Antlers are unique to the deer family and are composed of a bone-like material that regenerates every year. Over sixty species of deer produce antlers, including moose, reindeer, caribou, and elk. Only males grow antlers (apart from caribou and reindeer females), which they use to fight for leadership or mates.
As stags grow older, they produce a new set of antlers each year. Layers of cartilage become bone over time as they mineralise. Their soft nature makes them easy to damage until they start hardening in late summer. During the summer, antlers grow up to one inch per day - faster than any other kind of bone! The larger they get, the more velvet they accumulate (antlers for dogs that contain velvet are even more nutritious). Eventually, the velvet covering on the antlers will dry out, and the deer will rub the velvet off on trees. The antlers finally fall off in winter, but with each new year's growth, they branch out into more points until the deer reaches its prime.
The bony material of antlers makes them excellent dog chews. They are durable, hard, don't smell or stain, and keep your dog engaged. Dogs benefit greatly from chewing antlers in many ways. In addition to keeping their teeth clean, it expends energy, keeps them out of trouble, and keeps them from getting underfoot. Also, deer antlers for dogs are rich in calcium.
As with any chew, you should be mindful when letting your dog chew on antlers. A broken tooth or choking on a small piece are the most common concerns. Chewing the antler and wearing it down slowly is what you want to see. It's important to choose quality antlers, like those from Church Farm, so your dog can enjoy them for several weeks or months.
It's easy for you to feel confident about giving your dog antler chews from Church Farm. All of our antlers are gathered from our own red deer having been naturally shed or carefully removed for safety.