how to sterilize deer antlers for dog chews

We all know just how much dogs love chewing on bones, with this fact reinforced in the media we consume, from cartoons and ads, down to the way we talk. Remember the expression, “acting like a dog with a bone”?

But what not many people know is that dogs don’t only like sticks and bones, but antlers as well! After all, when you think about it, antlers do make a great chew toy for dogs, as they don’t splinter as easily compared to other bones and toys, and they last a long time, saving you cash and hassle on chew toys for dogs who are very strong chewers.

Before you do give them deer antlers for them to enjoy, you must clean them for your furbaby’s safety first! So learn more about how to sterilize deer antlers for dog chews here.

How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews

Dogs have been chewing on deer antlers for a very long time, though it’s only now that urban city dogs can chew on them, too! Antlers are great dog chews since they have the bony material that’s tough and long-lasting, without smells or stains. However, be wary, as they can be TOO tough, which can lead to broken teeth or other dental problems, which is why it’s best to avoid giving antlers to puppies and senior dogs.

Once you’ve decided that antlers are still a good chew toy (and got a go signal from their vet), then that’s the time you can begin making antler dog chews. Or, you can purchase it from reputable pet stores locally or online.

For those who do choose to make antler dog chews from their recent hunts (both you and your dog can benefit from deer hunting!), the first thing you should do is to sterilize them.

Why?

Dry antlers on their own are very tough, which can result in them breaking their teeth, as I mentioned above. Besides this, unsterilized deer antlers are filled with bacteria from the deer’s feces, urine, among other things they rubbed their antlers around in. When your dog chews the bacteria, this can cause infections and diseases that enter their bodies!

What are the methods to sterilize deer antlers? Here are the steps and tips to follow:

1. Take The Antlers to a Professional Company Instead

This is a quick way to get your antlers sterilized without the hassle or worry. Professionals have the tools and equipment to sterilize the antlers to make them safe for dogs, and it saves you time and effort finding the proper solution. However, it would cost more compared to doing it yourself (but it may be worth the saved time).

2. Sterilizing the Deer Antlers

This method can remove debris that still stays on the antlers. You can do this by leaving the antlers upside down in the bleach water for up to two hours until they have absorbed the solution.

After taking the antlers out, the solution will appear cloudy, as the bacteria found in the feces and urine of deer would take the solution to the body. After doing this, drain the urine when taking the antlers from clean water.

You can use either bleach water that can be purchased over the counter, or a sodium hypochlorite solution. Both the solutions are made for only fresh antlers.

For older antlers, you can use vinegar and/or a special antler cleaning solution. This can help take out dirt left from feces and urine.

After you have soaked the deer antlers appropriately, dry the antler with a blow dryer, followed by a towel or rag to prevent the antler from absorbing the water.

Once the antler has dried completely, your dog can use and enjoy it!

A cute dog savoring a deer antler
A cute dog savoring a deer antler.

3. Extra Tips to Sterilize Deer Antlers

Here are a few bonus tips to follow when sterilizing your deer antlers for dog chews:

  • Make sure you have the freshest and best-quality deer antlers that are only a few weeks old
  • Do NOT cook deer antlers, as this would make them brittle. This would be as if you’re giving your dog cooked bones, risking them of choking and swallowing bits of bones, which is dangerous.
  • You can blanche them instead, which involves dropping them in boiling water for 2 minutes, then placing them in icy water to stop the cooking process.
  • You can wash them in dish soap as well, which removes them in debris, then soak them overnight with sterilizing water (used for baby products). Afterward, soak the antlers in cold beef or chicken stock overnight for dogs to enjoy the taste.

Wrapping It Up

Antlers make awesome dog chews, but you have to make sure that they do so safely. By knowing how to sterilize and make your antler dog chews, your dogs can chew away with their new favorite toy, reaping the benefits it offers. While I don’t recommend making your antler dog chews if you are a first-timer, there are tips you can follow to keep your dog safe.

Hopefully, this quick guide on how to sterilize deer antlers for dog chews gave you the information required to keep your dogs entertained AND healthy. Go ahead and get started in sterilizing the deer antlers for your dogs to enjoy now!

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