If you’re a proud puppy parent or even just a dog-lover who has seen “Marley and Me” one too many times, it’s easy to close your eyes and imagine every owner’s worst nightmare: you come home from a long day of work or a much-needed date night to utter chaos. Upon opening the front door, you aren’t just greeted by your enthusiastic canine companion—but also the mess she made in your living room! From chewed sofa legs and torn-up carpet edging to the now-shredded paperwork that was sitting on your kitchen table, a chew-crazy dog is no laughing matter.
To avoid these types of unpleasant surprises, many owners turn to chew toys to occupy pets and save the furniture. When considering types of toys, which chews are best for your pet? What chews should be avoided? Are there some you can make at home? Here’s some info that can help you make the right choices for your pup.
Why Do Dogs Chew?
Chewing is a healthy, normal habit for your dog—gnawing on toys or bones can contribute to oral health, keep your pup out of trouble, and provide a healthy way for him to let off some steam. The best part? He won’t damage your house or make a mess in the process! Chewing also releases positive brain chemicals and reduces feelings of anxiety or frustration, keeping your dog more content.
Dogs of all ages (but especially teething puppies) use chewing as a means to explore their surroundings. In teething pups, chewing also helps release pain resulting from tooth growth. For older dogs, chewing helps to maintain oral health and keep their teeth clean and jaws strong.
Promoting Safe Chewing Habits
Many factors contribute to the relative safety (or danger) of a toy. Depending on your dog’s size, age, activity level, and preferences, there are nearly countless chews to choose from for your four-legged kids. From rawhide to real bones, frozen raw bones, plastic & fabric toys, and antler chews, choosing the best chew for your dog can get overwhelming pretty quickly.
Advantages of Antler Dog Chews
Let’s focus on elk antler chews. These types of chews are long-lasting, decently sized, and can keep your pet chomping away for weeks on end! Antler chews are also one of the safest pet chews on the market. Differing primarily in density and bone marrow amounts (elk antlers tend to be superior), elk antlers make the perfect toy for any chew-crazy canine. Antler chews offer pets a humane, sustainable, and nutritious (and delicious!) snack.
Are Elk Antlers Safe for My Dog?
Another advantage of elk antler chews over more traditional chews is their natural availability. However, be careful about picking up any old antler found in the woods for your pet. Wild-shed antlers, or antlers that animals in the deer family lose naturally with age and seasons, can be dangerous for your dog. With a high splitting potential and the chance that they carry diseases found in wild deer and elk, wild shed antlers—while free and convenient—aren’t the ideal chew toy for your furry friend.
DIY Deer Antler Dog Chews
We don’t recommend making your own antler chews. Instead, consider purchasing ready-to-chew antlers from a reputable brand to ensure your dog’s safety. But if you do really want to give the DIY method a go, here’s a general overview of the process.
Do Some Research
Since we already know finding antlers in the woods isn’t the best plan, purchase your raw antlers from a farm, sanctuary or reservation where the source animals are well taken care of and regularly tested for health issues.
Check for Antler Freshness
As antlers age, their bone marrow yellows, giving you a reliable sign that your antlers are old. With practice and research, you can learn to determine the approximate age of an antler based on coloring and durability. You’ll want to stay away from older, dry antlers, which tend to splinter and could injure your dog!
Once you’ve confirmed the freshness of your antler, it’s time to make it more “dog-friendly.” Using hand and power tools, click, snip or saw the pointy ends of your antlers off, and sand down rough surfaces to avoid anything that could puncture or irritate your dog’s mouth. Finish off the process by simmering the bone in a pot of water for 30 minutes to remove any harmful bacteria.
Know When Enough Is Enough
Antlers, deer in particular, are hard. Really hard. If your pet is chewing excessively, it may be time to give the antler a time out. At the risk of wearing down tooth enamel or damaging your pet’s jaw, keep an eye on your buddy while he chews. As a general rule of thumb, don’t let him chew more than an inch each day.
Let Your Dog Chew in Confidence
Making your own antler chews can be a messy, time-consuming process, and there’s no way to guarantee that your fresh antlers are completely safe. So instead of heading to the woods next time your dog is in need of a toy, check out our elk antlers for your furry family member’s next chew. Premium grade, water rinsed only (with no harsh chemicals), and locally-sourced from our own elk ranch in Minnesota, all our antlers are tested for Chronic Wasting Disease and Tuberculosis—guaranteeing your pet a long-lasting, safe, and yummy chew. Feel free to reach out with any questions!