Updated: Feb 18
When you think of antlers, what do you instantly think of? Is it Rudolph the Red nose Reindeer and his mates? Maybe it's a unique lamp fixture, or curtain tie backs found in a large country manor home.
For us here at Harris Hounds, we think of quality dog chews.
Harris Hounds stocks 100% naturally shed British antlers, sourced from the Scottish Highlands. Deer will shed (or cast) their antlers from December through to late March, but why?
Antlers go through a yearly life cycle. From Spring, the male deer will graze and forage the new plants, which helps their antlers to grow quickly over a two to four month period. As female deer begin to come into season over the Summer months, the high levels of testosterone in the males slows antler growth, and the veins and arteries in the antlers constrict and cut off blood and nutrient supply. The velvet coating that is found on antlers up to this time will fall off, revealing the mature antler's bone-type structure for mating in Autumn.
As mating season occurs, many bucks (males) will fight for dominance of land and does (females), during which time some antlers can break. The Winter season is when the antlers will naturally shed over a two to three week period. This happens due to the drop in testosterone following mating, and the tissue at the base of the antler weakens naturally and eventually falls off, causing no harm or discomfort to the deer. The cycle begins once more in the Spring, to prepare for the new mating season.
Why are Deer Antlers good for Dogs?
There are many nutrients and a blood supply to help the antler grow during its cycle, which dry up inside the antler once it has naturally shed. Antlers are a great source of calcium, magnesium, fibre and iron for your dogs.
The structure of an antler is a hardened honeycomb bone-like tissue, meaning antler dog chews are long lasting, and low in fat. They are also odourless, and unlike many other dog treats, do not become slimy or out of date, meaning your dog can keep coming back to this tasty treat time and time again.
Tips for Using Your Antler Dog Chews from Harris Hounds
Antlers chews make wonderful chews for dogs, but just like any dog chew it is important to be careful and to supervise your dog. Here are a few tips to help your dog to enjoy the antler chew and keep him or her safe.
Make sure your antler dog chew is large enough so that there is no possibility that your dog could choke on it. If you find that the antler chews that you have purchased are not large enough for your dog please speak to us so we can provide a larger one.
Check your antler chew over for any possible sharp edges. If there are any, it is easy to remove them by rubbing the sharp edge against concrete or sandpaper.
Wash the antler chew in warm, soapy water and rinse well.
Give the antler chew to your dog watch him while he chews it for at least the first few times.
Make sure your dog is gnawing on the antler instead of trying to break the antler chew in half. If he is bearing down hard on the antler, it is best to take it away (don't forget to give him a treat for giving it up!), since chewing any hard chew this way could damage his teeth.
Do not allow your dog to chew more than an inch of the antler per day.
Take the the antler chew away from your dog once it gets worn down to a small enough size that your dog could swallow / choke on it.
If your dog likes the antler so much that he guards it from you, you can teach him to drop the antler for a treat. If your dogs fight over their antler chews, make sure to give the chews to them when the dogs are separated.
If your dog isn't interested in the chewing the antler, try rubbing it with sandpaper or a nail file. If your dog still isn't interested in the antler, you could try rubbing it with a small amount of peanut butter or soaking it overnight in water in the refrigerator.
If you would like to purchase any of our Harris Hounds Dog Treats or if you would like to find out more please feel free to get in contact with us!