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Are Antlers Safe For Dogs

Originally published by Petcentric’s Marking Our Territory Blog by Will & Eko

Cute Pug dog lying on hardwood floor

In my video from a couple weeks ago I showed the pups with antlers.

dog with a santa hat and a dog with antlers in front of the Christmas tree

No, not like that! Those antlers don’t come out until December

I’m talking about deer or elk antlers used as chew toys. I first discovered antlers… well actually, Eko first discovered antlers. While staying on a friend’s farm in Montana Eko had free range of the property. When out walking, Eko dashed off and came back with an antler he discovered in the field.

dog laying outside with an antler

He was quite please with himself. Eko spent the entire week chomping on his prize

dog laying on a rug looking at an antler

In fact, Eko spent over two years gnawing that bad boy down

It wasn’t until Eko had the antler for nearly a year that I first heard rumblings about antlers potentially being dangerous for a dog’s teeth/gums. I immediately checked in with my vet, who noted Eko’s teeth looked great. Eko was delighted he got to keep his favorite chew treat.

That said, it is very possible for dogs to injure themselves with antlers. There are two main factors to consider – one, how hard your dog chews, and two, how hard the antler is. If you’re interested in buying an antler for your pup I recommend avoiding the pet store, where you’re likely to find older/tougher antlers.

I buy my antlers through ebay. After deer/elk shed their antlers, people gather them, cut them and sell them directly. There are multiple reputable shops which allow to you pick size, and more importantly, toughness.

dog laying on the couch with an antler

The reason dogs love antlers is the tasty/healthy marrow on the inside.

dog chewing on an antler

It’s a fun challenge for dogs to gnaw the edges of the antler to get at the marrow

For those worried about their pup’s teeth, I recommend starting with a “soft” core. The antler will wear down quickly, but it will also be easiest on teeth. If everything goes well, you can try “medium” cores. These are what I buy for Eko and Penny.

dog sleeping with his paw on his nose

Penny loves her antler so much she’ll spoon with it while napping.

dog looking at the camera with antler in his mouth

And when I used to only have one antler, Eko would give me the saddest looks when it was time to share with Penny.

set of antlers

Problem solved.

Antlers are expensive, but I’ve found them to be well-worth the cost. They’re long lasting, have no smell/residue, and the dogs love them.

The usual caveats apply – you want to supervise your pup when they try their antler, and you want to check with your vet to make sure your pup’s teeth/gums are healthy and undamaged.

Antlers certainly aren’t for every dog (especially overly-aggressive chewers) but for many pups antlers are a great substitute for the traditional dog bone.



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