Maggie has grown to be a chewer, and while she’s stopped ripping open pillows, she gets a little antsy when she’s bored.
She’s not a huge fan of big, grisly bones and can figure out hidden treat toys like it’s her full-time job.
While researching what I could possibly give her next, I came across water buffalo horns.
Here’s what I discovered and why water buffalo horns could be her next big chew toy.
What Are Water Buffalo Horns?
Don’t get me wrong, I’d seen horns in pet stores before.
They were usually little gray things that didn’t look very appealing next to much larger bones. Besides, I figured they would be easily breakable, being that small.
Turns out, that’s not the case.
Water buffalo—not to be confused with bison—has been used in high end dog foods for a long time.
They provide a leaner meat, which is preferred by owners who have dogs on special diets.
Their horns started being used after the rest of the water buffalo were being processed into dog food. In an effort not to create more waste, a new type of dog chew was discovered.
Are Water Buffalo Horns Safe for Dogs?
Yes, water buffalo horns are safe for dogs. They’re high in protein and low in fat, so they won’t pack on pounds like many other treats.
They’ll also last a long time because they’re extremely durable.
Another added bonus is that they come already hollowed out, so they’re naturally a great place to hide treats and peanut butter.
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Are They Safe for Puppies?
Puppies are going to want to chew on things, but you should avoid giving them water buffalo horns until their full set of adult teeth are in.
That could take at least eight months up to a year.
Check out our article for a more in-depth puppy teething schedule.
Dangers of Giving Dogs Water Buffalo Horns
The reason they aren’t safe for puppies is that they can be very brittle.
That’s what makes them so long lasting, but it can also result in chipped or cracked teeth if too much pressure is used while chewing.
This brittle nature can also make them dangerous for adult dogs.
Adult dog teeth are made for chewing, but water buffalo horns still pose a potential threat if your dog can go for hours at a time without stopping.
You’ll want to keep an eye on them. Don’t use water buffalo horns to keep your dog occupied when you’re not around.
What to Look For
To know what to look for, you have to understand how horns are made.
After the marrow is taken out, the horns are dried into long lasting treats. They can be coated in different flavors, which is what makes dogs want to chew them for so long.
When the horns get dried out, they also become more brittle.
After extensive chewing, the base of the horn can splinter and injure a dog’s mouth. The middle and tip of the horn could crack teeth.
If you want to give your dog a water buffalo horn, just make sure to watch them and take it away after a good ten or fifteen minutes.
If the edges of the horn look like they’re cracking off, it’s time to throw away the entire thing.
It’ll also be a good idea to inspect your dog’s mouth.
You’ll want to look specifically for any part that’s bleeding or punctured with horn chips. Try running a finger along the teeth too, to ensure that they haven’t become loose.
Remember, your dog may try to hide pain from you (it’s not wise to show weakness to packmates!), so keep an eye out for doggy pain symptoms.
If the idea of water buffalo horns makes you nervous or you find out that your dog just doesn’t like them, there are other safe alternatives you can try.
Freezing carrots is probably going to be the cheapest alternative to water buffalo horns.
They’re probably already in your fridge and are totally safe for dogs to eat. These are also a perfect alternative for puppies!
After the carrots are frozen, they’ll soothe sore gums during teething.
They also provide healthy minerals and vitamins that dogs may not get in their food.
There are only two things to watch for:
- Never freeze baby carrots. They’re too small and could be a choking hazard.
- Only allow one carrot per day. They’re high in fiber, which may result in digestive issues.
Try giving your dog a frozen carrot to see how much they enjoy chewing it.
It’ll certainly be a different flavor and temperature than they’re used to!
If you invest in bully sticks, you’ll find that they’re the opposite of horns.
They don’t splinter and are easily digestible, so dogs go nuts for them.
Their shape also makes them long lasting. They can be twisted up in a braid, so your dog gets to have fun figuring out how to chew on a shape they probably haven’t come in contact with before.
The only downside to bully sticks is that they’re known for having a powerful odor.
Give one to your best chewer while they’re hanging out in the backyard so the smell doesn’t stick around in your home.
Dogs also love to get their paws on a Himalayan chew. These chews are made with only four ingredients:
- Yak milk
- Cow milk
They’re also over 53% protein, so it’s another weight-conscious snack that can be enjoyed often.
They’ll last a while for even the best chewers, and are perfect for pet owners who still want to give their dog something completely natural to chew on.
The splintering effect of water buffalo horns does give me pause, but I’m glad to know it ahead of time.
Maggie will definitely at least get the chance to try one out. I feel better knowing now that I should keep an eye on her while she chews on it.
The other alternative also seem like good chew options, in case horns aren’t her thing.
I think every dog should get the chance to explore their chew options and find their own personal favorites.