Many dog owners choose antlers for dog chews because they're cruelty free. But how do you really know if you're getting exactly that?
I walked into a pet store chain the other day. Just sussing out the competition as you do...
As usual, their antlers were pretty over-priced, chalky and felt a bit like pumice stone. However, the thing that really got me - was that some of their antlers still had tufts of hair attached to the base and had clearly been sawn off the deer's skull.
Right under the sign saying 'Naturally shed, ethical dog treats' was evidence that these antlers were clearly removed from the animal.
So how can you know whether you're actually getting 'naturally shed antlers'?
The simplest & easiest way to ascertain whether your deer antler dog chews have been ethically sourced is by looking at the base of the antler. When antlers are naturally shed, they leave a more textured base - as the antler slowly works free of the skull.
In most cases, if the base shows a clean cut or signs of saw marks - or even worse, hair tufts - then it has been forcibly removed.
If the base is bulbous and textured (like the photo below) then the antler has fallen from the deer of it's own accord.
Forcibly removed antlers
Naturally shed antlers
A few things to note
- It may be difficult to tell if you're looking at the base.
We use a drop-saw to cut up our antlers. This means it might be difficult to tell if you're looking at a clean cut from further up the antler - or a clean cut from the base.
ALL our antlers are naturally shed, and the smaller chews are generally cut from further up the antler (long after it has fallen from the deer - by natural causes.
If you do buy your antler dog chews from a pet store - check out all the antlers they have on display and you'll probably be able to identify the base (or burr). Make sure it's rough and natural looking.
- The base of the antler is also called the burr.
The burr is the toughest part of the antler. After all it's the bit that connects the antler to the deer.
The burr is the signature section of our popular Chewy Brutes (super tough antlers for super chewers). Unless you have ordered one of them, you probably wont be able to see that the burrs (or base) are rough and textured.