You may have recently viewed chain-spam and internet postings about the potentially deadly results of consuming Greenies. Health information found over the internet is so often of an extremely dubious nature. One of the reasons for establishing this e-newsletter and responding to client requests was to provide veterinarian approved information from a known and credible source. The claims against Greenies require more investigation, but seem to have a basis in truth. Following, we will try to provide a balanced view of the situation.
The Problem:A number of people are alleging that Greenies either lodged in dogs’ throats and choked the dog or caused intestinal problems such as blockage. This complaint will gain more publicity in the coming months due to a $5 million dollar lawsuit. Newsday reports that the owners of a deceased miniature dachshund recently filed suit against the manufacturer of Greenies.
The Real Question:The real question that pet owners should consider is “Does this product pose an unusual or unwarranted hazard to pet health?” Eating is dangerous. Dogs can choke on any number of consumable products just as children can choke on hard candies. Nylon bones and rawhide also pose a choking hazard to dogs in as much as a dog can get a piece lodged in its esophagus. In the lone experience of Healing Springs Animal Hospital (a facility receiving emergencies 24/7), the answer is, “No, Greenies have not demonstrated an unusual hazard to dogs.” While Healing Springs periodically sees cases of choking and intestinal blockage, this hospital has never seen a case caused by Greenies (statement current as of September 5, 2006).
Intestinal blockage is a constant concern for dogs. They love to chew non-food items, and dogs have a tendency to swallow large chunks of hard-to-digest items. The accusers are alleging that Greenies are not adequately digestible. The treat manufacturer, S&M NuTec, counters that their digestibility testing showed Greenies to be more digestible than dog food “when properly chewed.” The two most common causes of intestinal blockage seen at Healing Springs are bones and corncobs. Healing Springs has not yet seen one case of intestinal blockage related to Greenies consumption.
Consider the Math:We have included links to mass media news sources featuring individual reports about problems with Greenies. These reports have credibility. S&M NuTec points out that it sells millions of Greenies every week. This is not to say that the complaints lack credibility. Rather, it is to put the danger in perspective. If there are 21 cases of Greenies related illness ever year, that would mean the probability of a problem is beyond one in a million. Is this more or less dangerous than putting your dog in the car to drive to the groomer? As of yet, most complaints are of an anecdotal nature, and the technical complaints have not been presented in an academic setting where they can be properly scrutinized.
What to Do: Determine your own risk tolerance. Any chewable treat or toy that can be consumed represents a hazard to your pet. Is it an undue level of danger? Consider this. The experience of this busy hospital includes zero Greenies problems. It includes many, many problems with dogs in the road. If you really want to ensure your pet’s safety, make sure it can’t get in the road. Healing Springs sees many parvo cases. Make sure your puppies are properly vaccinated. The cases of intestinal obstruction seen at Healing Springs usually involve bones from human meals and corncobs. Do not fee your dogs bones from human food sources. Keep dog out of your trash and the trash of your neighbors for the dog’s sake. When you do treat your pets with Greenies, watch them consume the treat. You want them to chew it to nothing. If they bite off chunks and swallow chunks, take it away from the dog and discontinue use of the treat. Finally, learn to recognize the signs of intestinal blockage.
Subsequent issues of the Animal Health Bulletin have more information on Greenies.