The biggest risk to your dog from chewing on antlers is broken teeth. Commercially sold antlers, usually deer or elk, are extremely hard with an unforgiving surface, like a rock or concrete. Would you let your dog chew on rocks or concrete? Of course not!
No veterinary dental specialist will ever sign off on letting your dog chew antlers. Never. Broken teeth are painful for your dog and often lead to infection and tooth root abscesses. Fractured teeth frequently require surgical extraction, subjecting your dog to an expensive and painful procedure for something that is completely preventable.
Antlers Can Splinter
Antlers also pose a risk of cracking or splintering, thereby becoming a choking hazard, esophageal foreign body, or intestinal blockage. There are far better and safer choices for a dog dental chew.
Why Are Antlers Sold as Dog Chews?
Antlers do have some appealing traits that cause people to buy them and, since folks are buying them, manufacturers will produce them.
Antlers are long lasting. Your dog will not go through an antler in one sitting like they might a rawhide or other softer, ingestible chew. And dogs love them! They smell good. They taste good. And they bring out your dog’s inner wild canine. And they are more natural to the dog than, for example, a Nylabone, which appeals to many pet owners.
Regardless of the positive aspects of antlers, there are plenty of safer choices for your dog to chew. Whether you choose to give your dog antlers to or not depends on the amount of risk you are willing to take. In my professional opinion, they are definitely not worth the risk.