Tag Archives: dog treats

Antler Chews: Are They Safe for Your Dog?

Should you give your dog antlers to chew?
Are antlers a safer option to other chews on the market?
Are all antlers the same?
How are antlers “graded” and what does it mean?

Dogs are natural chewers. Whether it’s a puppy exploring his new world through his mouth, or adult dogs chewing to release pent-up energy and/or stress, most dogs enjoy this instinctive behavior.

While almost anything is better than your K9 destroying your expensive leather shoes or couch to indulge their need to chew, are all chew treats created equal (and safe)?

Are all Chews Created Equal?

After the shocking revelation in 2007 about the toxic, Chinese-made dog treats sickening and even killing pets (dogs and cats); dog owners everywhere became more concerned and vigilant about the treats they were offering to their dogs.

When even more information came out about all the potentially deadly chemicals used to mass-produce rawhide in China, “safe” choices became even further limited for canine guardians. (Not to mention numerous horror studies about rawhide pieces becoming stuck or causing obstructions requiring surgery to save a dog.) Click here to learn the harmful truth behind making rawhide.

Are Antlers a Safer Option?

So, what about something more “natural,” like antlers from wild deer or elk?

Like most subjects about dog health, “expert” opinions about whether antlers are a completely safe chewing option falls between both ends of the spectrum. From slick marketing campaigns raving about the wonders of antlers for your dog’s chewing pleasure to so-called dog experts decrying even the thought of offering an antler to your dog to chew. While the controversy rages on, educate yourself on the pros and cons of antler chews for your dog.

Factors to Consider

Deciding whether an antler chew is good (or not) for your dog involves a number of factors, including:

  • What kind of chewer your dog is;
  • Your dog’s current dental health;
  • The “grade” of antler you are planning to give your dog to chew; and
  • The supplier/distributor of the antler chews and whether they sell cheaper, low-grade or inferior products.

When you know better, you can make better choices for what to safely offer your dog to chew. Knowing your own dog is the first place to start. Is your dog a heavy or aggressive chewer? The chewing needs or habits are vastly different for a Chihuahua versus a Rottweiler. Smaller teeth and jaws cannot stand up to extremely hard objects like antlers.

Also, consider your dog’s current dental health. Have they suffered from dental issues that would rule out giving them hard items to chew?

Not sure if your dog’s teeth are healthy? Click here to learn more.

If you have determined your dog’s dental health and chewing needs can tolerate hard chewing, keep reading to learn more about antler chews.

What IS an Antler?

Antlers come from moose, caribou, elk, reindeer and deer. Typically, elk antlers are the easiest ones to find.

It’s also believed that antlers do not splinter or chip as easily as some other bones or toys. While antlers may seem similar to “horns” … they are actually different. Cow horns are made from a substance call keratin; similar to our nails and hair. They also have a lining of bone inside them.

Antlers, on the other hand, are made from real bone and cartilage with a marrow core. They are actually a bony outgrowth of the animal’s skull. Since they are actual bone, they are also very hard. Antlers are typically shed each year allowing a new set to grow in their place. Antlers (unlike processed bones or rawhides) also offer nutritional value in the form of:

  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Chondroitin Sulfate
  • Glucosamine
  • Collagen
  • Magnesium
  • Iron and Zinc

For dogs fed a raw diet, bones are important to their diet. But, it is not necessary for them to eat very hard bones (like antlers or weight-bearing leg bones).

Grading Antlers: What it all Means

Antlers are “graded” on five different levels. Before you buy any kind of antler for your dog to chew, below is what you need to know first.

Grade A+ Antlers

These are the highest quality and most pristine antlers, previously reserved for high-end craft and artisan use. They constitute less than 5% of all antlers each year. Only a few stores and distributors are focused on selling antlers of this caliber.

Grade A Antlers

These antlers comprise the top 10-15% of all antlers each year. They have been shed during the current – or previous – year. These antlers will appear a little more on the light-brown side; as they have been freshly shed and have had only minimal exposure to the elements.

Grade B Antlers

This grade of antler comprises the bulk of all antlers sold online by the “high-end” brands. These antlers are easily recognized as they will be white from sun bleaching which also means they are dried out. They may also show visible marks of rodent chewing. These antlers are approximately one to two years old. While they may be sold by well-established brands, it does not mean they are “safe dog chews.” While they are not the worst of the antlers, they are definitely not the safest for your dog based on their age and being dried out which means they could splinter or chip much more easily.

Grades C and D

The final two grades are combined together because, for all intents and purposes, these antlers are “junk” and definitely not safe for your dog. These antlers are not only white from years in the sun and exposure to the elements; but there is also a white powder that can be easily scraped off the surface. In addition, the antler has almost a coral-like porous crystalline structure to it, due to having lost too much moisture. This makes it even more susceptible to breaking, splintering or chipping even with minimal effort. These antlers are commonly sold in the big-box pet stores and outdoor sports stores.

