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Antlers are made up of mainly calcium and phosphorus, but also includes other vital minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, sulphur and zinc. These minerals are vital for keeping bones and muscles strong. The main health benefit of deer antlers though, is their use in aiding in dental care for your dog.
Gnawing helps to remove plaque on the teeth, and keep them clean. Most dental treats on the market are either full of calories, or brittle and can break off in your dog’s mouth. Deer antlers are neither of these, and an excellent solution to helping your dog maintain a healthy mouth.
So, are the antlers from different deer all the same? Not at all. Elk antlers are relatively soft, and good for the occasional chewer or smaller dog. Antlers from more native species of deer, such as fallow or red deer, are harder and better suited for bigger dogs and more intense chewers.
- Small Sized Antler Chews: These are for Small and Petite sized dogs ranging in size from 5 – 20 pounds such as Chihuahuas, Papillons, Pugs, Dachshunds, smaller terriers and spaniels, Shih Tzu and Miniature Poodles.
- Medium Sized Antler Chews: These are for Medium sized dogs ranging in size from 20 – 50 pounds such as Beagles, Miniature Schnauzers, Border Collies, Corgis, Whippets and Scotties.
- Large Sized Antler Chews: These are for Large dogs in the 50 – 70 pound range such as Afghan Hounds, Australian Shepherds, Bassett Hounds, Labs and Goldens, Boxers, Collies, most Sporting Breeds and Huskies.
- Extra Large Sized Antler Chews: These are for Extra Large dogs ranging in size from 70 – 90 pounds such as Akitas, Malamutes, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, English Sheepdogs and Ridgebacks.
- Jumbo Sized Antler Chews: These are for Extra Large to Giant dogs that weigh in excess of 90 pounds such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Great Danes or Mastiffs.
- Giant Sized Antler Chews: These are Very Large dogs that weigh in excess of 100 pounds such as Bernese Mountain Dogs, Mastiffs, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds and Newfoundlands.
Horns are sometimes confused with antlers, but they are actually completely different. A horn has a bone core, which is covered in keratin (the same substance that our fingernails are made of). They last the lifetime of the animal. Antlers however, start as cartilage, and gradually mineralise over the course of a few months.
After the breeding season, the antlers shed, and new ones grow the following year. Don’t worry, despite horns not being shed, buffalo are not slaughtered for their horns alone. The horns are a by-product, and are harvested to ensure that no part of the animal goes to waste.
After they are harvested, they are cleaned, soaked in hot water to release/remove the inner core, then sanded to remove any sharp edges, covered in natural sunflower oil and then sun/air dried.
Buffalo horns are nutritious treats which are high in protein and low in fat. This makes them absolutely ideal for dogs who are struggling with their waistline, which is a surprising percentage of the dog population. They are also high in calcium and phosphorus, which are vital for healthy, strong bones and muscles. As a result, buffalo horns can be an excellent long lasting addition to your dog’s diet.