Are Greenies Bad For Dogs?

Greenies were a once-controversial treat. But things have changed, and it’s become clear that Greenies are not bad for dogs when used as recommended. I did the research and wanted to share with you what I learned about Greenie safety.

Are Greenies digestible? 

In early 2006, it was reported that Greenies were linked to esophageal and small intestinal obstructions, i.e. some serious digestive problems. Perhaps in response, in late 2006, Greenies parent company, S&M NuTec, LLC, changed the Greenies formula to address these potential digestive issues by making changes to the ingredients and changes to the size and shape of each Greenie. 

Since then, Greenies have been confirmed to be digestible, and I haven’t come across anything that says otherwise other than a handful of warnings not to feed very young and very small dogs Greenies. Anecdotally, my dogs, 30-pound goldendoodles (which I have had since 2015) digest Greenies just fine. Thus, to answer the question, are Greenies digestible? Yes, Greenies are digestible for dogs older than six months older who weigh over five pounds as discussed below. 

Are Greenies good for dogs?

Greenies are vet recommended, so they are more than likely good for dogs. We also know that Greenies are healthy in that they are low in fat and are made with natural ingredients that pack some essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Specifically, as taken directly from the Greenies website, Greenies are made from these solid ingredients:

Wheat flour, wheat gluten, glycerin, gelatin, oat fiber, water, lecithin, natural poultry flavor, minerals (dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, magnesium amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, selenium, potassium iodide), dried apple pomace, choline chloride, fruit juice color, vitamins ( dl-alpha tocopherol acetate [source of vitamin E], vitamin B12 supplement, d-calcium pantothenate [vitamin B5], niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement [vitamin B2], vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride [vitamin B6], thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], folic acid), turmeric color. 

With regard to nutrition of Greenies, here is what the back of the Greenies bag says:

are greenies good for dogs?

Taking a look at the nutritional information, two things pop out: Greenies are low fat, but they are not low calorie.  

Moving on to Greenie feeding guidelines for your pouch, Greenies says this on their website:

Feed one GREENIES™ Dental Chew per day. For dogs 25-50 lbs. Not suitable for dogs less than 5 lbs, or dogs less than 6 months of age. Fresh drinking water should always be available.

Greenies different sizes make them safer

Greenies come in a variety of sizes you can buy making them just as safe for different sized dogs. The size type of the Greenie is designed for a specific weight of a dog to make it easy to chew and digest based on each dog’s weight. To that end, for digestive safety (i.e., not getting stuck in the intestines), a big dog should not eat a Teenie Greenie and a small dog should not eat a Large Greenie, and so on like this:

  • Teenie Treats Greenie: 5-15 lbs./2-7 kg
  • Petite Greenie: 15-25 lbs./7-11 kg
  • Regular Greenie: 25-50 lbs./11-22 kg
  • Large Greenie: 50-100 lbs./22-45 kg

The key is the chewing. If a dog doesn’t chew a Greenie, then there is a higher risk of the treat getting stuck in the digestive system. Therefore, the above-noted Greenie size types are specially designed to promote chewing and to be chewed properly for various, individual dog sizes.

Can Greenies make dogs sick?

If you follow the above-noted size and daily feeding guidelines and ensure your dog is not allergic to any of the listed ingredients (which would be very rare), your dog should not get sick eating the recommended number of Greenies. Anecdotally, one of my doodle’s gets sick from everything but kibble, and she has never once gotten sick from a Greenie or two. 

I did however read about one or two Reddit user’s dogs who got slightly sick from a Greenie, so it’s not like it could never happen. Still, hundreds of other user posts on different forums I scanned said their dogs did not get sick. Thus, chances are your dog will not get sick from Greenies, buts it’s still best to just try one and see what happens before feeding her one or two Greenies every day. 

All in all, vets recommend Greenies, vet tecs recommend Greenies, the Veterinary Oral Health Counsel recommends Greenies, I recommend Greenies and it seems from my research that many people on the internet (since the 2006 formula change) do recommend Greenies, so it’s reasonable to say that Greenies are safe for dogs. 

Are Greenies safe for dogs with kidney disease?

My dog has kidney disease; she had kidney failure after her spay due to her (unknown at the time) allergy to NSAIDs. She survived, and once she got better, we asked our vet if she could have Greenies before we gave her her first one. The vet said it was fine, and five years later, having served my dog thousands of Greenies, I can say, for me at least, Greenies are safe for dogs with kidney disease. There has been no kidney complications from me serving my dog with kidney disease Greenies whatsoever. 

Are Greenies OK for puppies?

No, Greenies should not be given to puppies. Greenies should only be given to dogs six months or older. 

Do Greenies make dog’s breath better? Do Greenies clean teeth?

Greenies says they help fight plaque and tartar build-up, freshen breath, and maintain healthier teeth and gum. Plus, Greenies are shaped like a toothbrush, so of course they clean teeth. But, in all seriousness, do Greenies actually make dog’s breath better and do Greenies clean teeth?

First, ensure Greenies are not a replacement for regular dental veterinary exams and teeth cleanings.  Now, with that said, the Veterinary Oral Health Council does agree that giving your dog a Greenie once per day does help oral health. 

Greenies help control plaque and tartar buildup by something called “mechanical abrasion”. As a dog chews the Greenie, its chewy texture allows the teeth to sink in for tooth contact causing a mechanical scraping and scrubbing of the tooth surface. The special shape (a tooth brush) of Greenies and texture are designed for maximum “mechanical abrasion”. 

In this regard, eating a Greenie is kind of like flossing, brushing your teeth and using a toothpick. 

Personally, I have noticed less yellow and brown stains on my dogs’ teeth and better breath when we have Greenies in the house. I say this because sometimes we forget to buy Greenies, and I believe there is a noticeable difference in my dog’s mouth during those periods. I think my dogs’ teeth look whiter and their breath smells better.

Are greenies OK for older dogs? 

Greenies make a special treat for older dogs, so I would recommend you buy that one instead of regular Greenies to stay on the safe side. This is because senior dog Greenies have a 50% softer texture. This way it will be easier to chew and therefore digest. 

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