Helena Ricketts is a blogger, freelance writer, artist, gardener, and an animal companion owner.
How Are Deer Antlers Harvested?
This was one of my biggest concerns when I decided to try deer antler for my two dogs. Just like millions of other people, I have seen the videos and read the stories on unethical harvesting of deer and elk antlers for people and dogs. I looked for a reputable company to purchase from—a company with an excellent reputation that ensures that their antlers are harvested from shedding.
Deer grow a brand new set of antlers every year. Antler growth usually starts in the early spring and the growth continues until the fall when the amount of sunlight in a day shortens. Sometimes, deer will shed both antlers at the same time, but some deer will shed one and then the other later.
Each breed of deer is different, so there will be a different schedule for antler growth and shedding for each type. Antler shedding happens when the deer's antler just simply falls off of his head. When this happens, the missing antler will leave an actual bloody looking hole where it once was in the deer's head. This hole heals very quickly.
Humanely-harvested antlers are simply picked up after they have been shed. Inhumane harvesting consists of the animal being caught and the antlers being removed from their heads. This is why I find it extremely important to purchase from a company that humanely harvests their products.
What Are the Benefits of Deer Antler for Your Dog?
Deer antler has quite a few benefits and the first thing I will touch on is that they have a much better nutrition profile than rawhide bones. Since they are 100% natural and an animal product, you don't have to worry about anything being added to them that shouldn't be.
Deer antler contains:
It is also known to help keep tartar buildup to a minimum on a dog's teeth. I personally saw this benefit in Spudward. Before I purchased and gave these to both of my dogs, he had started to have issues with tartar build up on his teeth. Since I have to be careful what I give him, I decided to turn to an all natural product and the deer antler worked very well for this. His teeth are now very clean and his gums look very healthy.
Organic vs. Natural?
Organic vs. natural anything can be a tough choice for some people and it was for me when I started shopping for what I thought would be the best option for my dogs. For the deer antler, I decided to go with organic.
- There really isn't much of a price difference.
- The company guarantees the antlers were harvested from shedding.
- I am assured that there is no chemical treatment.
It is obviously completely up to the individual but those are my reasons for choosing to purchase organic.
Sophie's Opinion of Deer Antler
Sophie is my old Siberian Husky. She is approximately 13 years old and is very picky about what she eats, chews on and plays with. I was a bit skeptical on what her reaction to these would be because it could go either way.
The first time I presented a deer antler to her, she sniffed it for a couple of minutes and acted like she really wasn't interested. A few minutes later, she changed her mind and dove into it. Chewing for hours.
Her antler lasted a couple of weeks with daily chewing. She doesn't do anything with hers except for lay on the floor with it and gnaw away but the fact that she visits it every day tells me that she does in fact really like it.
Spudward's Opinion on Deer Antler
Spudward is a younger dog than Sophie. He's five years old and will eat just about anything. I expected him to love these immediately and he did exactly that. He took his first one out of my hand immediately when I presented it to him. No sniffing required.
These quickly became his ultimate favorite and even the racquet balls that he adores have taken a back seat. That says a lot with him because up until that point his racquet balls were his favorite toys.
He will lay with it. He will throw it up in the air and chase it. He chews on it for hours at a time. He will bring it to me for me to throw it for him. That dog loves his deer antler.
Why I Say Yes to Deer Antlers for Dogs
- The dogs have finished their first bag of the antlers and I have to say, I was really impressed with these for a few different reasons.
- Both dogs had noticeable improvements in their dental health. The plaque build up was removed and their gums look nice and healthy.
- The antlers lasted quite a bit longer than the raw hide bones that I used to give them.
- They do not splinter like animal bones do and in my opinion are safer for the dogs to chew on.
- They are all natural and packed with nutrition.
- Both dogs really love them.
I do keep an eye on any toy or chew item that I give to my dogs because these will eventually be chewed down to small nubs that will need to be taken away to prevent any chance of the dog choking or swallowing the nub and getting caught in the digestive tract.
These are a big yes and have become a regular addition to the dog's healthcare and toy box.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Mary Wickison from Brazil on March 25, 2017:
You have introduced me to something completely new, I've never heard of it.
I can see that dogs would enjoy them.
As I was unaware they were used as dog treats, I had no idea some were taken whilst the animal was alive. It is getting to the point that some humans will stoop quite low to make money.
Thanks for keeping me up to date.