Monday, February 20, 2006

Why Greenies Are Dangerous For Your Dog--Part I

How Greenies came to be
In the late 1990’s, Dr. Joe and Judy Roetheli weren’t overly fond of their Samoyed’s dog breath and devised a dog treat to be an effective alternative to brushing a dog’s teeth. In 1998, the dog treat, Greenies, was introduced and gave their competitors a run for their money with 325 million treats being sold around the world last year alone, overtaking the #1 dog treat spot by a landslide. Greenies are manufactured by a Missouri-based company called S&M NuTec.

A lawsuit
A rescued Miniature Dachshund, “Burt”, died July 25, 2005 at the age of 4. A Greenie was found obstructing his intestines. Burt died 48 hours after the obstruction was surgically removed. Burt’s family filed a lawsuit against S&M NuTec on November 30, 2005.

Common sense
In my non-professional opinion; Greenies pose a danger to every dog due to the biological digestive process of the animal. Asking owners, as the manufacturer does in the fine print, to make sure their dogs don’t gulp the dog treat known as “doggie crack” is ludicrous. It goes against the dog’s own nature and may not be a possibility. Part I of Why Greenies Are Dangerous for Your Dog is dedicated to canine digestion, intestinal blockage, and the lack of common sense of the manufacturers. I urge my readers to take my conclusions seriously and ask your vets for a professional opinion.

Digestion—a quick lesson
Canine digestion is very different than human digestion. Wolves eat their food quickly in an attempt to protect it from being stolen. They do not use their jaw muscles and teeth for chewing; instead they rip off large sections of meat and swallow them whole. The function of canine teeth is to cut, much like a knife. Wolf digestion is quite efficient for its purpose, objects not broken down become encased in undigested fur, and thus the intestines are protected from injury.

Wolves and dogs, as almost-true carnivores, do not have salivary amylase, an enzyme that exists in human saliva and begins the digestive process. Salivary amylase is an enzyme, a “biological catalyst” increasing the rate of a chemical reaction. From what I understand, dogs, unlike humans, will digest any starches/carbohydrates they eat in the small intestine where amylase and other enzymes *are* found and produced by the pancreas.

A dog’s saliva creates an efficient lubricant that glazes food and helps with swallowing quickly. No chemical breakdown is occurring; the digestive chemical process has not begun. This is how dogs can gulp down their food. They are biologically made to do so.In the stomach, digestive enzymes are added to the consumed food, proteins are beginning to break down in the high acid ph of the stomach. The mucus that lubricated the food now protects the lining of the stomach wall from being digested by the enzymes. The food that is primarily protein should now be a thick milky liquid and will pass into the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. The main site for digestion of carbohydrates is in the small intestine (the workhorse of the digestive system) and enzymes, such as amylase, are added. The broken down nutrients are then absorbed across the wall of the intestine and into the blood stream.

Lack of common sense
Greenies manufacturer, S&M NuTec, says that the most popular dog treat is recommended for dogs over 6months of age and 5 pounds of weight and consumption should be followed with water. In addition, there is a 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.” Unfortunately for dogs and their owners, favored treats will be consumed like a ravenous wolf at a kill, quickly with minimal chewing. It’s simple biology.

What is an intestinal blockage?
An intestinal blockage occurs when the intestinal contents cannot move because the intestinal walls are not contracting normally. A dog that vomits can indicate an obstruction located high in the intestinal canal. Obstructions found in the lower areas of the small intestine or in the large intestine are not able to be dislodged by vomiting. When a lower obstruction occurs, the intestine expands from swallowed air and accumulated debris creates pressure that causes a loss of blood supply. The loss of blood supply results in cell and tissue death, called necrosis. In surgery, necrotic tissue must be removed. The walls of the intestines may then become more porous than it already is, allowing toxins into the bloodstream. A highly dangerous situation, many dogs do not survive.

Burt isn’t the only dog to have suffered such a digestive Greenie catastrophe. The newswires are currently burning with news of other dogs and families that are suffering from similar problems associated with the dog treat. CNN reports that their investigation discovered that there have been 40 occurrences of Greenie extractions. Unfortunately 13 of those cases will await their owners at the Rainbow Bridge. The CNN story can be found here.

