It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to play Santa and fill up your loved ones’ stockings with plenty of toys, treats, and goodies—and that includes your pup.
Instead of a typical toy, a bag of treats, or a standard chew, a lot of pet owners try to get in the holiday spirit with their gift, making dog antlers a popular choice this time of year.
But what’s the deal with antlers? Are they a safe addition to your pup’s stocking this holiday season?
What Are Antlers (For Dogs)?
Antlers (for dogs) are chew toys made from – you guessed it – antlers, typically elk or deer. Just like a bone, antlers smell all sorts of delicious to your pup, and they’ll want to hunker down and chew on the antlers for hours at a time.
The Pros Of Dog Antlers
Dog antlers are popular for a reason. There are a lot of upsides to this category of chew, including:
Antlers Are Long-Lasting
When you buy your dog a chew, you don’t want to have to replace it every five minutes. And if you get your dog antlers, you definitely won’t have to.
Dog antlers are one of the most long-lasting chew options on the market. Depending on your dog, it can take them weeks (or even months!) to get through their antlers. It’s a win-win; your dog gets a chew that will keep him occupied for weeks/months at a time and you get a nice, long break from dog shopping.
Dogs Love Antlers
When you get your dog a treat or a toy, you want to give them something they’re going to love. And that’s definitely the case with dog antlers.
Most dogs go crazy for antlers. They smell good, they taste good, and they deliver hours of chew-centric entertainment—the perfect fit for pups who like to get their chew on.
Antlers Are More “Natural” Than Some Other Chews
Giving your dog too many processed treats isn’t good for them. Since they come directly from a deer or elk—and aren’t manufactured in a factory—antlers are a more natural option for a treat or chew
Antlers Can Help Keep Teeth Clean
When your dog chews on antlers, it can help scrape away any plaque that’s built up on their teeth. Not only will this keep your dog’s chompers looking nice and clean, but it can also help prevent periodontal disease.
The Cons Of Antlers
Antlers definitely have their pros but the flipside is also true. There are a lot of potential cons involved with giving your dog antlers, including:
Antlers Can Cause Tooth Damage
The biggest con associated with dog antlers is the potential for tooth damage. Dog antlers are extremely hard, and any time you give your dog something hard to chew on, you put them at risk for tooth damage.
Not only are broken teeth extremely painful for your pup, but they can also lead to more serious problems, like infection or abscesses. And fixing your dog’s teeth? It’s certainly not cheap. Broken teeth (and all the potential complications that go with it) can end up costing you thousands of dollars to repair.
Broken teeth are a nasty business for you and your dog—and dog antlers can put your dog at serious risk for tooth damage.
Antlers Are Expensive
If your dog breaks a tooth on his antler, it’s going to be expensive. But even if he doesn’t break a tooth?
It’s still going to be expensive.
Dog antlers are one of the priciest chews on the market—and a high-quality antler can cost you anywhere from $20 up to $60. Do they last a long time? Sure. But not long enough to make up for their hefty price tag.
Antlers Can Cause Blockages
When you give your dog a chew, you want to make sure they can consume it safely.
But with antlers, that’s not guaranteed.
When your dog is chewing on an antler, there’s a risk it can splinter and break into smaller pieces. If ingested, those smaller pieces can get lodged in their mouth or throat (creating a choking hazard) or their intestines (which can cause internal issues).
Often times, you won’t notice that an antler has splintered until your dog either chokes or starts showing symptoms of an intestinal blockage—and at that point, emergency intervention might be necessary.
Are Antlers Safe For Your Dog?
So, there are both pros and cons to dog antlers. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to one question—are antlers safe for your dog?
And the answer is—probably not.
First, let’s talk about who antlers are definitely not safe for. If your dog is a puppy (with still-growing teeth), a senior, or struggles with tooth decay and/or gum disease, antlers are a huge no-no. Since your pup is already at an increased risk of tooth breakage, introducing a hard chew like an antler is asking for damage.
Even if your dog has a healthy set of chompers, antlers are still a risky choice; if the chew splinters, it can still cause a choking hazard or internal blockage. If you do decide to give your dog antlers, make sure they only chew when you’re watching them; that way, if the antler splinters or breaks, you can get them away from your pup before they cause any damage.
Alternatives To Antlers
So, antlers might not be the best option to put in your pup’s stocking this holiday season. But there are plenty of alternatives that will satisfy your dog’s need to chew—and keep them just as entertained as they’d be with antlers.
If your dog loves to get their chew on, a Super Chewer Toy is a great option to keep their chompers occupied—without any of the risks associated with antlers.
When shopping for a chew toy, look for something rubber, like “Mikkel’s Rocking Stocking” or “Ray the X-Ray Squirrel.” Rubber has a lot more give than antlers (or other hard chews), so your dog can chomp until their heart’s content—and won’t risk breaking a tooth in the process.
Another great option for dogs who love to chew? Spiky Core Ball Toys.
Spiky Core Ball Toys (like “Benji the Bouncing Tiger” or “Mr. Chewniverse’s Muscles“) are like two toys in one. There’s a soft plush toy that your dog can chew and rip to his heart’s desire (perfect for puppies or older pups!)—and once they get through that plush, there’s a super durable, super squeaky ball toy waiting in the middle.
This two-in-one toy is a win for your pup (two new toys to play with!) and for you (one less toy you have to buy!).
Part of the reason antlers appeal to dogs is that they give them something to chew on—but another part of their appeal is the fact that they keep your dog engaged. And another, more tooth-friendly way to keep your pup engaged for hours at a time? Thinker Toys.
Thinker toys (like the “Dog Brick Puzzle“) are like puzzles for pups; your pup has to figure out how to solve the puzzle and get to the treat waiting inside—which will keep them engaged and entertained for a good, long time.
Part of the reason dogs love to chew? It’s a way to work off energy. But it’s certainly not the only way—and that’s where Fetch Toys come in.
Playing fetch with your pup is a great way for your pup to blow off some steam and work off excess energy. Grab a fetch toy (like the “Best Balls Ever“) and spend a few hours a day playing fetch with your pup—it’ll tire him out and by the time the game is done? He’ll be ready to go to sleep (no chewing necessary).
So, to wrap things up, dog antlers aren’t the best stocking stuffer for your pup this holiday season. But that’s okay – because the best gift you can give your pup? The Super Chewer BarkBox.
With the Super Chewer BarkBox, you’ll get a carefully selected collection of two high-quality toys, bags of treats, and durable chews delivered straight to your door every month. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving—and your pup will thank you long after the holiday season is over.