Antlers a safe alternative to bones?

Dog Food Advisor Forums Diet and Health Antlers a safe alternative to bones?

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  • #98041 Report Abuse

    Hi all,

    Do any of you give your dog antlers as a chew toy and to help with teeth cleaning? I’ve been researching this and there’s been several schools of thought: the only definitive thing I found is that there are various types of antlers, some of which may be too hard for dogs and too low quality. Elk was the most cited for being durable but soft enough for ideal chewing.

    Since I’m raw minded, I’m looking at raw bones as the alternative for teeth cleaning, as long as they are soft enough not to break teeth, yet encourages the dog to scrape down on them, removing tartar and helping to keep their teeth much cleaner. From what I gathered, weight bearing bones (with the possible exception of knuckle bones) can be too dense and more riskier, as opposed to bones from small game. It can be tough to get consistent, good quality bones on a regular basis, so I’m researching to see if antlers could be a safe alternative or the next best thing. (I’ve also looked at the slow roasted bones they sell in pet stores, but they are pretty messy and still suffer a reputation for splintering risks).

    Thanks for any insights!

    #98042 Report Abuse

    Per the search engine here, a variety of opinions
    I have found that daily brushing makes a big difference, takes about 5 minutes a day. YouTube has some excellent how to videos.

    #98112 Report Abuse

    Hi, I’ve heard a few dogs breaking their teeth when chewing antlers or goat horns…. When my 11yr old cat had bad tarter on his teeth his vet recommended giving him chicken wing cut in 1/2 for breakfast every morning or give twice a week & what a different the chicken wings made after 2 months Jeremy’s teeth were clean, chicken bone is the softest bone out of all the raw bones, does a good job cleaning teeth & the dog or cat enjoys eating them… if your dogs are big look at chicken carcass are excellent….

    #98127 Report Abuse

    Thanks anon101, I’d like to take a more natural approach, but brushing is something I will consider if bone chewing doesn’t do the trick.

    Susan, my dog would be a cattle dog, so medium sized. There’s a butcher shop by me that sells bones all the time on the cheap, but the variety can vary wildly. I think that’s my ideal, but where I might need a cleaner alternative or something for travel I’ve been exploring alternatives. It’s interesting to learn how the little things can make a difference. For example, bones that are smoked with flavor can get dogs so excited that they excessively chew and wear down their teeth as a result. With antlers, some can break dog’s teeth because they’re so hard (such as deer antlers) while others are more safer, such as elk antlers. Recently shedded antlers are also softer than those that have aged over time (and hence become more harder). I imagine all the horror stories about antlers was due to the mistake of assuming all antlers are the same, but like bones they vary wildly in density and quality. 😳

    #98128 Report Abuse

    Best of luck. Oh, and make sure you know where the nearest 24/7 emergency clinic is located and how long it will take you to get there. (excerpt below) click on link for full article.
    Cow hooves and pigs ears are what the name implies. 
    Marrow bones are from the long bones of cows and pigs.
    Rawhides are the skin of cows. 
    Antlers come from either deer or elk. 
    So what do you think bully sticks are?  Think about this one.  Give up?  They are bull penises! Hmm.
    There are some dangers with all of these items. All of these have the potential and can cause intestinal obstructions, but equally important are the dangers that come from the way these are processed.  They are first soaked for hours in a caustic lye solution to digest the undesirables off the skin and then to remove the lye the skin is then soaked in bleach solution.  Sounds yummy. Many of the rawhides come from China where they have been known to use arsenic compounds to preserve them. 
    There is no regulation of rawhides or pigs ears.  You really have no idea where these come from.
    Marrow bones and antlers cause many broken teeth.  A good rule of thumb is if you don’t want me to hit you in the kneecap with it, your dog should not be chewing on it. I can not tell you how many expensive extractions are the result of dogs chewing bones.

    #98130 Report Abuse

    Hi FrankiesDoggie,

    My advice is if you want to maintain a healthy mouth get out the brush. A brush is necessary to sweep away the plaque that collects in the space between the gum and the tooth, Bone chewing cleans the crown of the tooth,,, but that is really more of a cosmetic problem than a health concern.

    When the mouths of African Wild dogs and feral cats that ate a natural diet were examined it was found that they had clean teeth but the incidence of periodontal disease was quite high not to mention the fractured teeth that comes from bone chewing.

    #98131 Report Abuse

    Hi anon101,
    Your link from a pet insurance company made me recall this story. The owner gave the dog a bone to chew. The dog in the course of chewing on it/eating it got it stuck in the back of the throat and it was blocking the airway. Lucky for the dog the owner noted the problem and rushed him to the vet where the dog was promptly sedated and a scope was used to retrieve the bone. The owners were so thankful they had insurance to cover the fees. BUT the insurance company denied the claim because the owner had purposefully given the dog the bone.

    #98132 Report Abuse

    Yep, and get in the back and sides/insides (regarding brushing) I even use a battery operated adult tooth brush!
    My vet is amazed at how good my dogs teeth look. I have seniors that have never needed a professional cleaning. That being said, some dogs just have lousy teeth (genetic) and may require a cleaning and extractions at least once or twice per lifetime, no matter what you do.

    #98133 Report Abuse

    I even use a battery operated adult tooth brush!

    Interesting, what brand do you use?

    #98134 Report Abuse

    Hi, Aimee
    I thought of that, if your vet advises you not to give bones and documents it in the pet’s medical records. The insurance company may have a loophole to deny payment if the pet owner acted against medical advice?

    #98135 Report Abuse

    Oral B or what ever is marked down at CVS or your favorite drugstore.
    I would start with a regular medium adult brush, when they get used to it (a month or two) then you can go to battery operated. I like Petrodex chicken flavored toothpaste, the 6.2 oz tube is the most economical. I get it from chewy dot com
    Start slow.

    #98136 Report Abuse

    I told my vet about the daily brushings that I do, he told me that he tells clients all the time to brush their dogs teeth once a day (twice a day is even better), but they don’t listen to him.
    I told him, I don’t think they realize what a difference it can make.
    I would not want his job. Poor guy……

    #98137 Report Abuse

    Hii anon,

    Does your vet utilize social media? If yes and you agree to it it would be great for the vet to take pics of your dog’s mouth and post through social media to spread the word about what a huge health difference brushing makes.

    Hi FrankiesDoggie,
    I use a Crest Spinbrush on mine. I find using the electric to be a lot easier. With a traditional brush my dogs would just try to suck the flavoring agent off the brush. With the spin brush that funny feeling on their tongue keeps them from doing that.

    I introduced the sound first and paired with food, then the vibration aspect starting by placing the unit on their shoulder and pairing with food then moving gradually forward and in to the mouth.

    #98138 Report Abuse

    Thanks for sharing! *jots down notes*

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