When you’re out hunting in the woods, it’s always a good idea to keep your eyes peeled for deer antlers. Often found near deer trails and feeding areas, they can be quite a find. And if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon them, think beyond using them as hunting trophies.
For instance, what if you gave them to your dog as a chew toy and a nutritional treat?
Dogs love to play with and chew on bones, and deer antlers make great toys for them. However, you must first make them safe and palatable for your canine.
In this article, we’ll answer all the burning questions about what you should and shouldn’t do with raw deer antlers before giving them to your dog.
How Do I Clean Deer Antlers I Found?
No responsible dog owner would ever offer something they’ve picked from the woods to your furry baby to chew or gnaw on without cleaning it.
The same goes for deer antlers.
Here are some ways people like to clean them:
- Rubbing with a cloth to remove dirt
- Scrubbing with a wire brush or damp cloth to get rid of any remaining organic matter and hair
- Soaking in a mixture of a mild detergent and warm water to let go of the grime
However, these cleaning methods won’t kill the layers of bacteria that may have accumulated on the antlers.
Do You Have to Boil Deer Antlers?
Deer antlers have grime and bacteria when picked fresh. Boiling them is one of the best ways to get rid of everything off the surface that can harm your dog’s health.
However, you need to know a few things before going down this road.
What Happens If You Boil Deer Antlers?
In addition to dirt and bacteria, boiling helps remove the smell from deer antlers. This is why you must always do it outdoors. Otherwise, your entire house will stink up.
Once you take the antlers out of the boiling pot, they’ll feel soft. You can expect them to harden up after a few minutes.
Will Boiling Water Hurt Deer Antlers?
No. It won’t unless you keep the antlers in boiling water for too long.
Below are the steps you need to follow to ensure boiling water doesn’t hurt deer antlers.
Step 1: Pour water into a large cooking pot and add a pinch of salt.
Step 2: Place the pot on a stove or fire pit and let the water boil.
Step 3: Cut the antlers into small pieces for your dog to chew comfortably. Make sure your pup can’t swallow it easily. Also, cut off parts that stick out at odd angles and sand the sharp edges.
Step 4: When the water reaches a boil, put the antler pieces in the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Make sure all antlers are entirely submerged and remain so throughout. You can use prongs to force them underwater.
Step 5: Keep the antlers in the boiling water for no more than 30 minutes. Use prongs to take them out as soon as the time is up.
Step 6: Let the antlers air dry for 24 hours. Make sure they aren’t under direct sunlight for more than a day as it can erode their color.
Pro tip: Add chicken or beef broth after putting the antlers into the cooking pot with boiling water. This will add an appetizing flavor that your dog would find irresistible.
Please note that if you boil deer antlers for more than the recommended time, the bone might become brittle and splinter, exposing your dog to a choking hazard.
How Do You Treat Deer Antlers?
Raw antlers tend to be super hard, and you may wonder if your dog’s teeth are strong enough to gnaw on them without harm.
The good news is that you can soften them to ensure comfortable chewing for your furry baby.
One of the best methods is to soak them in warm water for one or two days. This will help soften the antlers and make them more pliable. You can also use a weak solution of soap and water to disinfect the antlers if boiling them doesn’t put your mind at ease. Remember to rinse the antlers thoroughly before giving them to your dog.
Also, don’t forget to remove any sharp points or edges that could hurt your dog. You can use fine-grit sandpaper for this purpose.
Once the antlers are safe for your dog to bite, you can smear them with peanut butter, chicken, or beef broth to turn them into mouthwatering treats.
Raise a Happy, Healthy Puppy With Pet Expertise
While finding fresh deer antlers on your hunting expeditions is great, cutting, sanding, and sanitizing them may soon feel mundane and frustrating.
While the process of boiling and treating antlers seems simple, it does take considerable time and effort. Besides, there’ll always be concern about your dog swallowing the antler pieces if you cut them too small.
Why go through all this trouble when you can purchase 100% natural whole antler chews that are safe for dogs?
At Pet Expertise, we have affordable Natural Whole Antlers in various sizes, shapes, and thicknesses to suit dogs of all sizes and breeds. They are less likely to splinter and last longer than most available alternatives.
We have been selling these antler dog chews for over 15 years. You can trust us to provide your dog with the safest, freshest, and most nutritious antlers on the market.