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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!
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.”
If you’d like to read more information about deer antlers for dogs then check out the product description for Heartland Deer Antlers. Amazon 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
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?
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.
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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
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack - Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
- BEST DOG CHEW
We Like: Natural Farm Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
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.