Greenies Scare

18 Feb

Greenies dog treats have been in the news lately because of a few cases in which large chunks of the treats have been thought to cause intestinal blockages in dogs. The company has in some cases paid for the surgery required to remove the blockages, but maintains their treats are safe for dogs.

I know that some dogs chew more thoroughly than others. I have one dog who bolts food and treats and another who makes them last. It seems to me that any treat could cause a blockage if large chunks were swallowed by the dog. There are some who do not feed their dogs rawhide chews for this very reason.

However, I also know that newspapers and television news shows like stories that imply danger, because fear makes people buy the newspapers and watch the shows. (If you doubt this, listen to your local news commercials and see how many times they say, “Your child could be at risk” “Are you safe at work?” and other comments of that ilk.) So I’m sure the media outlets, in their effort to be viewed as a trusted and much-needed influence in our lives, play up the danger in these stories and avoid statistics such as:

  • What percentage of dogs who eat Greenies have experienced intestinal blockage?
  • How does this compare to the percentage of dogs who eat other types of treats and experience intestinal blockage?
  • In the cases where dogs who ate Greenies experienced intestinal blockage, does the veterinary surgeon say that the blockage was caused by the Greenies?

I have no connection with the company that manufactures Greenies, nor am I paid either to defend or attack them. However, I do have some experience with the media (as a former national magazine editor in the pet industry) and feed Greenies to my own dogs. My only complaint is that they’re so expensive. My dogs love them, as do most dogs. (I have my own theory about why they’re so nuts about Greenies, and it involves sweeteners.) If they’re found to be dangerous, I will stop feeding them to my dogs. But let’s not get hysterical until we get more than self-promoting media hype and get some facts.

A response to this recent media attention is noticably absent from the website of the company that makes them, S&M Nutec LLC ( I think it’s a mistake. They need to get in front of this. 


Posted by on February 18, 2006 in In the News


26 responses to “Greenies Scare

  1. Connie Link

    February 20, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    I found a website called that provides more information on the real risks associated with Greenies. I think your initial impression, that the press is overstating the problem, is right on. Any incident rate times “hundreds of millions of treats” is going to result in some problems. My dog loves Greenies, has been eating them for years, and will continue to get them!

  2. Elizabeth

    March 20, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    I gave my 12 lb. apricot poodle a greenie last night for the first time. I gave it to him and then minutes later went on line to read up about the dangers of Greenies. Not 5 minutes had passed and after reading an article about the blockage, I decided to take the Greenie away from him. He fought me for it but after getting it away from him I saw that he had completely chewed off the tooth brush head part of the Greenie. I didn’t see it around and was concerned at how he could have chewed the end off and up into small pieces in just 5 minutes. At 5AM this morning I was woken up by my dog coughing a vomiting in my bed. He threw up the end of the Greenie. He had bitten off the entire end piece and swallowed it whole. He was not able to digest it but was thankfuly able to throw it up. I will not be giving Greenies to my dog again. What if he was not able to throw it up or did begin to digest it? That was a close call for us.

  3. jacque fleshman

    March 22, 2006 at 3:27 am

    Friday, March 17th, our precious dog died a horrific death which we feel was caused by greenies. we had four dogs and gave all of them greenies and noticed she was eating her’s and all of their’s, too. in a few days she became ill and we took her to a vet who thought she was hurting in her back. a few days later she became violently ill and we took her to an emergency vet clinic and they performed surgery. they thought they say something on an x-ray like a toy or something plastic. when they got in they couldn’t find anything like that, but they found three perforations in her bowels. they repaired those, but she already had a very bad infection. a few days later, after she didn’t get better, they went back in and removed a quart of puss from her abdomen. this poor thing was suffering terribly. the only thing to do was to put her to sleep during that second surgery. we feel so terrible guilty for giving her greenies.
    feel free to contact me.

  4. Maily

    May 2, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    I know by now this is a bit of an old topic, but here are my two cents. Any treat given to a dog, or any animal, needs to be overseen the first time. Some dogs can’t have rawhides or certian kinds of toys and some dogs can’t have greenies. I swear by them and have loved them ever since my husband and I got our first dog. My dogs have no problems with it. But my dogs can’t have certian toys or stuffed animals becuase they are too distructive and try to eat the fluff out of stuffed animals. One of my dogs has allergies to some “junk food’ type treats. So they don’t get those kinds. But the first time she got sick I wasn’t going to sue the company or demand it be taken of the market. All dogs are different and there are thousands of different kinds of treats out there you can give your dogs.

