Are Deer Antlers For Dogs A Good Chew Toy?

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Over the past couple of years, we’ve been hearing rave reviews about deer antlers for dogs.

If you have a Labrador Retriever or Golden Retriever in your house then you probably run into some of the same issues we do with Dublin, our yellow lab, Stetson, our black lab, or Raven, our Golden Retriever.

Those three just love to chew up their dog toys, treats, chews, bully sticks (we like, recommend, and use bully sticks more than any other chew)…you name it, they chew it.

In fact, Stetson can chew up a 12-inch bully stick in less than 5 minutes!

Are Deer Antlers For Dogs A Good Chew Toy?
Are Deer Antlers For Dogs A Good Chew Toy?

That’s the same stick that used to take Dublin 2 weeks to polish off (now it takes him about a half-hour).

Needless to say, we’re always on the lookout for a high-quality, durable, chew to occupy our dogs and satisfy their need to chew.

Enter Deer Antlers for Dogs.

OTHER RESOURCES: Chew toys are great for helping with bitey, nippy, mouthy puppies. Check out this list of best chew toys for a teething puppy from our friends at Labrador Training HQ.

Deer Antlers For Dogs

Do deer antlers make for a good chew toy?

Some of the things we’ve heard about these antler dog chews are:

  • “They are great for dogs who love to chew because they last for a very long time.”
  • “You can purchase them in different sizes depending on the size of your dog.”
  • “They don’t stink really bad like the bully sticks you get from the store.”
Two Pups' debating...Are Deer Antlers A Good Chew?
Two Pups’ debating…Are Deer Antlers A Good Chew Toy?

If you’d like to read more information about deer antlers for dogs than check out the product description for Bones & Chews Deer Antlers. Chewy readers give mostly good reviews.

So, are antlers for dogs safe?

We recently received an email from our Guide Dog group that we wanted to share with our readers.

Here’s what they had to say about deer antlers for dogs.

Are Deer Antlers For Dogs Safe?

“We are having an increase in the instances of dogs (puppies and adults) with acute diarrhea.

All tests show that the cause is not bacterial or parasitic. What all these cases do have in common……

Now I am not knocking antlers, they definitely have their place.

Antlers are an excellent tool for dogs with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

But because they are considered a novel protein, once a dog is given this as a treat, Venison can no longer be considered a novel protein for that dog.

This makes it much more difficult to find a novel protein if needed in the future for skin or intestinal issues.

Recently, as antler dog chews become more popular, antlers are getting more scarce.

Antler chew sellers are popping up all over and they are looking to sell the cheaper, low-grade antler to make more profit.

These antlers are old, brittle, and can crack and splinter when chewed.

Because of the scarcity antlers are being brought in from other countries like China where they may be treated with chemical preservatives.

Antlers are also high in protein, this too can cause stomach upset especially in young dogs.

We recommend the following “chew toys”:

Sterile bones, Nylabones, and the occasional rawhide,(UPDATE rawhides are no longer a recommended chew) are the same chew toys given while they are in training.

All of these chews need to be given only under direct supervision.

We do not recommend antlers as a chew toy/supplement.”

–Guide Dog Vet Department

I'm going to sleep on this one. Whether or not their good chew toys their good pillows! :)
I’m going to sleep on this one. Whether or not their good chew toys their good pillows! 🙂

Are Deer Antlers For Dogs A Good Chew Toy?

Obviously, we can no longer use deer antlers as a chew toy/supplement for our guide dog puppies in training, but then again we never had the chance to use them in the first place.

By the way, I’m glad I did not have to experience acute diarrhea with my pups.

The fear of all 3 of my dogs getting diarrhea is enough to make me avoid purchasing deer antler chews for my dogs.

QUICK UPDATE: As several readers have noted in the comment section many dogs have cracked their teeth on deer antlers. In my own experience, I’ve had one friend tell me their dog cracked a tooth as well. I know this is not the case with all dogs. One thing I’d recommend is to know your dog. If your dog is an intense chewer then maybe try a softer chew like a KONG. One reader said they don’t give it to their dog if they can’t dent it with their fingernail. 