Jessica Tighe
This article can only be reproduced when proper credit is given to the author and the website link is included.


Blogger Dee said...

Great minds think heard this on the news earlier and thought I would put it in my blog for all my pet loving friends.

11:16 PM  
Blogger aPugsLife said...

Very well written. As you know, I agree w/ you about Greenies being dangerous. My Riley Pug almost needed surgery to remove a piece of greenie. Very scary.

5:16 AM  
Blogger Mr. Pink said...

I don't know much about Greenies. Yet.

But here's to sorting out how to get a profile picture as lovely as you do sometime soon.

Thank you both for the Inspiration.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Spider63 said...

Greenies feel and look like particle board. When my dog threw up a greenie it was like bits of plastic and chunks of compacted fiber.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Ridgeback Ranger said...

Thank you all for your comments. I'm very interested in the regurgitated Greenie. I'm wondering if it didn't cause a "higher" intestinal blockage that was able to be dislodged through vomiting.

I think the water is needed (the instructions say to have your dog drink water after Greenie consumption) to help break down the cellulose which is like a glue, while I'm thinking the acidic ph of the stomach is what breaks down the gelatin.

It's my theory that these two things are what allow the Greenie to pass through the digestive system. With one step missing, problems arise. One step can easily be missed because you take a dog to water, but you can't make him drink!

Part 2 will be my Greenie experiments. If dog owners are going to keep buying them (I'm guessing quite a few will and dismiss the warnings as 'hype') they need to fully understand how a Greenie breaks down. This will protect the dog at the very least.

I'm so warm-fuzzied by the people that care so much about their dogs. Thank you! Please get the word out about how a dog's digestive system works. The chunks of Greenie consumed are going to have a difficult time finishing it's breakdown (or not happen at all) in the small intestine, the powerhouse of the digestion system, NOT THE STOMACH. Protein ONLY gets digested in the stomach, and only proteins that dogs have the enzymes to break down. Different breeds can also have different digestive requirements based on their natural enzyme production. Different dogs, different natural systems.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Ridgeback Ranger said...

I meant glycerine, not gelatine. (grin)

5:15 PM  
Blogger Jeannie said...


You are awesome my friend! Thanks so much for spreading the real truth about Greenies! Can't wait for part II.

I will be blog rolling you on two of my blogs! Whole Dog News and Boston Terriers Rock

8:58 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

My mixed terrier has been having problems with diarrhea/vomiting for 6 weeks. She has lost 14 lbs and my vet has no explanation and $400+ of tests that have revealed nothing. Now he wants to do a barrium x-ray for another $400 which I would not be opposed to if it will identify the problem. My dog has eaten these "greenies" in the past. I am wondering if this could be the cause and if the duration of it is plausible? If anyone has any input it would be GREATLY appreciated. Like I said it is not the money but the vet bill is climbing and my dog is getting sicker by the day. Thanks for the great info on this horrible product for future reference and anyone who might have had a similar experience that could provide some insight. Laura

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Jessica Tighe said...

It's going to be tough to say what exactly is causing your dog's problems, especially if a vet can't figure it out either, lol, :)

Out of curiosity, does your dog lick the fabric of places he lays for long periods of time? (The old fur licking-off-fabric is an intestine protecting action).

Have you tried giving your terrier kefir, yoghurt, or raw (not-pasteurized) goat or cows milk? The reaction to these things would tell you a LOT. There is actually a goat dairy about an hour from Fort Worth, they do ship frozen milk if I remember correctly.

Also, you may want to put some apple cider vinegar in the dog's water. Not a whole lot, but maybe half a tablespoon to one pint of water.

More specifically, your question is could greenies have affected my dog's digestion? The answer is yes, it could have affected your dog's digestion. Obviously there is no obstruction, but there's the possibility an obstruction passed prior to the visit with your vet. An intestine wall could be slightly damaged. We just don't know. (And I'm not a vet, lol). There are other factors involved including how you feed your dog. If you feed your dog "normal" dog food, your dog may have a stomach acid issue.