  5. William

    May 6, 2006 at 7:41 am

    After almost losing my 2 year old mini poodle to a Greenie, I will never give them to my dogs again. She chewed it down for a few minutes and then tried to swallow it whole. The Greenie got stuck in her throat and blocked the airway. If I hadn’t been right there to clear it out, I’m certain she would be across the Rainbow Bridge right now.

  6. carol parrillo

    May 16, 2006 at 3:22 pm

    I had been giving our dog Marley greenies for over a year. He loves them and drives me crazy for his “treat” every afternoon. He’s a 12 year old smooth fox terrier and weighs 21 pounds. I was giving him the smallest size, which my Vet tells me is very lucky.
    Two weeks ago, at about 2:00am Marley vomited an intact 1/3 piece of the greenie I had given him more than 12 hours before. It was absolutely intact. He then started “stretching” and moving backwards around our bedroom. It didn’t take us long to figure out that the rest of the greenie was somewhere in his intestine.
    We were at our Vet’s office when they opened that morning. I explained what happened. Our Vet felt something and told us to leave him for xrays. They decided to give him barium so that they could see the obstruction and tell if it was complete. He also hoped it would help push the obstruction through. Unfortunately it was a complete obstruction and our Marley through up barium for the next 8 hours.
    At 4:00pm our Vet called and said given Marlye’s age, he recommended surgery before his intestines were damaged and his system was too stressed.
    We are so fortunate that our Vet is so wonderful and is so patient. He located 2 pieces of the greenie in Marley’s small intestine. Rather than cutting the intestine, he massaged the pieces through the small intesting down to the large intestine hoping that then they could be passed. They were passed about 18 hours later and were basically still pretty much intact and readily identifyable as pieces of greenie.
    Three days and $2,000 later, Marley came home with three shaved legs (for the IV’s), a shaved stomach, a 5 inch incision, a mophine patch and a cone collar. He was supposed to be on “resticted” activity for 2 weeks – no jumping, running, stairs, etc. (Do you know what fox terriers are like??). Good thing I had just lost my job the Friday before this happened so I could stay home and nurse him.
    Well, it’s now been a little over two weeks and he’s on the mend, jumping and running like his usual nutsy self. He’s stilll driving me crazy for his afternoon greenie – but I can tell you, never again. We are lucky it was an obstruction (instead of choking), that we recognized it right away and that our Vet is WONDERFUL!
    Be very careful!

  7. Norma

    July 19, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    I agree with Maily…all dogs are different. It seems like a lot of the problems that other dogs have had were cause by swallowing the treat whole and not chewing it properly. There are going to be horror stories about every treat and every dog toy ever made and we, as parents, need to supervise our babies whenever they’re doing something new. I do realize that some things cannot be avoided…how was anyone to know that their dog wasn’t going to chew a chew toy and swallow it whole?! Anyway, we wind up taking risks with nearly everything we do with our dogs…we just have to weigh everything. and that’s what makes being a parent so tough and so rewarding.

    MODERATOR’S NOTE: Norma, you’re a voice of reason. I have two dogs. One can’t eat Greenies because he vomits in the middle of the night. The other one has no problem. The one that can’t handle them has a very sensitive stomach and vomits any time he has anything he’s not used to. Almost anything that’s not his normal food will make him reject it. It’s just a matter of knowing your dog, monitoring how fast he’s eating anything and using common sense. – L.W.

  8. terri

    September 12, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    We almost lost our 2 year old dog to Greenies as well, we gave him one a week the 3rd one just about killed him and cost us $1000 vet bill. After reading about greenie problems from many other sites I feel that half the stories are where the dogs choke and suffocate to death, the others like ours, it causes an obstruction which creates a stomach infection or other intestinal problem. The ER Vet explained to us that Greenies do not show up on an xray because they are considered a “food source”, how convenient for the manufacturers! So most people are left guessing whats wrong their dog and why is their dog dead on the floor when they get home from work (cats too). We just talked with a neighbor who has taken her dog to the vet 3 times in a month and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him, they thought his back had been injured. We told her they start eating grass ravenously and that stretching thing they do is because it hurts trying to pass that greenie, so we suggested she look into it being the cause. I find it hard to believe anyone who has read about these problems would continue playing Russian Roulette with their dogs life, but you don’t have to pass an IQ test to adopt a dog or buy a puppy. It’d be like hearing a parent say “but little Johnny just loves to play with matches and nothing has happened yet”. Also people, don’t you realize most lawsuits and settlements include a confidentialty clause, maybe thats why you aren’t hearing more death stories. We would rather tell every pet owner we come across about our experience than get a few bucks and have to keep quiet. They just had a vet talk about this last saturday on a major network morning show, he showed the difference between a regular biscuit and how greenies don’t break down. As for the people who don’t believe the stories , how do you know the “Pro Greenies” threads aren’t from sales reps who get a commision on them?

