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Are Greenies Treats Safe for Dogs?

Greenies are one of the most popular dog treats in history. According to their website,, “Given regularly, GREENIES® chew treats decrease tartar accumulation eight-fold and freshens breath, with a taste and texture pets love.”

It has been estimated that dogs in the US eat over 150 million Greenies a month! But are they safe for all dogs?

At the 2005 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACIVM) meeting, there was discussion among internal medicine specialists about Greenies® causing esophageal obstructions that were difficult to relieve. Over 30 cases have been reported with most problems occurring in small breed dogs, however there was one case in a medium and one case occurring in a large sized dog. All the problems were related to ingestion of Greenies or similar products and resulted in esophageal foreign bodies. Complications reported include small intestinal obstruction; stricture, ulceration and perforation. A few pets died or were euthanized from complications. Greenies are also associated with tooth fractures in dogs.

There are no published surveys about the safety of Greenies or similar products, but it is clear that some dogs have problems with these chews. Greenies come in a variety of sizes including Jumbo for dogs over 100 pounds, Large for dogs 50 – 100 pounds, Regular for dogs 20 – 50 pounds, Petite for dogs 10 – 20 pounds and LilBits for dogs under 10 pounds and all dogs under 6 months old. The manufacturer recommends that you feed the correct size 1 – 2 times daily as a treat. They also offer this caution: “As with any edible product, monitor your dog to ensure the treat is adequately chewed. Gulping any item can be harmful or even fatal to a dog.”

According to a recent press release, S &M NuTec, the maker of Greenies dog treats, says it plans to change its packaging in response to complaints from some pet owners and veterinarians that the treat may pose a health hazard to some dogs. S&M NuTec also said it may remove a claim that Greenies are fully edible, saying its own studies show a dog can digest up to 85% of the treat.

What Should You Do?

If you feed Greenies as treats to your pet, be alert for signs of retching, trouble swallowing, difficult breathing, vomiting, or lethargy. If observed, contact your veterinarian immediately.

If you are feeding Greenies®, make sure you are feeding the correct size relative to the size of your dog. Monitor your dog to make sure he chews it adequately and does not “gulp” it. If he does not chew it adequately or if you have a small dog, you may want to consider not feeding Greenies®, offering a different treat, or sticking with good old plain good quality dog food which is all most dogs need.