Skeptical about deer velvet supplements for dogs? You’re not alone. Dr. Julie Buzby, integrative veterinarian and founder of Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips®, wrestled with the same thoughts. After learning about the benefits of deer antler velvet for dogs at a veterinary acupuncture conference, she was determined to sift through the claims. In addition to talking with veterinary colleagues and PhDs, she poured herself into reviewing the research. While the decision to use deer velvet supplement for your dog lies with you and your veterinarian, what Dr. Buzby has learned over the years may help you, too.
I recently recommended deer velvet supplement for a friend’s senior dog who suffers from hip dysplasia and arthritic elbows.
“Antler velvet for dogs?” he gasped. “Isn’t that what MLB players were taking to hit more home runs?” This was news to me, but I told him I was definitely in the business of helping my patients hit more home runs! I was not surprised that deer antler velvet could be considered a natural performance enhancer.
But I’m not interested in pro athletes. My passion is the 11-year-old Golden Retriever who no longer gets excited when her owner jiggles the leash.
It’s the 9-year-old black Lab who no longer goes for car rides because it’s too hard to get in and out.
My passion is the 14-year-old Pug who no longer runs to the front door when the doorbell rings because it hurts too much to get up off his bed.
So let’s talk about deer velvet enhancing the performance of senior dogs.
New Zealand deer velvet for dogs
Deer antler has been a staple in the practice of Eastern Medicine for thousands of years as a revitalizing tonic. It has gained popularity in the last few centuries for its warming, tonifying, and nourishing properties in traditional Chinese medicine.
After harvesting the antlers (more on that in a second), they are ground into a powder, which is rich in nutrients ideal for the health, strength, and mobility of senior dogs. These nutrients include calcium, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, collagen, and proteins. These form the building blocks of bone, joints, and connective tissue.
Deer velvet also naturally contains two other game-changing ingredients for senior dogs: omega-3 fatty acids and insulin-like growth factor 1 (or IGF-1). I highlighted omega-3 fatty acids as the number one most valuable supplement for any dog in my article: 3 Natural Supplements for Dogs Like Yours.
IGF-1 is responsible for the rapid growth of new antler annually. Since this growth factor has been demonstrated to influence cartilage growth, it makes for a unique ingredient in a senior dog joint supplement.
Why New Zealand?
New Zealand is the largest producer of antler velvet in the world, which is why you might see pet supplements labeled: Deer Velvet for Dogs NZ. However, that piece of trivia has nothing to do with why I only recommend antler velvet sourced in New Zealand.
In The Ultimate Guide to Supplements for Senior Dogs, I discuss the regulation (or lack thereof) of the pet supplement industry. However, the U.S. does take very seriously its importing of products — especially those sourced from animals (like deer).
As I began to use more and more antler velvet for dogs in my practice, I decided to develop my own label, Encore Mobility™ Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs, with deer velvet from New Zealand.
This process was more than I had bargained for. The volume and complexity of the paperwork from multiple governmental agencies was a nightmare. It was like filing a dozen federal tax returns over many months.
There was one part of the paperwork with several questions about the purity and safety of the deer velvet ingredient. Confused, I reached out to the veterinarian from the United States Department of Agriculture in charge of my case. When I explained my situation he said, “Oh you can skip that part.”
“Really?!” I exclaimed with relief. “Why?”
“Because you are importing from New Zealand. New Zealand is free from the diseases we’re concerned about in this section so it’s not relevant,” he replied.
An article in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal entitled Chronic Wasting Disease Prions in Elk Antler Velvet explains more. Transmitted through ingestion, prions are viral-like proteins that can cause fatal disease in animals and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. Sadly, these prions are present in the antlers of some elk and deer populations around world.
New Zealand Deer Velvet is free from this disease (and others) that can be transmitted through tissue and are of concern in human and animal health.
The United States, Canada, and Europe have all had positive cases of the chronic wasting disease in herds mentioned above. But even with extensive and careful monitoring, there has never been a single case in New Zealand.
Translation: It matters where the deer velvet comes from.
Deer antler velvet benefits for dogs
The Advanced Textbook on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology lists conditions for which deer antler velvet can be helpful. The list is long but starts with, “chronic diseases marked by general lassitude, spiritlessness, and lumbago (pain in the muscles and joints of the lower back). These are big words, but they basically describe a loss of luster and back pain. I see these issues clinically all the time in senior dogs.
Deer antler velvet works quite well for canine arthritis, but it works quite differently too. There is not another ingredient in supplements for dogs on the market today that has the unique resume of deer velvet.
A clinical double-blind and placebo-controlled study demonstrated deer velvet’s efficacy in dogs who had osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Dogs given deer velvet supplements showed improvement in gait, activity level, and vitality during the 60-day trial. The study helped establish that feeding deer velvet is beneficial to mobility. Also worth noting: the study detected no side effects.
The list of deer velvet benefits for dogs is long. In addition to the above, it’s known to benefit blood cell production, boost the immune system, and even offer some level of protection from stress.
What about the deer?
