chew toys.” –Peggy

‘My dogs love the antler chews, however you have to be very careful about the ones you buy.” –Janice

“I just read your “deer antler” info and I am wondering if the elk antlers I have been giving my dogs are safe? THEY SIMPLE LOVE THEM AND I HAVE NOT NOTICED ANY SIDE EFFECTS. ” –JoAnna

After reading through comments and several emails I received after posting my deer antlers for dogs blog post I began to see a common theme.  First, everyone who responded had mostly positive things to say about the antlers they purchased for their dogs.  Second, it seemed that the most important point was to make sure you purchased your antler chews from a reputable source.  So perhaps down the line I will buy antlers for my dogs, but I will be sure to do research to find high quality antlers.

What About Elk Antlers For Dogs?

A second question that came to light was what about elk antlers for dogs? are they potentially unsafe as well?  Since I have never purchased any kind of antler for my dogs I wasn’t too sure.  I went back to the original emails I received and conducted a little bit of internet research.

As someone who has not purchased, but only heard and researched antlers for dogs it seems to me that the worries from our deer antlers for dogs blog article are the same for all antler chews for dogs (deer, elk, moose, etc).  According to our findings the majority have found antlers to be a great chew for their dogs as long as you get your dog the right size and purchase a high quality antler product from a reliable source.

Here’s a nice thread on Elk Antler Chews:  http://www.dogforums.com/dog-food-forum/100618-elk-antler-chews.html.  One person even mentions that his dogs love Elk Antlers even more than they love the Deer Antlers (which is a lot)!

I went ahead and dug even deeper into the antler for dogs market and found many different sizes and variations including deer antlers for dogs, elk antlers for dogs, reindeer antlers for dogs, and moose antlers for dogs.  Here’s a short list of some of the antler products you can purchase from Amazon.com (Below are the highest rated by average customer reviews on Amazon).

  • Antlers For Dogs (affiliate link)- Both Deer and Antler Chews.  Antler chews are natural, healthy, odor-free and long-lasting chew toys that will help keep your dog busy and out of trouble and will help keep his teeth clean. Our antler dog chews come right out of nature from North American deer and elk and are completely unprocessed!…[Read More]
  • Elk Antlers For Dogs (affiliate link) - Our Antler Chews are 100-percent naturally shed and foraged by hand from Colorado. No animal was harmed in the making of our antler chews…[Read More]
  • Moose Antlers For Dogs (affiliate link) - Our Antler Chews are 100% naturally shed and foraged by hand from the woods in Maine and New Hampshire USA. Our Antlers are foraged, pressure washed, and cutup…[Read More]
  • Reindeer Antlers For Dogs (affiliate link) – So you may have already guessed, but the commonly searched Reindeer Antlers For Dogs refers to the doggy costume you usually see around Christmas (check out the picture of Apache above).  We got Apache his costume from Target, but you can just as easily order Reindeer antlers for you dog through Amazon.

After researching, feedback from friends and family, and finally from reader comments here on the blog I feel much more comfortable about purchasing antlers for my dogs.  Although its something I cannot give to any of my guide dog puppies in training I may try letting my own pet dogs try the antler chews.  If my 2 boys do try the antlers for dogs I’ll make sure to report back to you and give a thorough review telling exactly what we thought about the product.

I know a lot of you have already chimed in through last months article on deer antlers for dogs.  However, now that the new year is upon us and many may have received antlers for our dogs as Christmas gifts what kind of experiences have you had with elk antlers for dogs?   How about any of the other aforementioned antler for dog products?  We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.

Comments

  1. says

    Hey all! This comment arrives a bit late, but I just found the site and wanted to chime in. I am the owner of Mountain Dog Chews (www.mountaindogchews.com), a boutique distributor of Grade A+ elk antler chews. Although we are new on the scene, I’ve spent my life with dogs and antlers by virtue of my interests in the great outdoors.

