How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews


How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews

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Deer antlers make great chews for dogs because they are durable and help keep teeth clean. However, it is essential to sterilize them before giving them to your dog, especially if you find them outdoors. This article is on how to sterilize deer antlers for dog chews. This will provide you with detailed information on how to go about the process.

How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews

Dog chews are not only great for your dog’s health but also great for your health. There are numerous advantages of giving your dog chews which you can read in this article.

However, since these chews come with unique smells and tastes that most pet parents find repulsive, it is essential to sterilize them before giving them to your dog.

Things You’ll Need

  • A pan or pot that is large enough to hold the antlers you want to clean and sterilize.
  • A sharp knife or cleaver (If cutting an antler in half.)
  • Water
  • Dish Soap
  • A Pair of Scissors
  • Oven
  • Old Towel or Rag

A Stepwise Guide on How to Sterilize Deer Antlers for Dog Chews

Step 1 : Determine How You Want to Prepare the Antler

There are essentially three ways you can prepare an antler for your dog. However, the first step in any preparation is determining how you want to clean and cut up the antlers before they go into a pot of boiling water. The Three Different Types of Preparations Are as Follows :

Cutting Deer Antler

Cut in Half – You may choose to cut your deer antler in half if it is too big for your dog or if your dog prefers softer chews. If you decide to cut up an antler, consider cutting it so that one side has a distinct rounded look while the other looks flat with little angles pointing off in all directions. It helps keep things interesting for Fido.

Leave Whole – Alternatively, you may choose to leave the antler in its natural state. The only necessary preparation for whole deer antlers is cutting off any knobs that stick out beyond the rest of the antler. This will help prevent your dog from choking on them while they chew.

Cut Into Smaller Pieces – You can also cut or break apart an entire antler into smaller pieces all at once. If this is your choice, consider breaking it down so that flat sides and angles are pointing off in every direction like small pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Once you’ve decided how to cut up your antler, proceed to step two below.

Step 2 : Wash Your Antler

After you’ve decided how to cut up your antler, take it and place it in a pot or pan large enough to hold the deer antler.

Washing Deer Antler

Fill the pot with about a quarter to a half-inch of water, noting that add two to three drops of dish soap for each cup of water. This is because antlers are very porous and will absorb the water if there isn’t enough soap to hold onto the liquid.

Step 3 : Boil Your Antler

Place the pan or water and soap on your stovetop and turn the burner to medium-high heat. When bubbles form around the outer edges, lower the temperature to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour while stirring occasionally.

If you have a hot plate instead of a stovetop, you can boil it over that as well; just be sure your antler doesn’t go dry by adding more water. You may also choose to add some salt, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide at this time if you so desire though it is not necessary at all.

Once one hour has passed, remove your antler from the boiling water with either tongs or oven mitts being careful not to burn yourself from the steam. Set your antler down on an old towel or rag so that it can cool and dry a bit before handling it for step four.

Step 4 : Dry Your Antler

Once your deer antlers have cooled a little, they should be ready to handle and continue with the “sterilization” process. Of course, you can choose to wash them one more time in warm water if you would like, but this is entirely unnecessary, depending on how clean you want them to get.

Drying Deer Antler

However, we suggest drying off any large wet spots lest they begin to develop mold later on. And of course, no matter how many times you boil or wash your antler, always make sure it’s scorched before allowing it near Fido to prevent mold, mildew, or illness in your pet.

Step 5 : Sterilize the Antler

After you’ve dried your antler, take it and allow Fido to come over and sniff it. If he doesn’t react excitedly, then place it on the ground again so that he can get used to the idea of what it is. Once he’s already interested in this particular deer antler, proceed with sterilizing.

How you choose to do so is entirely up to personal preference, but we suggest one of two options: either placing your deer antler in a pot or pan filled with water and boiling for fifteen minutes, or soaking it for several hours in hydrogen peroxide mixed with water (ie one cup hydrogen peroxide plus one cup water).

However, be sure not to leave either type of deer antler soaking for longer than twelve hours at a time, as you will run the risk of it developing mold. This is a crucial step in how to sterilize deer antlers for dog chews.

Step 6 : Allow Deer Antler to Dry Again

Once you have either boiled or soaked your deer antler in peroxide and water, it should be ready to dry again, but this time on a surface that is less likely to leave a wet spot. For example, a dish rack, a sheet of aluminum foil, or even an old towel works well enough, provided you allow ample time for it to dry out before attempting to reintroduce Fido.

How long this process will take depends entirely on how much area there was drenched with water as some surfaces are more porous than others meaning they take longer to dry completely. Once your deer antler has dried, place it in a place where Fido can get to it, and voila, you’re done!

Step 7 : Finishing and Using Your Deer Antler

Once your deer antler is completely dry and Fido has been given ample time to sniff it and become comfortable with the idea of chewing it, you can pick up the leash and allow him to begin. How long it will last depends on how big your dog is and their jaw strength, but on average, one deer antler will provide a good hour or two of distraction before being fully gnawed down.

This does not have to be a substitute for daily walks around your neighborhood; however – in fact, we recommend that, if possible, you take Fido out every day so that he doesn’t become bored or anxious at home all alone with just a chew toy. These steps will help you in how to sterilize deer antlers for dog chews.

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Tips and Warnings


  • If making deodorized deerskin chews, freeze the antler pieces for several days, then thaw to make sure no larvae are present; if there is any hint of an odor after freezing, discard the antlers and do not use themFreezing Antler Pieces.
  • Make sure to sterilize each end of an antler piece (or split it into smaller pieces). Bacteria love nooks and crannies!
  • When using a pressure cooker to sterilize deer antlers, place a wooden spoon across the top of the pot before securing the lid to elevate each piece slightly above the water line to avoid having them touch the bottom or walls of your pressure cooker during cooking—which could cause them to chip or break.


  • Do not allow your dog to consume antlers without sterilizing them first!
  • Make sure that you clean all surfaces thoroughly after each use by disinfecting with a mix of one part bleach and ten parts water. If you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, consider adding a few drops of tea tree or lavender oil for additional protection from these parasites. 
  • Remove the antler before it becomes small enough that your pet can swallow it whole—this is usually at a length of around 2 inches long, depending on the breed and size of your dog as well as the hardness of the antler itself.
  • Take care when removing antlers from any location as they may have become stuck to the ground by the sticky resin covering their exterior. Please do not attempt to pull them up using only your hands, or you may end up with a handful of dirt and grit instead!


We hope you have learned how to sterilize deer antlers for dog chews. If your dog loves to chew on deer antlers, then you’ll be happy to know that fixing them is easy. Deer antlers are usually sterile until they get broken off, so all you need to do is wash the antler with soap and water, boil it for 10 minutes or put it in a dishwasher set at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius).

Once cleaned, store the deer antler in an airtight container like Tupperware or wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap before putting it away. Your pup will thank you!

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