Is It OK to Feed Antlers to My Dog?

by Jen Davis
    Antlers are shed each year so a new set can grow the following year.

    Antlers are shed each year so a new set can grow the following year.

    Anup Shah/Photodisc/Getty Images

    As a dog owner, you know your dog benefits from having plenty of different chews and toys that he can use to satisfy his natural urge to gnaw. If you are looking for a healthy, natural chew toy for your dog, antlers may be just the treat you are searching for.

    Deer, elk and a variety of other large herbivores have bony growths called antlers that grow from the top of their heads. Antlers are formed by fast-growing layers of cartilage that solidify into true bone as time passes. It is normal for deer and other species who have antlers to shed them and grow a new set. Except in reindeer, antlers occur only in male animals.

    Antlers are 100 percent organic and -- in their natural state -- do not contain any substances hazardous or poisonous to dogs. Since antlers are made of bone, they are just as safe for your dog to eat as any other type of animal bone.

    Some types of antler are softer and easier to chew than others. Elk antlers are a popular choice for dogs to chew because they are thought to be slightly softer and easier to chew than other types. If antlers are too old, they can crack or splinter when they are chewed, posing a choking hazard as well as exposing your dog to a potentially sharp object. If the antlers you give your dog to chew are too hard, your dog risks breaking a tooth.

    You can purchase antler dog chews from your local pet store. Antler chews that have been specifically processed and checked for safety will be better for your dog than antlers you might find while walking in the woods, which may contain bacteria or contaminants. If you want to give your dog antlers to chew, you should purchase antlers that are intended for consumption by dogs and then supervise your dog while he is enjoying the chew to ensure it does not splinter or otherwise injure your dog.

    Photo Credits

    • Anup Shah/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.

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