  9. Tsaipei Wang

    September 29, 2006 at 8:30 am

    Dear sirs,

    The new formula for greenise dog chews now contains Gelatin (animal bones)!!!

    I strongly suggest that change gelatin to another vegi ingredients such as corn or kelp jelly. Because prue vegi formula is safe and healthy. And vegetarian diet for both human and animal is now a trend in europe and in the whole world. Thank you for your attendtion. Hope we’ll have pure vegi chews and food for dogs very soon.

    Tsaipei Wang

    NOTE FROM MODERATOR: Gelatin does contain animal products. But it has been consumed without side effects by humans for decades, so there is no reason to think that it is harmful just becauseit contains animal products. I’m skeptical about the idea that it’s more healthful for humans and dogs to be on an all-vegetarian diet. Dogs are carnivores and humans are omnivores. Our digestive systems are intended to digest meat. It may be possible to live without meat, but that doesn’t mean it’s biologically preferable. I respect those who choose to go vegan, but I think it’s going too far to impose that on our dogs. Besides, there are plenty of poisonous plants out there. “Vegetarian” doesn’t always mean “safe.” As to your request for veggie chews for dogs, has chews made from dried sweet potatoes. They don’t last as long as rawhide chews, but they smell wonderful, taste great (yes, I’ve tasted them) and do provide some chewing satisfaction for moderate chewers. More enthusiastic chewers will find them merely a longer-lasting snack than a real chew. But perhaps a tough toy and accommodate their need for gnawing.

  10. Stephanie

    November 4, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    I gave my one year old golden retriever, Diego a greenie last night. He seemed to really enjoy the treat and got a little too carried away. He ended up throwing at least half of it up this morning and had horrible diarrhea from it! That is the end of Greenies for him as he is banned from eating them. I think that all dogs are different and ours eats everything! What can I say? He is a golden! Please be careful with Greenies and all dog toys.


    February 14, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    I gave my dog a regular size greenie last night
    then in the middle of the night she began vomitting.
    then early the next morning she trew up again.
    No more greenies!

  12. Karen

    July 21, 2008 at 10:41 am

    PROBLEM WITH NEW GREENIES FORMULA, AND WITH DOG.COM! I have been a loyal Greenies customer for about two years, starting with the old formula. Not only did my dog hesitate when I gave her the new formula for the first time, but now I can only give Greenies two stars because the new formula is defective … it goes moldy! Well before their expiration date, you’ll start to find tiny white, fuzzy mold spots all over them. I’ve even seen this in the bags of Greenies in pet stores. I keep them in a cool dry place but it doesn’t help. So I called for a refund or exchange or store credit, but DOG.COM DOES NOT STAND BY ITS PRODUCTS! My dog loves Greenies but she does sometimes get a chunk stuck in the side of her teeth and needs help getting it out. Factoring in all of these problems, I am sincerely disappointed. I want Greenies to go back to the old formula!!!

  13. dachshundlover

    September 3, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    I can’t believe people are STILL feeding Greenies of ANY size to ANY of the beloved animals, dogs or cats!! These things are dangerous, people, dangerous. If even ONE dog dies because of a Greenie not digesting or getting stuck or whatever has happened, why would you want to even consider giving such a thing to your dog or cat? Why? I “use” to give my 4 dogs a Greenie a week (couldn’t afford to give them more frequently — not to 4 dogs), but once I read actual vet reviews and various stories on blogs (too many far too sad), I stopped them immediately. My fur babies mean far to much to me to think “these stories are hype”. No Greenies, no way, no how, not ever again.

  14. Babz

    January 4, 2009 at 8:04 am

    The one time I fed Greenies to my shihtzu and yorkie, they ended up vomiting. No more.

  15. s cared

    February 28, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    I hope to God I haven’t done a bad thing. My vet okayed a Greenie for my precious fur baby Princess. I gave it to her tonight. I’m scared now that she’ll have a blockage, or worse after reading these posts.
    Princess never chews anything well. She’s been a gulper since she was a baby. Now she’s 11 and has heart failure and Asthma. If she gets a blockage I will lose her. All of our vets are afraid to put her to sleep for surgery because of the risks of her heart.
    I tried to coax her away from it with food, but she wasn’t about to give it up. She had eaten half of it within 5 minutes and carried the other half even as she came to see what I had. I got on some garden gloves just in case I could get it from her. She WOULD bite me for trying. lol But before I could get near her, she finished off the rest of it. I pray she’ll be ok, but I won’t ever give her another.