So I guess we’ll just stick to the Sterile bones, Nylabones, and the occasional pressed rawhide bone. (UPDATE Pressed rawhide bones are no longer recommended)

Lucky for us Dublin (and now Apache) loves the Nylabones and Sterile Bones so we rarely give them any other kind of dog chews.

Our current favorite dog chew toys are

We also like the following chews:

The KONG Dog Toy has been pretty much indestructible while the Nylabone Wishbone gets a bit jagged when our dogs chew on it, but has remained in one piece…just don’t let your dog drop it on your barefoot…OUCH!

Are Deer Antlers Good For Puppies?

Since we first wrote this post we had never used deer antlers with our puppies.

As you can see from the updated pics in this article we decided to see what the pups thought about deer antlers.

After all the pluses and minuses mentioned in this article, one of the big ones that we were afraid of was cracked teeth and therefore decided antlers wouldn’t be appropriate for the big boys.

However, the little guys love to teeth but don’t usually bite down with the same force as the big dogs thus alleviating my fear of cracked teeth. Also, puppy teeth fall out at around 4-6 months.

So we took the plunge and allowed our puppies under 4 months to play and chew on the deer antlers.

Our pups immediately loved the antlers and had no issues with cracked teeth and they barely put a dent in the antlers. Luckily we haven’t had any digestion or diarrhea issues with our puppies.

The question now is will I continue to use deer antlers with my young pups?

Yes, if I can find a high-quality deer antler I don’t mind using it with the puppies. However, I’ll probably stick mostly with my two favorite chews: Yak Cheese Dog Chews and Bully Sticks.

One thing to remember is no matter what your puppy is chewing monitor him closely.

While products like antlers and rawhides come into the news more often even items deemed “safe” can become a hazard depending on the puppy.

That’s it! By the way, there’s tons of great information about the advantages and disadvantages of antlers for dogs in our comments section. Check it out if you have a moment.

Do you have a destructive dog that loves to chew?

What are your favorite dog chew toys?

Have you tried deer antlers for dogs?

How about elk antlers for dogs?

We’d love to hear about your experiences so tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

Related Article:

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Are deer antlers for dogs a good chew toy? We’ve debated this over the years and there are definitely pros and cons to deer antlers for dogs. When the popularity of these chews came to the forefront some are definitely while others against these as a dog chew toy. #dogchews #deerantlersfordogs #deerantlers #antlersfordogs #dogchewtoys #deerantlersfordogsnatural
Are Deer Antlers For Dogs A Good Chew Toy?

UPDATE: This post was originally posted on December 27th, 2011. It has been updated with new information based on our experiences over the years.

Top Picks For Our Puppies

    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
    We Like: Mighty Paw Naturals Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
    We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.

Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.

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  1. I’ve given my 12week old English Bulldog puppy a deer antler and she has gone mental! Really hyperactive, has anyone else seen this?

  2. I have two 10-month old Schnauzer puppies who love to chew on my furniture. They are the Nylabone so we bought them antlers. They’ve had the antlers for four days now and on the fourth day they have projectile diarrhea. Can The antlers possibly be the cause?

    1. Same thing just happened to us! 14 week old puppy loved his first antler. Acute diarrhea and drooling quickly ensued.its been about 3 hours and he seems to be improving but the antler is in the trash and NEVER AGAIN!

  3. I’m yet to try antlers but our 4 month old border collie loves a KONG and pig ears (only Australian!) Bones from butcher get smelly plus with summer fast approaching l didn’t want anything that could attract bees etc. When her teeth are really sore a nice thick carrot will do the trick

    1. Others have noted that their dogs have cracked their teeth on deer antlers. Every dog is different. It’s important to know your dog and be sure he/she is safe with any chew toy or product.

  4. I love the deer antlers since we got Coco the antler he does not chew on my furniture. Which is a win. He will spend hours just chewing in the antler. Rubber chew toys he looses interest in in minutes. Cocobean is a 4 month old chocolate Labrador.

  5. Deer antlers have worked great for my 2 chihuahuas. I have had no issue with cracked teeth or diarrhea and have used them for 2 years now. My chihuahuas ate Nylabones, I don’t want that in their stomachs. Recommend antlers for small dogs.

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