We all know that dogs love to chew. Doing so helps support healthy teeth and gums by removing plaque – making it the doggy equivalent of us brushing our teeth! The activity can also be very relaxing, helping your furry friend to stay calm, or deal with stressful situations.
If you don’t want your shoes and furniture to be subject to the wrath of your dog’s teeth, buying them a chew toy is a must! One classic option is to get your dog a bone, but more and more vets are now suggesting that this could actually be quite dangerous for your pooch. Bones are much harder than other chewing options, meaning they have the potential to break your pet’s tooth, which can be very painful! A broken tooth will often result in its complete removal, not to mention vet’s fees. Bones also have the potential to splinter, and if your dog swallows a piece all sorts of nasty complaints could ensure.
The solution? Deer antlers. Just like bones, they’re hard enough to last through a considerable amount of chewing, and contain the tasty marrow that dogs love. They’re also a little softer than most animal bones, and less likely to splinter. Antlers could be the natural alternative to bones you’ve been looking for, and there are plenty to choose from! Below we go through our top ten, and answer some common question about these doggy treats.
Our Top Picks for the Best Elk Antler Dog Chews:
Best Elk Antler Dog Chews Buying Guide & FAQ
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.
We hope that one of these chews will be the right option for your dog – if they’re an aggressive gnawer, these types of chews really can be a long lasting solution which is good for them too! Like antlers themselves, antler chews come in all shapes and sizes, as well as different levels of harness, and differing qualities. Because of this, the task of picking one out for your dog can be surprisingly challenging! That’s why we’ve covered some of the most common questions and concerns about these products, so you’re in the know when it comes to what your furry friend is gnawing on.
Things to Consider When Buying Elk Antler Dog Chews
There are a few key factors to bear in mind when choosing an antler chew for your dog:
When selecting an antler chew for your pooch, quality should be at the top of your list. This is a product which your pet will be gnawing on for hours, and ingesting, so it’s important to choose the best ones! We recommend purchasing a chew with a grade-A quality rating. These can cost a little more, but since they last longer, it’s definitely a sound investment. Better quality chews also retain their vital vitamins and minerals better, so are more nutritious too.
Antler chews are generally considered by veterinarians to be much safer for dogs than bones, but the best manufacturers render them safer still by cutting them to appropriate sizes, and trimming and sanding them into smoothness. This treatment helps to prevent splinters breaking off, which could cut your dog’s mouth, or become lodged in their digestive tract.
It probably goes without saying, but if you’ve got a big dog, you’ll need a big chew. Most antler chew manufacturers will provide advice concerning the size of dog they are intended for, and roughly how long the antler pieces are. A dog’s chew should be too large to be accidentally swallowed, so as to avoid a choking hazard.
Some manufacturers will indicate how hard their chews are, which can be really useful for owners. If your dog has never had an antler chew before, it’s a good idea to start them out with as soft a chew as possible. If this is worn down too quickly, move onto a medium hardness.
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.
Health 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.
- Elk antlers for dogs are a good source of protein, which helps your dog’s body grow and heal
- These types of chews are also mess-free, unlike rawhide.
- They keep your pet’s teeth and mouth clean and helps to remove plaque from your dog’s mouth, keeping teeth and gums in good condition
- Antlers for dogs are a great source of calcium, which is vital for strong bones and teeth
- Antlers also contain phosphorous, which works with calcium to maintain healthy bones
It’s difficult to find a chew this rich in these important nutrients which is also totally natural. Antlers are also free from gluten, and artificial additives, which makes them a great chew option for dogs with sensitive stomachs or allergies.
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.
Difference between Elk Antlers and Deer Antlers
Deer and elk antlers contain comparable levels of nutrients and are both suitable chews for many dogs. The main difference between them is that the outer core of deer antlers is much harder than that of their elk-sourced counterparts. Because of this, whether you choose to give your dog a deer or elk antler will depend very much on their chewing style. Dogs with sturdy jaws who chew aggressively may be better off with deer antlers since they’ll last through the constant gnawing for much longer – meaning fewer replacements for you to buy! Conversely, dogs who do not chew so aggressively will probably benefit from the softer exterior of elk antlers.
When trying your dog with an antler chew for the first time, it’s a good idea to start with elk, even if you’re not convinced it will last for very long! Chews that are too hard can be dangerous for dogs, so it’s best to err on the side of caution if in doubt.
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.
Q: Where do elk antler dog chews come from?
A: Elk and deer antler dog chews are totally natural products, which the animals naturally shed roughly every year.
This frequent shedding typically takes between two and three weeks, and allows the animal to grow new, stronger antlers. The new growth cycle takes two or three months to complete. Deer and elk will simply leave their discarded antlers lying around – they have no further use for them. Dogs, however, do. Companies who produce antler chews source them by having expert gatherers scour areas where deer and elk live, looking for these shed antlers. The quality of the antler can be ascertained by its color, since a darker antler indicates it was shed more recently, so has been less bleached by the weather, and retained more nutrients. Since deer and elk shed their antlers every year, they’re also a great renewable resource which is relatively easy to come by. Dogs love to chew antlers because of the honeycombed marrow within them.
Q: Are elk antler dog chews safe for my canine?
A: Deer antlers for dogs are not recommended for dogs with weak teeth, and if you’re unsure you should consult with your vet. Generally speaking, however, elk antler chews are safe for dogs, yes. They possess all the benefits of bones, but without the possibility of splintering, plus elk antlers in particular are a slightly softer alternative. Like bones, they contain tasty marrow which harbors a whole host of nutrients from protein to calcium. They also last just as long as bones when chewed aggressively. For dogs with sensitive stomachs, antler chews could even be safer than artificially manufacture red ones, since they’ll never contain any additives or preservatives.
To make antlers even safer for dogs, pet care companies will cut them to an appropriate size to prevent choking hazards, trim off any extraneous pieces, and sometimes sand them down too. Making the deer antlers for dogs smoother helps prevent the chew from scratching up the inside of your dog’s mouth.
Although they’re generally safe for healthy dogs, be sure to supervise your pooch carefully the first time you give them an antler chew, and perform regular check-ups on their teeth and gums to make sure any dental problems are nipped in the bud.
Q: What are burrs/buttons?
A: Antler burrs or buttons are an alternative way to purchase antler chews for your dog. They actually consist of the part of the deer or elk antler which would have met the animal’s skull.
Purchasing burrs is often more economical than choosing a full antler piece, but they may not necessarily be the best option for your dog. This is because the burr is usually the toughest part of the antler. Since its function is to hold the antler onto the animal’s head, burrs need to be this hard in order to stand up to the aggressive behaviors which stags exhibit during mating season.
If your dog has never tried an antler chew before, we wouldn’t recommend giving them a burr. These are too hard for many dogs, and suitable for the most aggressive chewers only. When trying a burr for the first time, be sure to closely supervise your dog.
Our Top Pick
When it comes to finding the best elk antler dog chews, we think that Big Dog have got it right. Their six inch elk antler dog chews are perfect for most medium and large dogs, and are always naturally sourced. We also appreciate the fact that Big Dog always sand their antler products, making them safer for dogs’ mouths than cutting and trimming alone. Their “Happy Dog Guarantee” is another indicator of the faith Big Dog have in their products, which are a great natural alternative to other chews, which dogs really love. We also think they’re great value for money, which has helped to earn them the top spot on our list.
- Antler Chews for Dogs: Pros and Cons, Dog Training Nation