If your dog is an aggressive chewer, finding chew toys can be a challenge. State of the art toys designed for the most advanced chewers cave in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. Even more troublesome, the vast majority of available products are made with synthetic rubbers, fibers, and other worrisome components that have negative effects on your dog’s health. Luckily, there is a simple answer.
When we first got Maddie, we did what almost every new pawrent does, we went out and bought tons of toys. Ropes, rubber tires, stuffed animals, and everlasting treats. Since Maddie was only a puppy, some of the toys lasted for a little while. As she grew older, we quickly began to realize that she was tearing right through the majority of the toys. We decided to take the next (wrong) step and research toys designed for aggressive chewers.
We ended up spending way too much money trying to find different materials and types of toys that were “indestructible.” To our dismay, Maddie casually ripped through one toy after the next. What surprised us most was the fact that she was not big, strong dog like a pit bull or a husky. Sure lab mixes are active but Maddie was still young and not what we considered a destructive chewer.
Personal thoughts aside, we recognized that there were very few toys that Maddie could have. Stuffed animals became dangerous because she would not only eat the fibers, but would quickly get the squeaker as well. We monitored her as closely as possible but all it takes is a quick second to swallow that large piece of plastic.
We finally found a product that kept Maddie safely occupied for extended periods of time. We were quite happy that she finally had a toy that we could toss her and let her have at it. After a few months of using the product, we came across the raw food diet. We were astounded by the poor quality and cooking methods that render kibble essentially useless. The simplicity and natural aspect of the raw food diet made so much sense to us and we immediately started feeding Maddie raw.
Going along with the theme of simple and natural, we started to ponder what other aspects of Maddie’s life were unnecessarily modernized. This is when we had the epiphany that the toys we were giving her were most likely harmful to her health and had very little natural function. Sure, the majority of the toys somewhat satisfied her need to chew and may have had some positive effects on her dental well-being, but at what cost?
One of the main components of the chews we were giving her was nylon. Our minds immediately went to the use in parachutes. There is no way ingesting the material that carried people use to jump out of planes could be good for our dog. This finally pushed us to demand more from our dog toys and chews and eventually led us to deer antlers.
We hopped on Amazon and ordered a bag of antlers for around $35. The pictures on Amazon weren’t the best so it definitely seemed a little sketchy. Amazon is a huge company and we’ve certainly ordered some busts, but we’ve almost always had any issues quickly and easily resolved so we were not overly concerned. A quick two days after ordering, the toys that Maddie will use for the rest of her life had arrived.
When we opened the bag, we pulled out 4 antlers varying in size, color, and shape. They were all fairly similar though and we were impressed with the size. All the antlers were sanded down with edges slightly rounded so there were no sharp points to cause any trouble. We tossed all four antlers on the ground and let Maddie have at it.
Maddie could not have been happier! She could not decide which one she wanted to play with and kept running around the house with different ones in her mouth. Eventually she settled on one and went to town. She pinned the antler between her two front paws and started chewing vigorously. This really brought out the primal species in her because she eventually started rolling around and chewing it on her back as well.
We were ecstatic that we found something that Maddie absolutely loved. Although the $35 price tag initially seemed a little high, when we compared what we got with what we spent and got at the various pet stores, it was more than worth it. We immediately threw out all of her other toys and with them went our fear of Maddie ingesting something that could be potentially damaging to her health.
Over the next few months, Maddie continued to love her antlers, and so did we. While watching her chew, we began to process and acknowledge the natural techniques animals use in the wild. There’s no toothbrushes in the wild, so how do animals have proper dental hygiene? Chewing things like sticks and antlers are certainly an option and Maddie was a living testament to this.
Chewing the antlers, along with a species appropriate raw diet, left Maddie’s teeth impeccable. People frequently commented on how white and clean her teeth were. They were always floored when we told them that we didn’t do anything to treat them outside of tossing her an antler. Even our veterinarian (at that time) was surprised at the condition of her teeth and gums.
The antlers effects, however, are not limited to dental hygiene. One of the most important aspects, in our opinion, of the deer antlers is satisfying the need to chew and keeping Maddie occupied. Modern dogs spend a lot of time cooped up in the house laying around. Even dogs with active pawrents are less occupied than we would like them to be. Canines like Maddie, a lab mix, love being outside and can keep going all day long. This presents a big challenge for owners, especially ones that work.
Our situation was even more challenging because we lived in an apartment. We took Maddie to parks, on walks, and everything we could to keep her active, but that wasn’t always enough. Northeast weather makes it even more challenging with cold, wind, snow, and everything else. The deer antlers provide the extra stimulation for Maddie that mind the gap between exercise and being fully stimulated.
We picture the deer antlers as a supplement. You cannot give your dog the antlers and expect to skip the walks or the dog park just as you cannot give your dog vitamins and expect not to feed her. Exercise takes care of the majority of the stimulation and entertainment that your dog needs and the antlers take care of any imbalance.
When giving your dog deer antlers, you may even notice a profound improvement in behavior, attitude and demeanor. This is particularly probable if you have a dog that suffers from stress and anxiety. Often times, dogs with stress and anxiety are not having their stimulation needs met. By introducing them to antlers, they are able to get out their pent up energy and direct towards aggressive chewing.
We saw this first hand with a family friend of ours. They had a dog with extreme anxiety. She would spend the majority of her day cowering upstairs away from people. She would occasionally come downstairs and go outside, but mostly just to bark at people walking by or to chase an animal. She seemed like she had very little zeal for life and just seemed particularly sad all the time.
When we visited our friends and brought Maddie ,we would bring one of her antlers. One of the days, we mistakenly left the antler. Long-story short, we came to find out that our friend’s dog loved the antlers. Our friends purchased more and now, a couple of months later, the pup seems like she has taken on a completely new personality. She certainly still has anxiety and other concerns, but she is much more spunky, involved with the other dogs, and able to rest a little easier.
Given the state of the pet food industry, it can only be anticipated that the pet toy industry is facing an equal number, if not more, concerns and corruption. Don’t let your beloved canine ingest chemicals and substances that can cause potential harm. Simplify the process and return your dog to his or her natural practices with deer antlers and other bones that your dog would find in the wild.
What toys or chewables does your dog use? We want to know! Leave a comment below!