    By FAR, I prefer elk antler over any over species of cervids (whitetail deer, mule deer, red stag, etc.), as the antler material offers optimal density — which makes for a chew that is durable, but also more safe. Elk chews actually are LESS dense than other antler chews as its outer-structure / marrow ratio is much lower. By contrast, most deer antlers are incredibly hard throughout (think jawbreaker hard), while lacking much in the way of core marrow. I have found that such other antler offerings carry too high a risk of causing slab fractures (Ouch! I can’t imagine the pain of a broken tooth…) for me to feel comfortable offering them to our dog, much less endorsing them to the market through Mountain Dog Chews. Too, although all antlers are less likely to splinter as compared to cooked meat bones, elk (and moose, also) chews can be virtually worry-free from splintering (if processed correctly and sized appropriately), while deer antlers may readily snap or crack when at the mercy of a voracious chewer – to me, personally, it’s an an apples to oranges comparison.

    If you’ve indulged me this far, I’ll point out one other thing (well, a couple of related things) to keep in mind when considering ANY antler chew from ANY brand/store… First, (until I saw shenanigans firsthand, I had assumed the following would be a GIVEN in conducting business (unfortunately it’s not, and it’s a huge issue)) make sure you know what you’re buying! That is, there is rampant misinformation in this particular market – it’s audacious, in fact. By analogy, if one was a seller of sacks of “dog food,” generically stated, I could find myself purchasing anything from horse meat to top-shelf, small-batched organic kibble that rivals what I, myself, eat for dinner! Frankly, folks who are tossing chalk white low-grade antlers in a bag/box and simply stamping them “antlers for dogs” are doing a grave dis-service to the pet industry. …Namely owing to:

    (i) safety issues associated with passing off weathered white, often-cracked, Grade B/C/D shed antlers as suitable, when in fact such chews are prone to splintering, devoid of the same nutritional benefits found in fresh, brown Grade A+/A chews, and, in a worst case scenario, a hazard to our pups. More to this in pt (ii); however, the takeaway is: do not settle for junk. Awhile ago, I ran into a gent who told me that he sold “antlers” and as “antlers are antlers, what you get is what you get…” There was no care or differentiation as between deer v. elk, and certainly no concern regarding antler grade. We all should expect more, generally speaking.

    and…

    (ii) a general lack of knowledge as to the commodity aspects of the shed antler market (from which antler chews are derived). In a nutshell, there is a market for every type of antler, and within each market, there exists a somewhat subjective (albeit time-proven) “grading” system. As a rule of thumb, chews made from deer sheds are significantly less costly (to the manufacturer, note) than elk antler chews. Moreover, with respect to grading, the lower the grade, the significantly less costly (again, to the manufacturer, note). For sake of example, consider the following grading scale (used w/r/t elk sheds):

    Grade A+: I would wager that less than 5% of ALL antlers could meet these criteria. This grade of antler historically was reserved for craft and artisan use (chandeliers, premium furnishings, etc.), as these antlers are THE cream of the crop, hand-selected, fresh, recently-dropped brown antler (local foliage may affect the color and weight a bit, but these are the BEST). These are the only grade of antler we use, and suffice it to say that the value of such antlers greatly exceeds the value of 99%+ of each year’s stock allocated to antler dog chews. As for dog chews, our mandate for only Grade A+ results in a chew with the most aroma (insanely attractive to your dog, but not noticeable to humans), and the highest available moisture content (which makes such chews extremely palatable to all sizes and ages of dogs). As a supplier, this unfortunately means that when we hand-select, say, 20,000lbs for our brand, our actual per-pound yield is a pittance of our competitors’. For the consumer, however, our “Mammoth Chews” often top two pounds, whereas a “Jumbo,” “Monster” or “XL” chew from others will be half-price, but only a few ounces and nary the size (honestly, for better or worse, we are selling “small” antler chews that are priced the same, but rival brand “Z’s” “extra-large” chewz – wow). The Mountain Dog Chews brand admittedly isn’t for everyone; however, we confidently contend that we offer the best that money can buy, and I’ll stand behind that. As far as we can assess, we are the SOLE brand committing (and paying top dollar for) this Grade A+ caliber of product for dog chews. Time will tell as to whether you and the markets will recognize our investment. Hypothetical financials: Naked acquisition cost to the brand = ~$20+/pound. Average yield = ~2 pieces per pound. Average retail price per chew = ~$14. Average gross margin = ~$8/pound.

