Seeing as antlers are naturally shed and collecting them doesn't harm the deer - does that make antlers vegan dog treats?
Oh hey there Can of Worms... Let's open you right up, shall we?
On one side of the argument, antlers are an animal product and for that reason they're NOT considered vegan.
On the other hand, some vegans believe that animal products are not inherently bad. Just like a dropped feather ... If the product is no longer required by the animal and there's no harm caused- then it IS a vegan product.
Many people don't know that deer drop their antlers each year. In fact, we often get 'keyboard warriors' blasting us for animal cruelty.
In actuality, feeding antlers to your dog is about as cruel as feeding your dog a carrot.
Deer antlers are shed and regrow each year; horns in contrast, are permanent.
Every year, once the antler has grown to full size, it will fall off the deer of it's own accord. These fallen antlers are called 'naturally shed' or 'cast' antlers.
For our dog chews, we collect the cast antlers and cut them to size. Sometimes we flavour them for a bit of added deliciousness.
The Commodity Status
One of the most valid concern about the question of antlers vegan-ness, is that their consumption could promote the commodity status of animals. The danger there is that others may see a business opportunity and not source their antlers ethically.
In fact, we've seen antler chews in pet stores that have clearly not been taken from naturally shed antlers.
You can learn how to identify whether antlers have been 'naturally shed' here.
Once people understand the meaning of 'naturally shed' then most vegans & vegetarians see nothing wrong with feeding those deer antlers to dogs. For many, it's like collecting berries or picking up manure.
Furthermore, there's an array of benefits to feeding antlers to dogs. Including:
- Antlers are a rich source of protein, minerals and trace elements - which make them a real nutrition powerhouse for dogs.
- Despite being irresistible to dogs, they're odourless to humans which makes them great for indoor chewing.
- They last a REALLY long time... we're talking 6 months + (and that's even for super chewers like Staffies!)
So depending on your particular standpoint, antlers may or may not be considered a vegan dog treat. However, one things for sure - and that's that no deer are harmed in the process of sourcing these dog chews.
What are your thoughts? Do you consider antlers to be vegan?