There are certainly tons of products out there that are produced for dogs to chew on. They are typically made of various materials and dog owners can choose which one is most suitable for their pets. One of the best options out there is antler chews because they bring a lot of health benefits and are also safe.
Why Dogs Chew
Although it might annoy dog owners when their pups chew everything in sight, including their own shoes and socks, it is actually quite a normal behavior for them. Chewing is vital for oral health and allows them to use up energy. Moreover, it keeps them from doing other destructive things and leads to them being content because chewing allows positive brain chemicals to be released. Dogs feel less anxious or frustrated when they chew.
Dogs learn about the world around them through chewing, especially when they are still puppies. Like babies, biting on something relieves them from teething pain. Older dogs, on the other hand, clean their teeth and keep their jaws strong by gnawing on something.
Elk Antler Chews
Antlers as dog chews has been a long-term practice though it has recently become more popular. Other than elk, deer are also sources of antler chews for canines. Antlers start off as layers of cartilage that eventually turn into bone. They grow about 1 inch every day. Antler velvet, which is a thick layer of fur, grows and elk rub this off on the antlers. After growing fully, these antlers are shed naturally.
While there are many kinds of antler to choose from, elk antler is the best. The differences are in the sponginess and hardness of the antler, with deer horns too hard and most likely to cause dental injuries. Moose and mule varieties, on the other hand, are also safe for dogs to chew on but are not as easy to find as those from elk. Moreover, these antlers open up in the middle so canine chewers get easy access to the bone marrow. However, these split antlers will not last as long especially if you have an aggressive canine chewer. Elk has the right density and does not have as high a risk of slap fractures like other options.
Benefits Of Chewing Elk Antler
Antlers contain real bone and cartilage, as well as a marrow core. Because they are actually bones, they are very hard. Unlike rawhide or processed bones, they contain calcium, protein, collagen, glucosamine, magnesium, chondroitin sulfate, as well as iron and zinc. Raw-fed dogs need bones for a balanced diet, though they do not have to be very hard ones like elk antler.
However big or small your dog is, 100% natural elk antler is the best option for your pet. They are great at keeping teeth clean and strong. They are also good for puppies, as well as both small and big dogs. Here is a rundown of the benefits of opting for this type of dog chew.
- They last a long time and do not easily chip, splinter, or split.
- They are non-allergenic and in fact, do wonders for your pup’s coat.
- They come from a natural source and because elk shed them, there is no harm caused to them. At the same time, they do not have any artificial ingredients that might be harmful.
- Antlers have more nutritional value than other chews.
- These types of chews are also mess-free, unlike rawhide.
- They keep your pet’s teeth and mouth clean.
Different Elk Antler Grades
When searching for antler chews, you will notice that there are 5 different levels. This is what those levels mean:
Grade A+ are the highest quality products and are also very pristine, so they are normally used for crafts or artisan purposes. Less than 5% of antlers are graded A+ and they are quite tough to find.
Grade A antlers comprise of 10 to 15% of products yearly, and they have been shed during the same or the previous year. They look a bit light brown in color as a sign that they have been freshly shed and have not been exposed to the elements a lot.
Grade B antlers are the most plentiful in the market, under high-end brands. They look white because they have been dried through sun bleaching. They might also have signs of rodent chewing. These antlers were shed about 1 to 2 years before. Unfortunately, they might not always be safe for your pup to chew on, as the drying out process might make them much more likely to chip or splinter.
Lastly, Grades C and D antlers are the least appropriate for your pet. They look white due to many years of exposure to the sun and the elements, and you might notice a white powder on the surface. Because it has lost a lot of moisture, it looks porous. They will break easily, and you have to watch out because they are sold in many pet stores out there as dog chews.
What To Watch Out For
As with other types of dog chews, you should make sure that the antler chew is big enough for your pup not to choke on it. You should also make sure that there are no sharp edges at all times. If you find one, you can simply smoothen it out with sandpaper or just rub it against concrete. Most importantly, limit your dog’s chewing of antler to one-half to 1 inch every day. The high protein content of antler might lead to upset stomach so monitor it when it is chewing, if possible. It is also possible for your pup to develop a weight problem if you feed it too much as well.
When buying elk antler, make sure that you consider the type of chewer your dog is and its current state of dental health. If your dog has had loose teeth, fractures or breakages, this will rule out any hard chews for them. Moreover, if they have smaller teeth and jaws, then they only need a softer chew.
Dogs also suffer oral health issues like gum disease, gingivitis, bone loss, and periodontitis. These issues will make antler chews unsuitable for your pup. You can consult with the vet on the best kind of chew for your pet if you are unsure. Should you decide to give antler chews, look carefully for good quality products and check the grade of the product you are planning to buy.
Finding any blood on the antler is a sign you need to watch out for. He might have a wound caused by the chewing, or it might have a split so make sure to check the antler and treat the wound accordingly.
Antler chews are great options for a dog that loves chewing, so long as it has excellent oral health. While they are a safe and natural choice for your dog, it is important for dog owners to know how to find the best antler chews for their dog and what to watch out for.