A single goat horn.

Goat Horn For Dogs -
Are They A Good Treat?

Dogs love chewing on stuff. But finding the right hew toy can be quite a riddle. If you want something natural for your dog, you still have a lot to choose from: bones, antlers, horns, and more. Goat horns are one such treat, but they come with their own set of questions.

Are goat horns for dogs beneficial or harmful? Well, there are two sides to this story: some say goat horns are great for dogs, and others say they are dangerous. So, what’s the truth? Let’s find out!


Are Goat Horns Good for Dogs?

If you want to feed your dog natural treats with no additives and suspicious chemicals, goat horns seem like a perfect treat. They are just that: goat horns. No processing required, no preservatives, no additives (at least that’s the case if you get your goat horns from a reputable manufacturer).

This is exactly the type of treat that is getting more and more popular these days. Take this observation from a US-based dog treat manufacturer, for example:

“The demand from pet parents for simple, single-ingredient chews has skyrocketed. They are looking for minimally processed products that deliver a satisfying, flavorful and especially durable chewing experience for their best buddies.” - Mike Thomas from QT Dog for Pet Product News (1)

And that’s exactly what goat horns are. Now, goat horns for dogs are certainly not a fashionable fad - they have been around for ages. But, today, we know more about why these natural treats might be better for dogs than highly processed or artificial treats that seem to be everywhere around us.

These are the main upsides of goat horns for dogs: 

A wholesome, single-ingredient, natural treat. As mentioned, goat horns don’t need any special treatment to be fed to dogs. You simply get an all-natural goat horn. No need to parse through ingredient lists and worry about food sensitivities. As a plus, dog horns are a by-product that is not often used. Goats are not slaughtered or hurt to harvest their horns, rather they are just a bonus that your dog can use.

Long-lasting boredom-busters. Dogs simply love to chew on things. It’s not only natural for them, but also a great form of exercise that lets the dog get rid of excess energy (2). Goat horns are tough, long-lasting chewing toys that will give your dog hours if not months of entertainment.

  • Dental health benefits. Building on the previous point, chewing is not only a fun activity for dogs, but it also helps keep their teeth cleaner. Gnawing on things like goat horns helps dogs naturally keep their teeth clean. Periodontal disease is one of the most common problems in dogs and having a goat horn to gnaw on can help prevent it.
  • Optimal texture. Of course, it’s hard to say what’s “optimal” as it will always depend on the dog. However, goat horns seem to perform better than some other options. They are not as tough as antlers, and not as easy to swallow in large pieces like pig ears. Goat horns also don’t tend to splinter into dangerous sharp pieces which is always a plus.
  • Nutrition. Goat horns are composed mainly of calcium and phosphorus. All dogs need a healthy dose of calcium and chewing on a goat horn is a great way to get it. Plus, goat horns don’t add any extra fat or calories to your dog’s diet.

Are Goat Horns Dangerous for Dogs?

Now we come to the tricky part. If you’ve looked into or asked around about safe natural chews for your dog, you might have heard that all bones, horns, and similar products are off limits.

There are two things people worry about here. First, there is the potential damage to the dog’s teeth caused by the horn (or bone) being too hard. On the other hand, there is a worry that the horns could break into small pieces which can be swallowed and cause problems for your dog.

So, is this a real danger? The truth is, this is one of the most debated topics in the world of dog treats, and you’ll never find a clear answer.

“The fact is, depending on their jaw strength and how much unsupervised time they have on their hands or jaws, nothing is completely safe! Your job is to find items that they like to chew and that they cannot destroy too quickly, and to supervise them closely with these items” - Nancy Kerns from Whole Dog Journal (3)

In short, it depends on the dog. But let’s quickly review the two main potential risks connected with dog horns:

Choking hazard and intestinal blockage. This is, in fact, a real danger if your dog chews very aggressively. Small pieces of bone can be sharp and get stuck in a dog’s throat or intestines. Luckily this does not often happen with goat horns due to their texture, but it is possible. The keyword here is supervision - if your dog is breaking the goat horn into small pieces - take the horn away

Tooth damage. On the other side of the coin, dogs that bite too eagerly at hard surfaces (like goat horn) can end up damaging their teeth. This is less likely to happen to grown dogs with healthy teeth than to puppies or dogs with already damaged teeth, but it’s possible. The key, again, is supervision and thanking the horn away if your dog seems to be attacking it with too much vigour.


Tips for Safely Feeding Goat Horns to Dogs

Choose the appropriate size. Goat horns are usually quite large, but sometimes they can be sold already cut into pieces. Always choose a horn that’s big enough: that means so big that your dog can’t possibly swallow it whole.

Always supervise. We know that this might sound overly cautious, but when feeding tough natural chews like dog horns it’s always best to watch your dog to prevent injuries. Also, watch out for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea or difficulty with pooping - these could indicate your pooch has swallowed something they shouldn’t.

PRO TIP: Dealing with the smell. Goat horns can sometimes have quite a strong smell to them, especially when your dog has been chewing on them for a while. When your pooch is done chewing, you can wash the horn in hot water and let it dry. This should help reduce the smell.


Can Puppies Have Goat Horns?

Nope! Feeding goat horns to puppies before their permanent teeth have fully settled in is probably not a good idea. Puppies are still learning about the world - and they do this through chewing.

But their teeth and gums are very sensitive at this early life stage which can lead to injuries when chewing on something as tough as a goat horn. Best to hold off on these until your puppy is about 6 months old.


How Many Goat Horns Can I Give My Dog?

One. The answer is always one because your dog will take a long time to get through a goat horn. This is the type of treat that gets chewed on over days and weeks in multiple sessions. Yes, technically, you can give your dog multiple dog horns as chew toys.


Goat Horns: The Verdict

In the end, are goat horns good for dogs? In many ways, goat horns are one of the best natural chew toys you can give to your dog. They last long, they help keep their teeth clean, and they provide much-needed entertainment. However, just like with other similar options like bones and antlers, caution is advised. Y

es, dogs can get hurt while chewing on a goat horn, but most dogs will be completely fine. As long as you supervise the chewing action and you see your dog chewing the horn with patience instead of trying very hard to destroy it or swallow it, goat horns have a green light.

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References

  1. Getz, L. May 1, 2022. “ Pet Owners Expect Choice in Treats and Chews”. Pet Product News. Retrieved May 25, 2022. https://www.petproductnews.com/current-issue/pet-owners-expect-choice-in-treats-and-chews/article_eebfa144-ba9a-11ec-8245-5b64654817bb.html
  2. PetMD Editorial. Jun 19, 2009. “Destructive Behavior in Dogs”. PetMD. Retrieved May 25, 202. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/behavioral/c_dg_destructive_behavior
  3. Kerns, N. December 15, 2021. “Why Do Dogs Chew – And What to Do About It”. Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved May 25, 2022. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/why-do-dogs-chew-and-what-to-do-about-it/
Vedrana Nikolic

Vedrana Nikolić is a professional writer, anthropologist & dog lover with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying the communication between animals and humans. Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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