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: Himalayan 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.

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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.

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  2. BEST DOG CHEW
    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.
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173 Comments

  1. This is a really interesting article. As I am from Australia we have never heard of using deer antlers as chew toys for your puppy. Rawhide bones have been our go to but the smell has been a problem. Maybe I will give this a try with our new puppy!

    1. We’ve mostly been looking for natural chews for our dogs. Every chew we’ve come across seems to have pluses and minuses including deer antlers. One of our current favorites are bully sticks although depending on where you get your bully sticks from they could have a very bad odor.

      FYI, there’s been a lot of controversy with Rawhide here in the United States so we’ve avoided all types of rawhide with our puppies and dogs.

  2. Something that doesn’t stink would be a big hit in our house. It’s gross how some of the rawhides and other chew things stink and then the slobber from the dogs. Antlers sound like a good cure for that…too bad about the cracked teeth. That scares me. Thanks for the information!

    1. Odor free is definitely a great thing. Along with the smell of bully sticks our house definitely has a doggy odor plus lots of fur tumble weeds. This year I hope to do more to keep our home cleaner and more odor free.

    2. I switched to lamb horns from Icelandic+. They are fresher and safer than antlers. I have a powerful chewer(bully breed), and I usually get at least a week or two out of each horn. They are not as odourless as antlers, but they are still a considerable improvement from bully sticks, bones, and other natural chews. They are available in other proteins from other brands, but Icelandic+ is my go-to company. They source high-quality, responsibly sourced ingredients from Iceland.

      1. Thank you for sharing your experience with lamb horns from Icelandic+. I’m going to check them out for my dogs and hopefully they work as an alternate chew.

  3. This is the most complete information I have ever found on dog chews, even after a lot of research, My dogs buried their Nylabones after a couple of sniffs.

  4. In my nearly 50 years of owning dogs I’ve never seen a problem with antlers and only once seen a problem related to rawhide, and that was while it was on it’s way out. I’ve seen dogs eat everything from the evening newspaper, the dreaded chicken bones, plastic toys, plastic wrap, wood, etc…..and my latest puppy went through a very brief sand eating stage and now will stealthily pick up small pebbles to chew on while on walks. I agree that it’s all about the individual dog and whether he has sensitivities to certain items, and whether his mission is to get his chew toy down his gullet as soon as possible or he takes his time with it.

  5. I will never give my dogs nylabones again! I had a 1-1/2 year old lab mix that was able to chew hers up into small pieces. We had no idea until she stopped eating and became sick. The vet finally saw it in her stomach on the X-ray and performed emergency surgery, however she was too weak to make it through the night! Never again will I risk it for a chew toy, I’ll stick with KONG.

  6. The reality is a dog can break/chip a tooth on almost anything even their food. I’ve had a dog crack/break tooth on Nylabone… I had a puppy bite off/swallow part of a Nylabone, so I really don’t like Nylabone much except maybe the Wishbone/Wolfbone larger sizes. The Knuckle Bones can cause all sorts of problems… I think most times when dog chews on it will end up throwing up since it like flakes a bit. He has swallowed parts of Bully Sticks which he has thrown up. Rawhide he would at times throw up kinda if it was the sticks since would like chew it down quick. I found the round ring shaped ones are better since he can hold it w/ paw eating bits. I’ve tried a few of the deer/elk made in USA antlers which at first the puppy didn’t seem interested in. He seems to chew one more than the other though not sure which. The other dogs don’t seem to care for antlers, I find getting the largest size or near there is best. If they don’t have things to chew they will start chewing walls, couch, eating blankets, anything can imagine. So while chews might not be perfect they are probably safer. Like anything dogs are going to do better with things others might not. Most of the fatal issue I’ve read about Knuckle Bones were the smoked or baked style over the normal. I know my dog was crapping all over when got this CAstor Pollux Organic Puppy food probably from the Coconut Oil… So should all dogs not use anything w/ that, maybe there those who have no problems. I did read a lot of reviews of all those dog food lines where people complained about the loose stool/exploding all over house barely making it to the back door etc ;).

