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Do deer antlers count as vegan dog treats?

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.

These ‘Fallow Straps’ are taken from the flattest, softest section of the antler. They’re great for pups, seniors or just a special treat.

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? 

1 thought on “Do deer antlers count as vegan dog treats?

  1. People in this discussion on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/3ll09y/are_antlers_vegan/ suggest the use of antlers can be considered vegan when used educationally to show that antlers can be found in nature without any animal being killed, but might otherwise be better left where they are since they provide animals native to the habitat with a source of protection and minerals.
    From Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antler#Dietary_usage):
    “Discarded antlers represent a source of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals and are often gnawed upon by small animals, including squirrels, porcupines, rabbits and mice. This is more common among animals inhabiting regions where the soil is deficient in these minerals. Antlers shed in oak forest inhabited by squirrels are rapidly chewed to pieces by them”
    So in the case of dogs, I think discretion to not overly hoard antlers is adviced.

    Apart from the above, I am unaware as to whether shed antlers play any part in communication between deers.

    Partly due to the unfortunate circumstance of the same word (horn) being used for both horns and antlers in my native language Swedish I was previously partly unaware of the distinction between antlers which deers shed naturally and horns remaining for life on bovines.
    I actually was looking up ways to grow crops without fertilizers derived from animals and came upon this question, thinking that perhaps antlers would be a vegan alternative to horns.

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