    Grade A: These chews are derived from fresh, brown antler sheds, and represent the top ~10 – 15% of antlers each year. Essentially, only quality, current-year sheds will make up these chews. Furthermore, they are, but for our Grade A+ classification noted above, among the best of the best – and such chews should represent the minimum benchmark for your expectations when purchasing antler chews. Currently, I HONESTLY know of only two other suppliers in America that will give you true Grade A antler chews (we are not affiliated with either). So, if you want antler chews that actually are derived from current-year sheds and that contain the beneficial minerals touted, then demand that your supplier or retailer give a representation as to grade quality (if not our A+, then at least A). Hypothetical financials: Naked acquisition cost to the brand = ~$15/pound. Average yield = ~2.5 pieces per pound. Average retail price per chew = ~$12. Average gross margin = ~$15/pound.

    Grade B: Grade B currently constitutes the bulk of the so-called “high end” antler chew brands you’ll find online, etc. And, friends, that is not saying much (notwithstanding that we have two lower tiers yet to discuss!). If you have attended any major U.S. pet industry trade show within the past twelve months, Grade B represents, with a single exception, the antler chews exhibited. Grade B is commonly known as “hard white” within our shed hunting community. These antlers typically are one or two years old, and most likely will be significantly dried out, bleached white from weather exposure, and usually will have some degree of rodent chewing (ground squirrels, marmots, etc.) on portions thereof. They don’t call these “hard whites” without reason…! The largest, entrenched distributors in the pet industry peddle thousands of pounds each day, unfortunately, thanks to mis-information and good marketing… Will your dog care? Probably. Should WE care? Undoubtedly. Hypothetical financials: Naked acquisition cost to the brand = ~$10/pound. Average yield = ~3.5 pieces per pound. Average retail price per chew = ~$10. Average gross margin = ~$25/pound.

    Grades C and D: We’ll lump these two categories together, as even under the best of circumstances, these are (quote me!)… J – U – N – K. Please, treat your dog with a pig ear or a bully stick rather than opting for these lowest-grade antler chews. For your dog’s safety and health, if Grade A+ or A brown antler chews don’t suit your budget, don’t waste your money, when other good alternatives are available. These sub-prime Grades of chews are easily recognizable, and unfortunately can be found under a couple of established brands TODAY on the shelves of one the largest big-box pet retailers, as well as, to my personal disappointment as an authentic sportsman, on the shelves of one of America’s largest retailers of fly-fishing tackle, outdoors clothing and other “quality” gear… These sub-prime Grades of antler chews are comprised of antlers that have had (best case) several seasons of sun, wind and rodent exposure and/or (more typically) many years of sun-baking such that one may actually scratch off from surfaces white powder(!), and in any event have lost enough moisture such that you will notice cracking within the crystalline structure of the antler if you look closely (note: often you needn’t inspect closely, as the chew will more resemble a small piece of weathered coral than a wholesome best-in-class dog treat). These sub-prime Grades will easily crumble and splinter, and I can’t imagine that any self-respecting dog lover would knowingly provide this type of chew to his or her pup or support in any manner the folks perpetuating said brands’ acceptance. Again, expect more (much more)! Hypothetical financials: Naked acquisition cost to the brand = ~$5/pound. Average yield = ~4.5 pieces per pound. Average retail price per chew = ~$8. Average gross margin = ~$31/pound. (Yikes, it’s good to be a bottom feeder, eh?!?)

    So, there you have it – our $0.02! Given the above, it is CRITICAL that people (whether at the consumer-level or the big-box-retailer-level) demand to know what they are getting – AND to make sure they are getting what they have paid for in terms of value and quality / product integrity and safety (…and without regard solely to profits – as anything worth doing is worth doing only with excellence).

    Best regards,
    Corey
    Founder, MountainDogChews.com
    Questions? Bark at me: topdog@mountaindogchews.com

  2. says

    Love the Elk antlers we got 2 weeks ago. Our 2 Britts LOVE them. They are always trading which one has which chew. They are lasting, and it was well worth the $8.00 each. I did get them from our favorite dog store Woof. So I know the owner will only sell what she feels is safe for her fur kiddos.

