Q: Do the antlers smell?
A: Antlers have a unique aroma and scent that dogs are attracted to due to their natural state and nutritional content. Split antler chews may have a slight odor, but whole antler chews or tips with minimum spongy center exposed are virtually odorless (unless you make a habit of sticking them up your nose).
Disadvantages & Risks of Deer Antlers for Dogs
Antlers are very hard, which might imply they are a great treat for dogs that chew aggressively. However, really aggressive chewing could invite a tooth fracture. For all other dogs deer antlers are a very safe treat.
Even though antlers may seem like a wonder treat, they come with their risks. As antlers are very hard, if your dog is particularly aggressive when it comes to chewing, he will be at risk of fracturing his teeth. This can cause pulp to become exposed and a very painful scenario. To minimise the chances of this happening, you should always supervise your dog when he is gnawing on a deer antler.
The other concern is the risk of choking on or swallowing the antler, which could cause a life-threatening obstruction. Luckily, antlers do not break off in pieces or shatter like bones do, and so this is only a real issue when the antler has been worn down to a small-sized piece which could be swallowed. As a rule of thumb, if your dog can easily fit it entirely in his mouth, then it is too small. In this case, when the antler has become that small, it should be thrown away.
Deer antlers are good treats for puppies, especially when they are teething to relieve the discomfort of their adult teeth coming through. They must be provided with caution though, as puppies are more at risk of swallowing objects. Therefore, make sure you select a large enough size which cannot be swallowed, yet small enough for your puppy to still chew it effectively.
Benefits of Deer Antlers for Dogs
Antlers are made up of mainly calcium and phosphorus, but also includes other vital minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, sulphur and zinc. These minerals are vital for keeping bones and muscles strong.
The main health benefit of deer antlers though, is their use in aiding in dental care for your dog. Gnawing helps to remove plaque on the teeth, and keep them clean. Most dental treats on the market are either full of calories, or brittle and can break off in your dog’s mouth. Deer antlers are neither of these, and an excellent solution to helping your dog maintain a healthy mouth.
How do you prepare deer antlers for dogs?
Lastly, antlers will last your dog a long time. The average lifespan of an antler chew can be as long as six months to a year. With that said, this will depend on the size and cut of the antler, the hardness of the core, and how aggressive of a chewer your dog is.