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So, deer antlers have become a bit of controversial topic. They started out as the perfect natural chew that kept dogs busy for a long time while helping with their oral hygiene at the same time.
Today the opinions on deer antlers are a bit more nuanced. Some still strongly recommend them, others may advise against giving them to our dogs.
In this article, we’ll discuss both the pro’s and con’s of deer antlers, as well as frequently asked questions, so that you can make an informed decision about whether you want to buy them or not.
As the name suggests, they’re the antlers of deer, which are made up of a bone-like substance. Male deer shed them naturally once a year, however most deer antlers that are used for dog chews are a by-product of the hunting industry.
Proponents of deer antlers argue for the following benefits:
Now, here’s where opinions are starting to differ.
Proponents of deer antlers will argue that they’re a safe, natural dog chew which will help with the dental care of your dog. They’re also low in calories, and gnawing them will help remove plaque from your dog’s teeth and keep them clean.
Opponents will argue that deer antlers should not be given as a dog chew, as there’s a high chance that they will damage the dog’s teeth.
Opponents of deer antlers argue that their bone cortex is too hard for the dog’s teeth. Because our dogs have such enormous forces in their jaws, there’s a high risk that the deer antlers will cause chipping of the molars (fracture the teeth), which can expose the pulp and lead to painful inflammation.
This is why if you do give your dog deer antlers, you should always supervise them while they’re gnawing on the antler.
Over 80% of dogs over the age of 3 experience some form of dental disease. The mechanical abrasion that happens when dogs gnaw on chew treats can play an important role in oral hygiene for dogs. In other words, in preventing dental disease.
You may wish to discuss this topic with your vet to find out how you can best support the dental care of your dog.
For some dog owners, supervised chew-time with antlers works great. Others may be better suited to softer dental treats (like Greenies). Or you may decide to brush your dog’s teeth with a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste (note they’re different to human products).
So, you do have a few different options for supporting the oral care of your dog. Have a chat with your vet to discuss which approach will work best for you.