There is no doubt that dogs love to chew. The variety of chewing products in your local pet store can attest that many dogs are keeping their pearly whites in good shape. However, there are chew products and chew products. Deer antlers are a fairly new alternative to traditional dog chews. The benefits derived from giving Rover some of Rudolph the Reindeer's antlers as a gift are several, but there also some risks.
You may have seen deer antlers for sale but wondered exactly what they were and how to use them. If the looks of deer antlers gave you cold feet, you may feel more confident with a bit of knowledge. Antlers are basically bony appendages found on the heads of many members of the deer family. Deer, caribou, moose, reindeer and elk are among the species known to have antlers. The antlers are mainly used as weapons in combats between males.
Deer antlers are made of animal cartilage and bone tissue. Their hard, smooth surface unravels a marrow core that provides your canine companion with many benefits. Unlike processed bones or raw hides that have little to no nutritional value, antlers offer much more than that. Calcium, protein, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, collagen, magnesium, iron and zinc are a few nutritional components you find in deer antlers.
Best of all, deer antlers are long-lasting chews that don't splinter or chip as much as cooked bones. Because of this, they are ideal for keeping your dog's teeth and gums in good shape. Deer antlers are also 100 percent natural and no deer are harmed when they are collected since they are shed annually. Unlike bully sticks, deer antlers are odor-free and will not stain. Look for deer antlers sourced in the U.S. from organically raised animals.
Many dogs seem to appreciate the nubby, smooth and thick textures of deer antlers. However, keep in mind that no chew product is 100 percent safe and healthy. Some dogs with sensitive tummies may develop digestive issues from the protein found in the marrow. In some cases, dogs have also fractured their teeth. It is always a good idea to remove a chew when if it starts splintering or should it become small enough to be swallowed whole. This may lead to choking or an intestinal blockage.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.