Last Updated on December 14, 2021 by Marco C.
When looking for a healthy and hardy treat for your dog you definitely ought to consider antlers as well. However, can antlers make a dog sick or are they a good treat choice? As you hopefully know, giving your dog cooked bones is a very risky proposition for example. Does the same apply to antlers? What if they are raw? Let’s explore all that in detail below.
Can Antlers Make A Dog Sick?
Technically, yes. As with any other type of food, treat, or chew toy, antlers pose certain health risks. In fact, if you are not exactly risk-averse, you may want to avoid both antlers and bones as treats for your dog.
However, while antlers can result in some issues, there are ways to avoid them. There are even quite a few benefits to giving your dog antlers as treats. But, before we get there, let’s diligently go over the four main ways for how can antlers make a dog sick.
What Are The Problems With Deer Antlers For Dogs?
The chief things to watch out for with antlers are quite similar to the main problems with bones. The risks aren’t exactly the same, however. So, here’s what you can expect:
- Dental problems. Most antlers are pretty hard, whether they are from deer, elk, moose, or water buffalo. After all, that’s one thing that makes them great treats – dogs can have fun with them for hours and days at a time. However, that’s also a problem as breaking or cracking a tooth is quite easier with antlers than it is with bones or toys.
- We often just expect our dogs to have strong and sturdy teeth but that’s just not always the case. Especially in senior dogs or in breeds with certain health problems and mineral deficiencies, their teeth can be surprisingly soft even though their jaw strength is still great. So, if you want to give your dog antlers or other hard treats, it’s always recommended to consult with your vet about the dog’s health first.
- Choking hazard. This is the exact same problem bones have. Most antlers don’t break into splinters as easily as bones, however, it’s still far from an unlikely scenario. So, below we’ll cover how you should prepare antlers to avoid splintering.
- Bacteria and contaminants. Antlers should be properly decontaminated and treated to avoid any unwanted bacteria from getting into your dog’s system. If you skip that part, you should watch out for diarrhea or vomiting. Again, we’ll cover the antler preparation method below.
- Allergies. Some dogs are just allergic to unexpected things and foods, and antlers fall in that category. Always monitor your dog for signs of an allergic reaction after offering an antler treat.
Are There Benefits To Giving Your Dogs Deer Antlers?
To counteract those drawbacks, antlers have quite a few benefits too:
- Proper dental hygiene. Like other chews, antlers can help keep your dog’s teeth and gums clean and healthy.
- Awesome taste or real animal bone marrow.
- Good source of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and potassium which are both great for your dog’s teeth and bone health.
- A natural dog treat – much better than factory-made synthetic dog chews.
- A long-lasting treat thanks to how hard and durable antlers are.
How To Sterilize Deer Antlers For Dog Chews?
As with bones, the best treat for dogs is the safest treat. So, you need to prepare the antlers in such a way as to minimize the risk of them breaking into splinters.
What you’d want to do is blanch and simmer the antlers. This means first boiling the antlers in a pot on low heat. Then, immediately after they’ve boiled, remove them and put them in cold water. Wait exactly one minute and remove the deer antlers from the cold water as well.
This is done to both remove any harmful bacteria from the antlers while preventing them from breaking into splinters.
Additional Tips For Giving Your Dog Deer Antlers
Here are a couple more things to note before giving your dog antler treats:
- Wait until the dog is old enough. Pups under 6 months of age shouldn’t be given antlers.
- Pick the right size. Giving a larger antler to a small dog is an obvious mistake. However, giving a small piece to a large dog can be even more disastrous.
- Check the quality if you’re buying commercial antler treats.
What Type Of Antlers Is Best For Dogs?
That will depend on your dog’s breed and health. Here are the main distinctions between the different types of antlers:
- Deer antlers are harder than most other types. They also come in various sizes which is great as long as your dog’s teeth are healthy enough for the hard texture.
- Elk antlers are typically larger and are often sold in split form. They can also vary a lot in density depending on which part of the antler has been taken.
- Moose antlers are significantly softer than other varieties. Pick them if you’re worried about your dog’s teeth. Moose antlers also tend to be available in various sizes.
- Water buffalo horns are also available albeit rarely. They too can come in various sizes and with different texture hardness.
Are Antlers The Best Bones For Dogs?
All things considered, antlers are a better treat for dogs than bones. They can be harder to find, however, especially if you don’t hunt. And, they do have their own set of drawbacks so you should still be very careful when you choose what to give your dog.
So, How Can Antlers Make A Dog Sick, and Should You Avoid Them Altogether?
Antlers can indeed lead to issues but those can be circumvented with proper care and preparation. All in all, if you’re a hunter or even if you get them commercially, there are ways to make them a healthy and safe treat for your dog. Just remember to be careful, to prepare the antlers well, and to monitor your dog’s health.
Learn more about: Are Watermelons Good For Dogs Or Are There Some Risks You Should Know?