One of the most common discussions among our Dental Specialist E-group is the explosion of deer and elk antlers in pet stores, and the deleterious effect they are having on dog’s teeth. The most common tooth to be fractured is the maxillary 4th premolar tooth, which is one of the most important teeth in the mouth. The reason why this tooth is being broken at an alarming rate is that antlers do not give when chewed, and dogs place a significant force placed between this tooth and the mandibular 1st molar tooth when chewing them. As these two teeth are pointed, the exaggerated stress placed on these teeth results in a ‘slab fracture’ that can either expose the sensitive dentin underneath the enamel, or even worse, expose the root canal system, resulting in tooth death.
I recommend you choose VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) chews. I mention VOHC-approved chews exclusively and there is a reason; these chews have been statistically proven to prevent calculus formation, and they are not deleterious to your pet’s teeth. I personally prefer Tartar Shield chews (tartarshield.com). Greenies (Greenies.com) and Veggiedent chews (Virbac) are also VOHC-approved treats and I know many specialists that recommend them, too. Any one of these will do a very good job.
Take home message: While antlers for dogs are a fad choice at most pet stores, avoid them at all cost.
Dr. G (Your Pet Dentist)