How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews? Your Guide

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Author: Jeanette Hampton

Deer antlers have gained popularity as durable and natural dog chews, providing numerous benefits such as dental care and long-lasting entertainment. However, ensuring the safety of our dogs is crucial. Unsterilized antlers can carry potential risks, This leads to the vital question: How to sterilize deer antlers for dog chews? 🦌🐶

How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews

In this article, we’ll delve into effective methods to safely prepare antlers, eliminating health concerns while maintaining the advantages of this popular canine treat. By following these guidelines, pet owners can offer their dogs a safe and enjoyable chewing experience.🦷

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How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews?

Dogs are naturally drawn to these chews due to their intriguing texture, scent, and the inherent appeal of gnawing on something from the wild. Deer antlers are composed of dense, hard bone material that arises from the regrowth process in deer. 🦌

This process makes them exceptionally sturdy and long-lasting, making them an ideal choice for dogs that are enthusiastic chewers. Dogs are instinctively attracted to antlers due to their innate desire to chew, which helps alleviate boredom and stress.

Preparing the Antlers for Sterilization

Opt for antlers sourced from reputable suppliers, as these are more likely to be fresh and free from contaminants. Look for antlers that are intact, with no visible cracks or splintering. A solid, uniform colour indicates a healthy antler.

Choose an appropriate size for your dog’s breed and chewing habits – larger breeds may require larger antlers. Fresh antlers are heavier and less likely to splinter. Before presenting antlers to your dog, thorough cleaning is essential. 🫧

Cleaning is an important step in preparing antlers, but sterilization is essential to ensure your dog’s safety and health during chewing. The following are some methods of sterilizing the deer antlers for dogs:

1) Boiling Method

Boiling antlers is an effective method to sterilize them and ensure they’re safe for your dog’s chewing. This process helps eliminate bacteria🧫 and pathogens while maintaining the durability of the antlers[1]. Here’s how to do it:

giving dog an antler
  1. Materials Needed: Deer antlers, Large pot, Water, and Stove.
  2. Choose Suitable Antlers
  3. Prepare the Pot
  4. Add the Antlers
  5. Bring to a Boil
  6. Boil the Antlers
  7. Monitor the Boiling
  8. Cooling Down
  9. Rinse and Dry

2) Baking Method

Baking antlers in an oven is an efficient way to sterilize them, ensuring that they’re safe for your dog to chew on. This method provides even heat distribution, leading to thorough sterilization without compromising the integrity of the antlers. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Materials Needed: Deer antlers, Baking sheet or oven-safe dish, and Oven.
  2. Preheat the Oven
  3. Choose Suitable Antlers
  4. Prepare the Baking Sheet
  5. Place the Antlers
  6. Place in the Oven
  7. Bake the Antlers
  8. Monitor the Process
  9. Cooling Down
  10. Rinse and Dry

3) Hydrogen Peroxide Soak

Hydrogen peroxide acts as an antimicrobial agent, killing bacteria, viruses, and pathogens that may be present on the antlers’ surface[2]. This method provides an additional layer of safety for your dog by reducing the risk of exposure to harmful microorganisms. Here’s how to create the solution and soak the antlers:💧

dog chewing an antler
  1. Materials Needed: Hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration), Water, Container or bowl, Gloves (optional), and Towel/ paper towels.
  2. Prepare the Solution
  3. Stir the Solution
  4. Submerge the Antlers
  5. Soak Time
  6. Check and Rotate
  7. Rinse and Dry
  8. Dry Completely

Benefits of Deer Antlers for Dogs

Deer antlers can be one of the best dog chews due to their durability and dental benefits. The texture of antlers offers a satisfying sensation for dogs, mimicking the experience of chewing on bones in the wild, here are some benefits of chewing on deer antlers:

  • Dental Hygiene: “Chewing on antlers promotes good oral health by helping to scrape away plaque and tartar buildup. The gnawing action engages the dog’s jaw muscles and provides a natural teeth-cleaning mechanism, contributing to healthier gums🦷 and fresher breath🫁”, says the experts at AKC.
  • Long-Lasting Entertainment: Antlers are known for their durability, making them an excellent source of long-lasting entertainment for dogs. Unlike softer chews that can be quickly devoured, antlers provide extended periods of engagement, helping to alleviate boredom and prevent destructive behaviour.
  • Natural Nutrient Source: Deer antlers are rich in natural minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which can be beneficial for your dog’s overall health. These nutrients contribute to bone strength and growth, making antlers not only an enjoyable chew but also a potential source of essential elements for your pet’s well-being.
dog in the woods