    I would try to get stuff made in USA, I find it confusing they have Bully Sticks along w/ Steer Sticks… The Steer are from neutered bulls, which makes me wonder does that matter? Like is being neutered safer? Also for writing a blog should know more about antlers… According to what I’ve read they shed them naturally so don’t need to kill them for their antlers. Also if do the wild antlers then need to treat them to make sterile eliminated the parasites. Puppy in general can react badly to anything since their system is delicate developing. In general anything give dog is going to cause some loose stools or other issues… Especially if give too much or at wrong time of night/day to digest properly or conflicts w/ another food. I never used Antlers before, I’ve used Hooves but don’t trust them since too easy to swallow. If can’t find something Made in USA from USA then really don’t bother… They have some shifty companies that claim or mislead about it being USA etc… Like somebody was telling me Barksworthy isn’t USA purely, supposedly its even explained on their web site… Like one of those where its american but processed in another country or its processed here from somewhere else… I notice dogs will throw up chunks of the pizzle from Drs. Fosters Smith which seems to splinter or flake… Their pizzle style long sticks can break them finding like weird bits or chunks in them. Most things sold as treats/chews/whatever are not even classified as food… So its some shady stuff going on, company to company the same product isn’t consistent or pure. You might have it be called a deer/elk antler but its not the same as another brand or type. Pizzle for example I think when fed the dogs Lamb they seemed to throw up for some odd reason. Yet many talk about how lamb is good for dogs w/ allergies or issues etc. Blanket statements are not really good. In anything have to try to find the best type/quality. I remember getting rawhide from like Brazil that when dog was chewing could see bits of newspaper or some other crap. Now they have something they claim is 99% digestible “Beefhide” which got not even realizing it wasn’t “rawhide”… It was the same braided style that used to get them since was made in USA. Would like to know if anybody else has tried products called Beefhide or replacements for rawhide not mentioned? Try to only have cotton/natural fibers around dogs… I had one eat/chew swallow part of a sheet which had Polyester causing like a 6K surgery eventually to remove crap from stomach. Little dogs are harder to handle since they are small… So what might not bother a bigger dog is going to harm them. Its like drinking alcohol if lack the ability to digest it or have a slight body weights/size no tolerance :). I try to get my puppy who will be a year old soon the largest antlers possible like 8.5+ or 9+ since they seem safer for him. Most problems I think from Antlers cracking/breaking teeth are from getting dog too big or small. Many seem to be blaming antler when the fault is with them or other issues not mentioned.

    1. I agree with you 100% on your post! On antlers for dogs, I find that if you get antlers that are less dense for puppies, they have an easier time getting to the marrow and and it’s slightly easier on their little puppy teeth. Also you have to always monitor antler chewing.

  7. I’m horrified that you recommend hide chews for dogs. Many dogs have died as a result of these becoming slimey when softened by chewing. It is impossible to extract them from the dog’s throat.

  8. some deer antlers aren’t safe…..i had bought one from petco that my doberman would carry around….when she passed i gave it to my small dog, one day i found the antler and a chip on the sofa. the following week he went in for a dental and they found 2 broken teeth. these thing are hard as rocks and will break teeth in the wrong dogs mouth….dog give these to dogs!

  9. Our 20 week mini Aussie is spending the night at the vet due to vomiting and diarrhea. A X-ray showed tiny bone fragments thruout his gut and I could see it in his poop. . The only “bone” he has had are antlers. Puppies/dogs have the ability to shave off antler particles which can back up the puppy. We thought he had eaten something and could not pass it. Which was true but we never thought of his antler being the cause. So be careful. Larger dogs have bigger systems but I’m. It taking any changes. I threw them all out. I’m praying I get to pick my boy up in the morning and he is all better.

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