Can Dogs Be Allergic to Antlers?
A while ago, we bought a deer antler for Alfie, our Border Terrier. Alfie is allergic to so many things, so I wondered if dogs could be allergic to antlers.
So, can dogs be allergic to antlers? There is no evidence that dogs can be allergic to antlers. Antlers are pure bone and are not known to be an allergen to dogs. Even if a dog is allergic to venison, the antlers can still be considered allergy-free.
My research clearly pointed to the fact that antlers could pose no threat to our dog as far as allergies were concerned. But regarding us buying antlers for Alfie again in the future, well that’s another story.
As with many things in life, it’s worth doing a little digging around for information with anything new in your life. Below you can take a look at the things I discovered about antlers for dogs.
Despite Being Allergy-Free, Are Antlers Safe for Dogs?
First of all, I did of course study the possibility at least, that dogs may have allergy risks regarding antlers.
I first of all wanted to know what deer antlers are made of.
Interestingly, antlers are what you might call true bone. That means that antlers are not a separate thing compared to the skull, but are part of the skull itself.
Horns on animals are not bone, they are a separate structure that grows independently and separately from the skull.
So, since deer antlers are bone (and dogs do tend to rather like bones), then antlers appear to be the perfect item for a dog to be given.
Except that antlers are far from perfect for dogs.
While we don’t need to be concerned about allergies, something else is lurking in the background to cause concerns for any responsible dog owner.
Embrace Pet Insurance
Cow hooves, antlers and cooked bones are considered potentially problematic and should be avoided.
The reason that vets and insurance companies advise against antlers, cow hooves and cooked bones for dogs, is the high percentage of dogs that damage their teeth while chewing on them.
Around 20% of dogs will suffer a fractured tooth in their lifetime. Two dogs out of every ten!
That’s a lot of pain for dogs and a lot of earnings for vets (around $400 on average).
The main teeth to be affected are what we non-vets would call fangs.
There are various degrees of tooth fracture and each one has a different level of seriousness and of course expense to put right.
What Are Safer Alternatives to Antlers for Dogs?
Well, since we now know what vets and the insurance companies advise against, that kind of leaves us with what’s safe.
If antlers, cow hooves and cooked bones need to be crossed-off the list, then that leaves us with raw bones and softer chews.
I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want is our dog suffering pain from fracturing a tooth.
One thing that my research didn’t reveal was an issue that we had with Alfie. Alfie always used to choke on any hard chew such as rawhide sticks.
He’d chew off a piece that was too large to swallow, but he would try to swallow it anyway.
Frequently we’d have to intervene to remove the offending chunk from his throat.
Hard toys may not pose allergy issues, but they can be far from safe.
Plus of course, a dog’s digestive system will not be able to break down hard materials which could lead to digestive blockages. Amazingly, Alfie had to have an operation for simply swallowing grass. The grass formed a ball inside him and surgery was the only way out.
If You Are Still Considering Antlers for Your Dog After All the Warnings, Then Here’s a Quick Round Up of the Different Types
Split Elk Antlers
These antlers are split down the centre to expose the marrow inside. If you are still keen to buy antlers for your dog then these might be your safest bet. They are softer than the whole antlers because the softer marrow centre is exposed.
Whole Elk Antlers
These, as the name suggests are whole antlers that have not been cut down the middle. With these antlers, the outer layer is intact and this makes them a more challenging chewing experience for your dog.
Puppies, smaller dogs or non-aggressive chewers may struggle with these antlers.
Whole Deer Antlers
If your dog is Superman and wears his cape 24/7, then feel free to get him these hard-as-rock antlers. The outer core is hard and the centre isn’t any less challenging.
I still cannot possibly recommend antlers to anyone to buy for their dog, but the choice for your own dog is up to you.
Can I Give My Dog Antlers I Have Found in the Wild?
You can, but first a little preparation…
If you happen upon antlers while out trekking, then you can take them home and prepare them for your dog.
Preparation is a quite straightforward affair.
Before your dog can break his teeth on it (I mean chew it nicely), you have to sanitize it first.
Sanitizing an antler bone takes nothing more than boiling it for around 45 minutes. It’ll be slightly soft after boiling, but hardens up again once cool.
Well, this post has been a bit of a journey really!
We first discussed (and dismissed) the possibility of dogs being allergic to antlers.
We then looked at the dangers and risks of giving antlers to your dog to chew on. We saw that pet insurers and vets advise against antlers, cow hooves and cooked bones to dogs.
Safe alternatives for antlers came next, then we delved into the different types of antlers for dogs.
Finally, we had a chat about how to prepare antlers found in the wild.
I think… We have thoroughly discussed antlers for dogs : )
And no, dogs can’t be allergic to them.
I wish you well : )