A terrier (especially a mix) is a hardy animal, so these problems are very alarming. FERMENTED foods are soft on the stomach and intestines, having already been pre-digested by the good bacteria. As fermented foods are acidic, if no problems occur out of at least one end, your dog may in fact have a stomach acid problem, i.e., not developing enough acid to maintain a stomach ph of 1.

If there is an acid problem, you will know because your dog will not throw up. The other end may still be runny, but whatever the problem is, it will take time to fix.

God Speed to health for your terrier, and let me know if you try the above and the results. My first dog was a terrier mix and they occupy a special place in my heart.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, cool it a bit. Greenies were on the market and selling very well for eight years, now you blame everything and kitchen sink on it. I also copied about chocolate being extremely poisonous for dogs: "Milk chocolate: 1 ounce per pound of body weight. Approximately one pound of milk chocolate is poisonous to a 20-pound dog; one-half pound for a 10-pound dog. The average chocolate bar contains 2 to 3 ounces of milk chocolate. It would take 2-3 candy bars to poison a 10 pound dog. Semi-sweet chocolate has a similar toxic level." YOU NEED HALF POUND OF CHOCOLATE TO POISON 10-POUND DOG! Don't you think he/she would not be able to eat that much?
Get a life, it might help put things in perspective.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our dog had many problems with greenies -- I wish we'd known about this. We stopped giving them to her after she continued to throwup. We thought maybe we weren't giving her the right size, so we tried different sizes. Always supervised, but even swallowing small pieces caused serious problems.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and we switched to z-ridge. No problems with that brand. It is made by Zukes. She's been fine since.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Ridgeback Ranger said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry to hear your dog had a bad experience with Greenies. I'm thankful that you took a moment to let me know how you were affected.

I've been thinking of carrying the Zukes line, I've heard many good things about it.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankyou the digestion bit helped me with my biology homework. P.s Greenies suck

11:16 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

This is absolutely shocking! Ive been feeding all 3 of my dogs Greenies for years, I'm extremely terrified of the danger I've been putting them in. Thanks for the information though!!


9:34 PM  
Blogger Barkery girl said...

Interesting. Iwonder how hey think an owner is to INSURE water conumption after eating. Someone has cearly never hear. "You can lead our dog to water but you can't make him drink."

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I brought our new dog home a couple of weeks ago. To introduce our cats to our dog we rewarded both animals for being in close proximity by giving each cat Greenies, because these were the only treats we had around. That Friday night our dog was fine and by Saturday he was regurgitating, lethargic, and not eating or drinking water. I figured it was his nerves from being in a new home. By Sunday afternoon I became concerned so I took him to a Vets office where they believed he had parvo and implored me to leave the dog for 24 hour monitoring and care. I did, but a couple days later they got a fecal sample that said the parvo test was negative. By this time my dog was starting to eat on his own and regain his energy. Why he was sick has always been unexplainable but I believe it was the Greenies. I told many people including the vets, dog owners, and dog store owners that all I fed him were the greenies prior to his sickness. Everyone responded that it was not the treats that got him sick. After reading online stories from dog owners who's animal got sick and some who even died from eating greenies, to the opinion of vets on the safety of greenies, I am convinced these treats are not safe. In tests the best dog treats dissolve in water fairly quickly. Greenies can take days to turn into the mush that dogs can digest, making intestinal blockage more likely. I am never buying this product and I would advise all to do the same.

11:35 PM  
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Anonymous Mrs. De Pass said...

I had my new puppy at the emergency vet (for Giardia) and there was another owner in the waiting room awaiting their dog having $5,000 worth of surgery to fix a blockage guessed it...Greenie consumption. The ER vet said she has seen several cases of this and said people should NEVER feed these treats to their dogs. Who knows why they don't just take them off the market.

6:44 PM  
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2:36 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Had my first negative eperience with Greenies last night. My 8lb Morkie kept making chewing and swallowing motions. First check revealed nothing - under the bright light was a long slimy dark thing that I tugged at. It finally came loose and turned out the be the remnants of a "small dog" Greenie he had swallowed that got stuck in his throat. Good thing I caught it as he could have died. All Greenies are now in the garbage. Spread the word. Thanks!!

