Two of the most common problems our dogs face are boredom and poor dental health. Deer antlers help you solve both, and more.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of deer antlers for dogs, and address common concerns. We’ll also take a look at brands available in Australia, and where you can buy them.
Related: Recommended treats for dogs
The benefits of deer antlers for dogs
Deer antlers share many of the same benefits as goat horns in that they’re very durable, long lasting treats, with little to no odour. They’re a good alternative to bully sticks, which despite arguably being the better treat of the three, tend to gross people out.
The benefits of deer antlers for dogs can be summarised as below:
- Natural and unprocessed – Deer antlers aren’t preserved in any way, with no additives, which makes them a great animal-based natural treat for your dog.
- Long lasting – You may wonder why deer antlers cost so much as dog treats, but they’re long lasting treats which will keep your dog occupied for hours.
- Rich in nutrients – Deer antlers can provide your dog with essential nutrients. Particularly calcium and phosphorous which support your dog’s bone health.
- Antiallergenic – Many dogs react to popular brands of treat or dog food, which I find mostly to be caused by inappropriate ingredients and additives. Not the case with deer antlers, which should provide a safe hypoallergenic option for dogs who react to lots of other stuff.
- Low in calories – If you’re after a low calorie treat for your dog then deer antlers tick that box, but as an animal-product will be more digestible for your dog and less likely to cause any weight issues.
- No splintering – Deer antlers are less likely to splinter than some other types of bones or chews, reducing the risk of injury to your dog’s mouth or digestive tract.
- Suitable for all sizes of dog AND puppies – Deer antlers can come in a variety of sizes, but generally can be considered one size fits all so don’t worry too much if you can’t find a small one for your Westie.
- Odour-free – Compared to bully sticks, deer antlers (and goat horns) don’t have much of a smell. So if you’re put off by smelly treats, then deer antlers might be the better option.
- Mental stimulation – Our dogs are often left to their own devices for many hours, and you probably already know they tend to curl up and patiently wait for your attention. As a consequence, dogs can get bored, and boredom leads to restless, anxiety, and destructiveness. A tasty deer antler can keep your dog occupied for much of that time, offering all the benefits above as well!
Where can I buy deer antlers for dogs?
There are a few brands of deer antlers for dogs available in Australia, and all can be considered similar:
Are deer antlers suitable for puppies?
Deer antlers are generally safe for puppies, but there are a few important points to consider. I’m sure you know your dog and their eating habits already, but consider the following:
- Supervision is key! – Always supervise your puppy when they are chewing on a deer antler (or any type of dog chew for that matter). Puppies are more likely to chew aggressively, and there is a risk they could break off or swallow larger pieces. This may pose a choking hazard or lead to digestive issues, so be careful until you know your puppy can chew a deer antler responsibly.
- Monitor wear and tear – Regularly inspect the deer antler for signs of wear and tear. If it becomes small enough for your puppy to swallow or if it starts to splinter, it’s time to replace it with a new one.
- Feed from 3+ months – Some may offer their puppies a deer antler from a younger age, and generally this will be fine, but err on the side of caution and start feeding from a minimum of three months old. By this stage your puppy will have stronger teeth with some adult teeth coming through. Very young puppies may not have the jaw strength or dental development needed to safely chew on harder materials.
- Introduce gradually – Some puppies may not immediately take to deer antlers. Some may need time to adjust to the new chew. This can particularly be the case if they’ve been fed one brand of kibble until this point (never a good idea). Introduce the deer antler gradually and observe your puppy’s reaction to ensure they are comfortable with it.
- Always ask your veterinarian for advice – When you have a puppy you will visit your veterinarian for vaccines, early check-ups, or puppy school (recommended to get your pup used to the vets!). Take this opportunity to ask their advice. Our vets are always a good source of information and help us learn and becoming better pet parents, even if they tend to recommend grain-based kibbles for pet carnivores.
Final thoughts on deer antlers for dogs
Are deer antlers something you feed your dogs? What advice can you give other dog owners – what brands are good, what aren’t, and how often do you feed deer antlers to your dogs?
Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below!