There’s one more reason why I’m pro New Zealand Deer Velvet. The National Velvetting Standards Body (NVSB) governs the antler velvet industry in New Zealand. This means a trained and licensed NVSB veterinarian oversees and monitors antler processing.
New Zealand deer velvet comes from ethically-farmed sources where harvesting is done under local anesthesia to be humane.
Unfortunately, other countries do not necessarily hold to these rigorous, well-thought-out standards in deer and elk antler processing.
Deer velvet for dogs reviews
Scientists and doctors agree that the strength in an argument for use of a drug or supplement comes from research evidence and not personal anecdotes. But these stories are valuable nonetheless. I suppose it is only fair that I lead off the section with my own personal review.
My heart dog, Jake, who you can read about in my article on tips for bringing a stray puppy home, began limping about two years ago. I put him through all the paces, but it’s Murphy’s Law that I could not figure out what was going on with Jake! After multiple exams, X-rays, acupuncture sessions, chiropractic adjustments, and several drugs, Jake was not better.
So off we went to see a board-certified veterinary orthopedic surgeon. This made me feel better and worse at the same time. Better because I learned that I hadn’t missed something, but worse because the orthopedic specialist couldn’t make a diagnosis either. Jake continued limping significantly on his right front leg.
I’m embarrassed to say that I hadn’t thought about our Encore Mobility™ deer velvet supplement sooner. I prescribe it for my patients with chronic pain and arthritis but had never thought about using it for a more acute lameness problem.
In desperation, I started him on the supplement. It was my last step before an MRI under anesthesia. Within three days, Jake stopped limping. It was rather shocking, to be honest. Of course, I can’t prove it was from the supplement, but I didn’t change anything else. Jake’s story alone got my attention.
What do other dog parents say about Encore Mobility deer velvet supplement? Two dog moms, Kathryn and Jennifer, share their heartwarming stories:
Deer velvet for dogs (NZ) and hip dysplasia
“We have a 14-year-old Jindo mix with hip dysplasia and joint problems. She has been using ToeGrips® for over a year, which helps her navigate hardwood floors and tile much more easily. But the pain and soreness in her hips were evident in her lack of interest in playing with toys and going for walks. Dr. Buzby suggested Encore Mobility Deer Velvet for Dogs NZ. Within 2-3 weeks, she had more vigor and vitality. She started playing with her toys, pushed her bed around like the old days, and would play outside in the grass…sometimes even running again. She is nearly her old self…and it’s great to see her playful antics are back. Truly an amazing product! I would recommend deer velvet for any dog suffering from hip and joint problems.” — Kathryn
Deer velvet for dogs (NZ) and IVDD
“I have two short-haired Dachshunds: one is 11-years-old and one is 5-years- old. In late October, the younger one tweaked his back from jumping off the couch and was in a lot of pain for several weeks. He slowly got better after strict crate rest, Neurontin, and a muscle relaxant…In early December, Oscar launched from the couch again. I forgot to put him in the crate and he re-injured himself. The cycle of multiple vet visits, strict crate rest, Neurontin, and a muscle relaxant began again…Then, it was recommended I call Dr. Julie Buzby. Her advice was life-changing for Oscar. “Try the Deer Velvet for Dogs NZ while he’s recuperating with his daily crate rest.”
The results were incredible! After three days of deer velvet supplement, Oscar’s sadness changed to happiness and he began to regain his normal activity level. My husband and I will continue the New Zealand Deer Velvet as a daily regimen for Oscar. He does have intervertebral disc disease (as many dachshunds do), so we are very grateful for this product to keep him pain-free and active for many years to come!” —Jennifer
Deer velvet for dogs side effects
“Above all, do no harm” is the medical mantra. I’m delighted to say with confidence that deer velvet passes the test. In all my research and in using this product in patients for several years, I’ve never seen any red flags.
One more thing…what about antler chew toys?
This article on deer velvet would not be complete without a brief mention of antler chews. Although a totally different topic, I want to be abundantly clear. They are a firm “no” in my opinion (and the opinion of every board certified veterinary dentist I know.) While I love deer velvet as a supplement for dogs, I do not feel the same way about deer or elk antler chews.
In fact, I had to learn the hard way. My dog Luke fractured several teeth gnawing on an antler because I was naive. They are unsafe for dogs of all ages. If you’d like to learn more about choosing safe chew toys for your senior dog, read my full expose, Safe Chew Toys for Dogs: Vet Recommended Tips to Help You “Chews” Wisely.
My favorite deer velvet supplement for dogs
Remember the months of paperwork I had to fill out to import my deer velvet supplement for dogs? Allow me to introduce the fruit of my labor…
Encore Mobility™ Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs, in bottles of 30 or 90 tasty chewable tablets, is my go-to product. It contains both Bioactive Deer Velvet and Green Lipped Mussel for Dogs. These work naturally and synergistically to promote joint health, comfort, and flexibility. Not to mention that the best joint supplement for dogs is not just about joints.
I recommend Dr. Buzby’s Encore Mobility™ Joint Supplement for Dogs to my clients. With New Zealand deer velvet and green-lipped mussel, it helps maintain and support healthy tissue, cartilage, and joints.
Do you have questions about New Zealand deer velvet?
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