  3. says

    Antlers are one of the only chews I deem safe for my dogs, however they are definately a danger to my health when I step on one of them in the middle of the floor at night. Most painful thing in the world, I swear! I get Jumbo Elk Antlers for my 2 English Mastiffs, they seem to last much longer than white tail or moose antlers.

    • says

      Yes! We’ve got plenty of dog toys lying around the house that can be a danger to our health. Thanks for sharing your experience with elk antlers for dogs.

  4. MFK says

    I have a 3 year old mutt and I have been given her sliced Elk bone for a year or so and she fractured a tooth. I will never use them again. They are american made I know for sure my boss gets them from New England and slices them himself. Learn from my mistake.

    • says

      Thanks for letting us know about your experience with the sliced Elk bone. I hope your dog is doing better after fracturing his tooth.

  5. sue forrest says

    I just bought our lab elk antler and he loves he we have had no issue with him its been better the raw hides we had been buying for him in worry he would swallow it since he is 8 months old and he was eating 6 of them a week almost due to his chewing and he love his antler I would have to say make sure you are buying the right size for you dog they have diff sizes of them and they can be expensive I paid 20 bucks for a med size one at a local pet store just make sure with everything you buy for your dog or puppy that you are there to supervise what he is doing. The only problem I’m having any advice would be great are what to get him for fun puppy toys right now all we seem to see to work is the kong toy but he will only play with it if we stuff it with food for him witch isnt a problem just going threw lots of bananas for him anyone have any good toys out that I have spent 200 bucks on toys the last month for him right now his antler is working but I’m sure soon he will be board with it.

    Thanks sue.

    • says

      Hi Sue,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with elk antlers with your dogs. Most dog toys are not too durable and we always keep a close eye on our dogs and pups when they are playing with any toy. KONG is one of our favorites too.

      Thanks,
      Colby

  6. says

    There is definitely a lot of good and bad antlers for dogs out there, and the market is getting increasingly flooded with imports. I started Blue Ridge Dog Chews after seeing how my teacup poodle, Filo, played with a deer antler rack my son brought home. We only source deer and elk from within the US, and moose from both the US and Canada.

    We tend to find dogs have a preference because of the difference in taste. Filo originally started off on elk chews, but increasingly she prefers the moose, which is fine with me because they last longer. We are also using antler to make rope and pull toys too.

    I chuckled when I read about stepping on an antler in the dark….done that too, got the t-shirt and sore foot :)

    If you don’t mind a shameless plug for our business, our website is http://www.BlueRidgeDogChews.com and we are happy to answer any questions your readers may have.

  7. Tessa says

    Ive been given antlers to my dogs( I have 2 bulldogs) for a while..They LOVE it I bought them new ones 2 days ago (Thursday) and they have chewed one down to about half (an XL one) now today (Saturday) one of my babies had a chalky white stool.. Is it related to him chewing a lot on his antler? Thanks :)

    • says

      Hi Tessa,

      I’ve seen the same thing when my dogs have chewed on bones for extended time. I’m guessing that yes it’s probably from the antlers, but if you’re concerned it’s always best to check with your vet.

      Take care,
      Colby

  8. Margo Sloan says

    I have three Chow Chows. Two males one 42.5 lbs., 14 months old, second 52 lbs. 6/8 years old rescue and a tiny female 39 lbs. 8 years old. Our organization is Northwest Chow rescue. What size antlers would you recommend? I want to order one for each of them. All three are rescues and the 6/8 year old is being flown this week from Memphis to Eugene, Oregon. He was 4 hours from being euthanized when a girl (a saint) in Memphis bailed him out. He is HW positive, and we plan to begin treatment next week as soon as he is evaluated.
    Thanks,
    Margho

    • says

      Hi Margo,

      I’m definitely not an expert here on antlers for dogs, but I can tell you what we’ve ordered in the past. We have a 50 lb and 70 lb Lab and also a 55 lb Aussie mix. We order the largest antlers they have in stock. In the past if the antlers have been too large we just cut them down into smaller pieces. My main fear is that if we order something too small for our dogs there is the possibility of them swallowing and choking.

      Hopefully that helps.

      Take care,
      Colby

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