Monday, March 10, 2014

Chewy's Toy Box: Elk Antlers

I first heard of antlers as dog chews from our puppy school teacher. Chewy was 5 months old at the time, so she suggested a puppy split elk antler. Antler splits are cut open so the yummy marrow-y center part is exposed- great for beginning antler chewers. The second she offered it to Chewy, he took it in his mouth and would not let it go. He didn't even chew it; he just held it. He walked around the store with it while we finished our shopping. Good thing the barcode sticker was coated in plastic, or it would have been a soggy mess!

Chewy's first antler

Sometimes he fell asleep from chewing so much

Chewy loved his antler, and would chew on it for long periods of time. He also liked to fling it around and chase it. It kept him pretty entertained. Eventually he chewed off all of the marrow and started working on the harder outer shell. Soon his antler got pretty small and I threw it out so it wouldn't be a choking hazard. Chewy was quite bummed...until he forgot about it a minute later.

For his half birthday, I got him a new antler. This time it was a whole piece instead of a split so he would be more challenged. He started at the ends and worked his way in.

Crazy eyes going for the munch!

One day's progress Three weeks' progress

Since then, Chewy's gone through a few antlers. We also tried a deer antler, but Chewy went through it VERY quickly. He was able to bite off somewhat large pieces and then crunch and eat them, instead of scraping off little bits like he does with elk antlers. Antlers are hard and could potentially break teeth, so crunching on them is not good!

I used to only give Chewy his antler for a few hours a day because otherwise he would chew through it too quickly, but now that he's past the crazy puppy chewing stage, I just leave them out and he chews them when he wants to. Sometimes he will hold two at once and alternate his chewing. He typically props his antler on something so it doesn't slide away while he's chewing, like his bed, a stuffie, or someone's foot. He likes to chew under the table while we eat dinner, so he usually goes for my dad's feet or slippers at the head of the table.

Antler chewing can get a little messy because of the bits that get scraped off, so Chewy isn't allowed to have them on the couch. Sometimes he brings them on the couch when he thinks I'm not looking, and then when I walk towards him, he bolts off. The good news is the antler shavings come right out of his bedding in the washing machine. Also, Chewy seems to be leaving fewer antler shavings now. Maybe because he is past his frenzied puppy chewing stage. Or maybe he has become a neater eater?

Benefits of elk antler chews:
-Contain calcium and phosphorus (and other nutrients) for healthy bones and teeth
-Help clean teeth: The textured surface of the antler scrapes gunk off teeth
-Virtually odorless to people: After chewing, they just smell like dog spit to me
-Do not splinter: No need to worry about splinters piercing internal organs
-Renewable resource: Elk grow and shed their antlers every year
-Come in various shapes and sizes: You can find one to complement your dog's chewing habits, and each antler is completely different so they don't get bored
-Keeps chewers occupied: Expends energy and satisfies their need to chew

Tips for buying elk antler chews:
-The more brown on the outside, the fresher the antler: Antlers that have been lying outside for a long time get bleached by the sun and get chalky
-Splits are great for beginners to get acquainted with antlers: Make sure your dog is whittling away at the antler, not biting it
-Whole antler pieces are more challenging because they have to chew through the outer part to get to the marrow
-Make sure the antler is large enough so it does not present a choking hazard

Excuse me, I'm busy.


  1. I love antlers! I can go through any bone on one day but antlers take me about a mouth to finish! Thank you for sharing the tips when buying antlers, that will definitely come in handy! Enjoy! :)

  2. So funny..I'm chewing through my antler now!