Potential Risks of Unsterilized Deer Antlers

Unsterilized antlers may pose various risks to dogs Proper sterilization is essential to mitigate these risks, Here are some of them:

  • Bacterial Contamination: Unsterilized antlers can harbour harmful bacteria🦠🧫, such as E. coli and Salmonella. Dogs that chew on contaminated antlers can ingest these pathogens, leading to gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, diarrhoea, and even potential transmission to humans.
  • Germs and Pathogens: Antlers that haven’t undergone proper sterilization may carry germs and pathogens from the environment. These microorganisms can contribute to infections in a dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive system, causing discomfort and health complications.
  • Splinter Hazards: Unsterilized antlers may contain hidden splinters or fragments that can break off during chewing. These splinters can cause injuries to a dog’s mouth👄, gums, or digestive tract, potentially leading to pain, bleeding, or blockages.

Ensuring Safety After Sterilization

After sterilization, allow antlers to cool naturally to avoid burns. Gently touch them to ensure they’re at room temperature. Inspect for any signs of damage or splintering post-sterilization, ensuring they’re safe for your dog to chew.

Store sterilized antlers in a clean, dry environment away from moisture and contaminants. Place them in a cool, dry area to maintain their sterility and prevent bacterial growth. Proper storage preserves their safety and ensures they remain suitable for your dog’s enjoyment.🎊🎉

How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews

Alternatives to Deer Antlers

In addition to deer antlers, there are several other safe and suitable chew alternatives that can provide dogs with engaging and enjoyable experiences. Options like yak chews are known to be quite durable, which raises the question – how long do yak chews last?

Here are some other alternatives :🧸🪀

  • Rubber Toys
  • Bully Sticks
  • Nylon Chews
  • Rawhide Alternatives
  • Rope Toys
  • Edible Dental Chews
  • Chew Guards
  • Interactive Puzzle Toys


Are Old Deer Antlers Safe for Dogs?

Deer antlers are digestible for dogs, but your dog should not ingest any large pieces from them because, as with any large chew, they can cause a choking hazard. The smaller pieces that will break off as your dog grinds their deer antler down are completely safe for dogs to eat and digestible.

Can I Give My Dog a Deer Antler I Found in the Woods?

Having something to chew is important for our dogs’ dental health, and to keep boredom at bay. But, antlers for dogs can cause more problems than they solve. In fact, chewing on hard products like elk or deer antlers for dogs can lead to dental problems like fractured teeth, and internal damage from splintering.

How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews?

Drop them in the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer. They should be simmered for about 10 minutes, and you can add beef or chicken broth if you want to add some flavour. Remove the antler pieces from the water and let them cool and they will be clean and sanitary.

How Long to Boil Deer Antlers for Dogs?

If you need to boil the antlers to soften and sanitize them, do so for roughly 30 minutes. Not only will this kill any bacteria on the surface, but it will also soften up the material without risking splintering. Limit it to this time and don’t let it go too long.


In conclusion, to solve your canine conundrum of How to sterilize deer antlers for dog chews? then sterilizing deer antlers for dog chews is essential to ensure your pet’s safety and enjoyment. 🥳

This process eliminates harmful bacteria, germs, and splinter hazards. You can achieve sterilization through methods like boiling, baking or using hydrogen peroxide. Each method has its benefits, but all guarantee a hygienic chewing experience.

After sterilization, cooling down the antlers is crucial to prevent burns, and inspecting them for any damage or splintering is equally important. Proper storage in a clean, dry place maintains sterility, and ensuring the safety of our dogs is on us as responsible pet parents!🐾✨

Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, but you’ll want to redirect them to appropriate alternatives. Discover how to stop dog chewing skirting board and other unwanted behaviors.


  1. Boil Water Response-Information for the Public Health ProfessionalNEW YORK STATE
  2. Chemical Disinfectants | Disinfection & Sterilization Guidelines | Guidelines Library | Infection Control- CDC
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Jeanette Hampton
Jeanette Hampton is a content writer at WWD and an expert on all things pets. She’s been writing pet blogs for over 5 years and knows everything there is to know about dogs. Jeanette enjoys writing about pet-related topics because she enjoys helping people learn more about their furry friends.

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