Are Antlers Safe for Dogs?

Dogs love to chew on bones and antlers. This is reinforced by cartoons, advertising, media and even our speech. You’ve probably heard the expression “like an dog with a bone”.

Antlers for dogs appear to be the ideal object for pets to chew on. Antlers don’t splinter as easily than bones or other toys. They also last a lot longer, which saves you money on chew toys that are expensive for strong chewers.

You should be aware that antlers can cause health problems.

Different types of Antler Chews

There are many different sources for natural antler chews. There are different textures to each type. Deer Antlers for Dogs have a different texture to other varieties. You can choose from a variety of sizes to fit your dog’s needs. Elk Antlers for Dogs are large and often available in a split version. The density of Elk antlers varies depending on which section is chosen. Dogs can purchase moose antlers in different sizes and shapes. There are many other types of “antler chews” that can be made from water Buffalo horns.

Antlers and Dental Health

One of the greatest paradoxes in relation to antlers, hard chews, is that as owners we believe we are helping to maintain our dogs teeth. It helps to reduce tartar and plaque buildup. Additionally, it redirects anxious tendencies and other destructive tendencies into a more acceptable outlet. Antlers can be a wonderful gift for those with powerful chewers who can easily destroy chew toys within hours.

Broken teeth are common in dogs due to antlers and other chewing materials that can be too hard for them. Broken teeth can lead to infection and abscesses. Your dog’s pain can be enough to deter you, but a broken tooth can also cost hundreds of money to fix or remove. This is why it is important that you carefully consider whether antlers would be the best chew for your dog.

Avoiding Health Problems From Antlers

Antlers can cause dental problems. Your dog’s gums can become infected by the hardness of the antlers. Although this isn’t always a serious problem, it can be very uncomfortable.

However, the internal problem is the most serious. Antlers that have broken or become splintered can lodge in the mouth, throat or intestines of your dog causing serious blockages that may require emergency surgery.

Dogs chewing antlers without supervision are particularly at risk. You may not be able to tell if they have swallowed some of the antler until they show symptoms or become more severe.

But My Dog Loves Antlers!

Antler problems are not common in all dogs. Although antlers can be given to dogs by their owners for many years, it is not guaranteed that they will be safe.

Although most veterinarians discourage dogs from chewing on antlers, you should supervise any dog who chews on them.

Antler Alternatives

It can sometimes feel as though dogs have no safety net anymore. Nylabones, antlers rawhide and bone are all controversial chew toys for dogs. They all have potential health hazards.

Consider buying chews that are rigid if you have concerns about your dog’s ability safely to chew antler chews. Also, make sure that chew toys don’t go all the way in your dog’s mouth. This protects aggressive chewers and can reduce the chance of obstruction.

Your veterinarian is a great resource for recommendations of safe chew toys, and you can also check out this list of veterinarian-approved chews from the Australian Veterinary Dental Society.  You should always ensure that your dog gets the correct size chew toy, regardless of whether it’s a chew toy or an object.