Antler Chews for Dogs: Pros and Cons
Chewing provides plenty of mental stimulation and exercise for dogs. Plus, most high value dog chews taste pretty good. Puppies must have plenty of chewing opportunities, especially during the teething process. While we assume younger dogs enjoy chewing, most senior dogs enjoy a good raw bone, bully stick or antler chew too. 🙂
Providing antler chews for dogs can be a good or bad thing, depending on your dog’s chewing style. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of antler dog chews to help you in this decision.
Pros of Antler Dog Chews
Antler dog chews have recently become a very popular chew item for dogs with good reason. Here’s a short list of antler pros:
- Antlers are available in most pet stores or online
- Last a long time (six months to a year, depending on your dog’s chewing style)
- Different sizes to choose from, depending on your dog’s size
- No animals are harmed because antlers are shed naturally
- Antlers contain nutrients, such as collagen and calcium
- Most importantly, dogs love them
Cons of Antler Dog Chews
While antlers are extremely popular dog chew toys, they have some very serious cons too.
- Antlers are made of bone, on which chewing will cause tooth and gum damage
- Antlers will splinter during the chewing process
- Most dogs can whittle down areas into needle-sharp points
- Antlers are expensive! Prepare to pay between $10-$50 per antler, depending on size
- Imported antlers contain chemicals
Tooth & Gum Damage
This is easily the most common health issue with antler chews for dogs. Veterinary dentists don’t recommend antler chews due to the alarming amount of slab fractures (i.e. fractures running horizontally along a tooth) and gum lacerations that result from chewing on them. Not only are tooth fractures and gum lacerations extremely painful for your dog, but painful for your wallet as well.
RELATED: Best Dental Products for Dogs
Know Your Dog’s Chewing Style Before Giving Antler Chews
Before giving your dog an antler to chew on, it’s important to understand your dog’s chewing style. Don’t be fooled by your dog’s size because little dogs can chew through tough toys like termites too.
A small percentage of dogs fall into the moderate chewer category, as most dogs will devour a high value chew within minutes. Moderate chewers are usually older dogs, or dogs that take their sweet time when chewing. When watching a moderate chewer, you’ll notice they’ll lightly gnaw and lick a chew, and then take frequent breaks. Some moderate chewers will hide chew toys for later, or just enjoy burying them in the yard or sofa cushions.
Antlers would be an appropriate chew option for this category. When choosing an antler size for your dog, choose one size bigger than recommended on the package. Choosing a larger antler prevents accidental swallowing, and will last much longer.
Most dogs fall into this category. Strong chewers will gnaw through chew toys like a termite. When given a chew toy, strong chewers will plop down on the floor and chew until the entire item has been consumed or broken into tiny pieces.
Unfortunately, antler chews aren’t recommended for strong chewing dogs. Antlers are rock hard, and strong chewing dogs will bite down on antlers with all their might. This is how teeth are broken or gums are lacerated. Plus, strong chewing dogs will whittle down antlers into sharp points that are painful to touch. Antlers splinter too, and splinters cause gastric upset, intestinal obstructions, fractured teeth and gum damage. Flexible, yet tough, rubber toys work best for strong chewing dogs.
Use caution when giving your dog an antler chew, and always supervise your dog with any chew toy.