Antlers for Dogs and Puppies

We all love our pets because for most of us they are part of our family. Our puppy, Pumpkin, turned a year old a few days ago. So, we decided to celebrate her birthday by purchasing some presents for her. We took Pumpkin to one of the local pet stores and bought for her some toys and also treats. Among the toys that we got for her, we purchased a deer antler. Pumpkin loves to chew, and one thing that she adores to chew is the deer antler.

What are antlers? Why do dogs like them?
I teach about antlers in a couple of my courses, so I know a lot about their biological composition and zoological history. One thing that is clear is that antlers are an excellent source of minerals such as calcium and phosphorous. Contrary to horns, antlers are normally present in males except for caribous (also called reindeers) where both genders have antlers. Since they are made entirely of bone, dogs found antlers particularly tasty - explaining why they love to chew them. Although some companies offer "flavored" antlers, natural flavors are usually sufficient.

But are there any other benefits? Most of the nutrients found in antlers are usually found in any good quality commercial dog food. Thus, dogs don't need the nutrients provided by antlers. But, for domestic dogs, who often suffer from boredom, chewing on a hard substance such as an antler could be a relaxing and recreational activity. From what we are seeing with Pumpkin, antlers can be a good chew toy for puppies.  This being said you need to make certain that you find the right size (i.e., slightly larger than the mouth of your pup). The size will provide them a challenge by being a little large, while also minimizing any choking risks.

Arguments against the use of antlers for dogs and puppies

While rare, there is a possibility of cracking when chewing a deer antler or elk antler dog treat. Because of this, it is usually recommended supervision while feeding a dog with antlers. It's always important to ensure that they are sufficiently large to minimize any accidents. If cracking occurs or only a swallowable piece remains, you should discard the small pieces.

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Antlers for Dogs and Puppies