A Few Final Cautions

  • Make sure any antler product you buy and give to your dog is sourced from the USA (preferably from organically raised animals). Note: China does chemically process and ship antlers to the United States.
  • Also, make sure you buy the right size antler for your dog (one that cannot be easily swallowed).
  • Do not give puppies any kind of antlers to chew on. (The high protein content can cause stomach upset and diarrhea.)
  • And finally, if you do decide to give your dog an antler chew (or any other chew as well), always supervise them to keep them safe! No chew product is 100% safe and healthy for every dog. Digestive or dental issues, possible choking (in the mouth or throat) and intestinal obstructions are always a risk.
  • Check with your veterinarian first before giving your dog any chew product.

 


Additional Resources:

The Perils of Gum Disease in Dogs

Dogs Love These Chews, But They Fracture Teeth Like Crazy

Are Deer Antlers Safe for Dogs to Chew On?

Antlers for Dogs: Are Deer Antlers Safe for Dogs to Chew On?

Are Antlers Safe for Dogs?

Deer Antlers as a Chew Toy for Dogs

Are Deer Antlers for Dogs a Good Chew Toy?


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RECALL: Smallbatch Pets Frozen Dog Sliders

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Smallbatch Pets Frozen Dog Food Recall

Just two hours after our recent post about making your own dog treats (due to the increased recalls in dog foods/treats), a new recall came to our attention from the FDA (actually released on March 26th) about Smallbatch Pets Inc. voluntarily recalling one lot of their frozen Duckbatch Sliders (for dogs) due to potential salmonella and listeria.  (Interestingly, there’s nothing posted on the SmallBatch website at the time of writing this post.)

According to the FDA release, “the affected products are sold frozen in 3-pound bags and can be identified with the following manufacturing codes:

  • Lot #CO27
  • UPC #713757339001
  • Best By Date: 01/27/2017

and were distributed to retail pet food stores in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.”

According to the FDA release, there have been no pet or consumer illnesses reported from this product at this time. The recall was issued after “routine testing” by the FDA from a sample taken at a distributor. Eighty cases of this specific product lot were sold between the dates of February 23rd through March 10th.

Consumers who touched this contaminated product should thoroughly wash their hands and disinfect any surfaces exposed to this product. Human symptoms from being infected with salmonella and/or listeria include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Infected pets may be lethargic, have a decreased appetite and abdominal pain and also exhibit diarrhea, fever and vomiting.

If you purchased frozen Dog Duckbatch Sliders from the affected Lot #CO27, do not feed or touch the product and return to the place of purchase for a full refund or throw them out where your dog, animals or humans cannot reach them.

To read the voluntary recall release in its entirety, go to the FDA Recalls & Safety Alerts Page.

Consumers may also call Smallbatch Pets Inc., at 888-507-2712 or email them at info@smallbatchpets.com.

Are Holiday Treats Dog-Friendly?

The holidays are quickly approaching with mouth-watering smells and delectable seasonal treats!

Something else is coming too … sad, SAD puppy eyes!

While most of us will probably indulge during the season, it doesn’t necessarily mean our dogs should follow our lead.

You may actually be surprised by some of the holiday foods and/or ingredients your four-legged family member should not partake of; below is a quick list.


Want to know about additional foods and WHY they are bad for your dog?

Click here to email us for a copy of our November Newsletter!

Want a dog-friendly treat you can make in advance for those oh-so-sad puppy eyes?

Click here to email us for a copy of our November Newsletter!


iStock_000013402168XSmallAnd remember … the smaller the dog, the faster – and more toxic – the adverse effect.

So keep these items out of reach of your inquisitive (and always  hungry) resident canine!

  • Pumpkin Pie, Filling or Mix
  • Avocados and/or guacamole
  • Onions and garlic (included powdered, raw, cooked and dehydrated)
  • Grapes, raisins and currants
  • Fat Trimmings
  • Unbaked yeast dough

Want to know more? Click here to email us for a copy of our November Newsletter!

Ice Cream for your DOG?! Yes!

Speaking of treats that are GOOD for your dog, how about some ice cream?!

Yes, ice cream for your dogs!

“Frosty Paws” (in your grocer’s freezer, right next to your favorite frozen treats) has been around for a while; but tend to be pricey for a treat that disappears quickly. Have some ripe bananas, plain yogurt and peanut butter? Whip up a cool treat for your dog with your own healthy ingredients!

Let us know in the comments below how YOUR dog rated the ice cream … one or two paws up?

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Are ALL Healthy Snacks Good for Dogs?

You’re probably just like me, I only want the very best for my dogs!

With the recent upswing in dog treat recalls, many dog owners are turning to healthy and natural dog treat alternatives for their four-legged family members.

But, do you know that not all snacks (even the healthy ones) are good for your dog?

Below is an infographic illustrating which natural foods are good … and not good … for your dog. Print a copy, review with your family and then post on your refrigerator as a simple reminder in keeping your beloved dog safe!

Did You Know that All Natural Snacks are Not Created Equal for Your Dog?

All Natural Snacks are Not Created Equal for Your Dog!

 

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