  16. Melinda

    May 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Now I am freaking out as well! I gave Basil his first Greenie two days ago, before I realized any of this. I took the last part of it away b/c I did not want him to try to swallow the piece whole. Now I am going to be freaking out about an obstruction…how do I know if he has one?!

  17. Karamel

    September 20, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I am alittle bit confused about the product. I gave Karamel (5 months old puppy) Greenies biscuits yesterday night and today morning. Are we talking about the same product that people complain as dangerous (the biscuit) or is it the “Greenies treats” that are dangerous?
    I appreciate if anyone can clarify this issue for me. Thank you!!!

  18. Marcy

    July 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I just recently experienced a close call for my dog. I gave her a greenie on a Wednesday, she was fine when I left to pick up my children from camp. When I got home my dog was green from head to toe. Her cage was full of green throw up. I didn’t think much of it and bathed her. Through out the evening she showed signs of distress and had blood in her stool. She was not acting like herself. She could do a bowel movement and when she tried, she would poop out clots of blood. I immediately took her to the vet and she had to spend there four days, in where they gave he Barium and did several xrays that showed the pieces of greenies causing obstruction. She was finally able to pass them down. Thanks to the wonderful vet and God she is now recuperating from this horrible experience. According to the vet this is not the first case he sees like mine. He has had many cases that the dogs have died due to the greenies. I payed closed to $2000 in medical bills. Money I had to pay for my kids upcoming school year. It outrages me that there is nothing being done about this. If i would of have known of this i would have never put my dog at risk. Dog owners who have had a bad experience with greenies need to speak up and file complaints to the company. If they are going to continue selling this product, then warning labels should be placed in their products informing the consumers of the dangers it can cause.

  19. suzanne patterson

    December 10, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    My rat/fox terrier Tootsie loves greenies and “inhales” them. She throws up later. So she doesn’t get them anymore. Haven’t offered (don’t intend) them to the manchie/doxie mix Lola we adopted from shelter.

  20. Debbie

    January 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I wish I would have read these BEFORE I fed my little chihuahua one of them yesterday. This morning, he has vomiting and diarrhea! there is blood in his stool. I am very concerned. I called the vet, they said to watch him for now. Will update on how he is.

    • Debbie

      February 4, 2012 at 11:50 am

      Update on my precious Bentley. He was sick for 2 days because of that Greenie. It did get better. He is fine now. Ever since the incident, people have come out of the closet with horror stories about Greenies. Please advise everyone you know that these things are BAD!!!!!!

  21. Charlene

    February 4, 2012 at 10:29 am

    My mom gave her dog a Greenie. The dog got very sick afterwards. We weren’t sure what happened, the only thing that we could think of was the Greenie. Several months later my mom broke down and gave the dog another Greenie. The dog had been active, happy and running around right before. A few hours later the dog was dead. We contacted the company and wrote letters, but they refused to acknowledge that Greenies killed her dog. The only way we have been able to stop other pet owners from giving their dogs Greenies is by word of mouth. We called several vets in the area, told them our story and most of them do not even sell Greenies because of it.

    • Jennifer

      April 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      Today our dog died from Greenies. I am posting everywhere and telling anyone I can not to use this product. This has been one of the worst days of our lives and then finding out that so many other dogs have suffered the same makes me physically ill.

      • Debbie

        April 3, 2012 at 11:06 pm

        I am so very sorry to hear of your doggy dying from these AWFUL, DEADLY things. I am not sure why in the heck they are still on the market. I truely believe that there needs to be warnings posted everywhere these are sold. It is so terrible that your precious angel had to suffer before succumbing to the Greenie. Bless you and your family.

  22. cindy

    April 15, 2012 at 9:15 am

    OMG! I had never heard about this before until I read about this danger on a professional pet sitting blog. I’m shocked! I’ve been feeding my dogs these for years. I thought they were suppose to be good for our dogs teeth. My babies won’t be getting these anymore.

  23. Shirley

    October 20, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Where have I been, you might say? Oh my God! Here I am thinking I doing something healthy for my precious Havanese by feeding them the tiny light greenies. I did notice that the older, larger dog seemed to gulp his down in two bites while my little girl dog takes her time and chews them well. I was wondering whether I should go ahead and buy a larger size for him so that it would last longer. After reading this, while I agree that many dogs may eat them for years without an issue, I will never be feeding them to my babies again.


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