11:39 AM  
Anonymous 3Pugs3 said...

We believed Greenies were safe. They had changed the formula to be fully digestible, softer, bendable. So we started to use them again recently. Our pug swallowed & has chocked on a Greenie & is still in 24 hour vetinary care, as it has lodged in her esophagus. We are waiting 3 days later to see if it disolves, or if they need to operate to remove it. Needless to say, despite the emotional anguish this has caused us, it is costing us
thousands of dollars so far!!!

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got my dog to drink water with a small piece of summer sausage in its water dish. It floats around and he keeps lapping at it.... I wish I'd have read this before my dog got all gummed up. Poor little fella.

8:03 AM  
Blogger rosaG said...

Greenies were reccomended for our 9 week old puppy by someone at the pet food store.

We gave her one on saturday, and seeminly suddenly on Monday morning she became very ill, lethargic and dehydrated - we rushed her to the Vet.

When the vet phoned my boyfriend to tell him xrays showed what looked like the head of a toothbrush lodged in her intestine, we knew right away that it was a portion of a greenie.

Luckily as she was rehydrated the blockage seems to have moved through the intestines on its own. So far so good, we are lucky she did not need surgury - she was extreemely ill and we are so glad one of us was there when she fell ill.

After investigating, we are realizing what a hazzard these 'treats' are. We will advise against them to all our friends and family with pets...

7:21 AM  
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Anonymous Jay Casper said...

I gave my poodle a greene and the next day he was throwing up and had diarrhea. Took him to the vet and he was on IVs for 2 days and he finally got over it. We almost lost him.

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10:49 AM  
Blogger Jae Smith said...

I have an 8 y.o maltese. Been giving him greenies for years never to much probably. But the older he got the more weeks he had where he was sick throwing up diarrhea on and off. We took him to vet numerous.times never a clear answer. Then about 6 months ago he got really bad really sick really fast nite eating not moving breathing heavy lethargic throwing up blood running blood out of his butt more time went by he got way worse the night before only thing he ate was a greeenie.. Took him to emergency at 12am they said if we would waited any longer hr probably would have died and it hadn't even been that long they rushed him in and he was there for 4 days they said he had HGE or somethin like that also said it wasn't from greenies but in my non professional opinion it could have very wall havs been them. We haven't used them since ( among others things changed food and everyday treats). And have had no issues

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They need to take greenies off the market because of all the sickness its causing to the animals.i have a 8 week old hairless crested that the vet gave him a little greeny and he has been sick since then.either take them off the market or pay the price...

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 8week old crested will not eat or drink now after a vet visit they gave him one of those greeny treat and he has been sick since he will not eat or drink i have to give him liquid by syringe does anybody have any ideas please help me thanks

1:32 AM  
Anonymous tony said...

I definitely thank everyone for posting their experiences with greenies. I have a boxer, 11 year old. She was sitting up funny, wouldn't lay down, heavy breathing and she could barely get up. Her abdomen area causing her pain. My brother in law brought greenies over two weeks ago. Since then she has been getting up later to go out. Yesterday I thought she was going to die. But my wife says she ate a greenie the day before at a very fast pace. I've been giving her white rice and chicken, unseasoned. She passed stool and urinates the day of.. So that is why it was confusing. I feel like punching my brother in law next time I see him. I think greenies caused a slight blockage in her lower intestine. Thanks for all the helpful info people. She is doing a lot better today.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 7 lb Yorkie loves Greenies but has often gotten sick will vomit and stay in her bed for a couple days Twice we have taken her to the Vet found nothing next day she is fine. After one of her episodes she didn't ask for her nightly greenie so we stopped giving them to her for a long time no vomiting and lethargic episodes. So we tried them again on the third time she was sick again No more Greenies!

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Tara said...

UGH. I found this and other sites after my 2-yr-old rescued poodle started having horrible diarrhea. I figured it had to be either the bit of salmon skin I gave her or the greenie. She is going to the vet tomorrow since it's only gotten worse after 3 days. ��

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