Oh Deer!

As we wrap up our dental season, we here at Aurora Animal Clinic would love to talk about ANTLERS!

They keep your pup distracted for hours…
They give them that satisfying crunch feeling…
They bring them back to their wolfy roots…
They fracture teeth

With all the popularity antlers get, it’s hard to believe a vet would discourage them. They are sold at most if not all pet stores across the province and are all natural (because they came from a deer). However, antlers can do some serious damage to your dog’s teeth.

For one, antlers are made of bone, and while we like to think teeth are made of bone as well, they aren’t. Teeth are made of enamel which is the next hardest substance but is still softer than actual bone. Think of enamel as the steel breastplate of your dog’s pearly white knight. Against most substances, it can protect the soft insides of teeth but shoot an arrow at that breastplate, and you’ll likely see a dent if it doesn’t go all the way through.

The other thing to consider with our antler toys is their size. Most times dogs wear down the antlers to a relatively small size where they fit right to the back of their mouth. Our dogs are thinking, “that’s the sweet spot” but that’s where they can cause fracturing. The back of the jaw is where there is the most pressure that’s part of the reason they have the widest/biggest teeth back there. The super strength of those back teeth chomp down on the narrowest part of the antlers which for the most part don’t break (because it’s bone) but what does break and wear down is the enamel. This causes fractures, which then requires the tooth to be removed as it is painful and can cause infection.

Take a peek at some of these pictures from a recent tooth root abscess, this lovely pup was victim to the joys of antler chewing.

Written by: Rachel Russell, RVT