Friday, March 18, 2011

Does Your Dog Love Greenies....

Greenies have become a wildly popular chew treat for dogs, due to their "healthy" appearance (a green-colored toothbrush shape) and the fact that most dogs love them. We thought it important to let people know that some dogs have been harmed by them. Some dogs have even been killed by them. Despite this, they are carried by almost all pet stores, even natural pet food stores, due to strong customer demand.

Here are just a few of the many stories regarding the danger:

Pompeii was 8 weeks old when I began to care for her. I am 76 and so hoped that we would live out our lives together. We went through puppy training, obedience training and earned an AKC good canine citizen award. We then began agility training. She was almost always more advanced than me. Through the training and when I made the wrong move she would so inform me with a sharp bark. We did our first agility trial in El Paso where she won two blue ribbons. We were scheduled to compete in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Las Cruces, New Mexico and Odessa, Texas but then I made the fatal mistake of giving her that wretched Greenie. She was always such a happy little girl. I had been giving her these things for about 7 months without any ill effects and so trusted using them. I had not taken the time to do a Yahoo or Google search as to any problems. An hour after giving her the final Greenie, I found her on the floor. Her body was completely inert, but still warm. I tried mouth to mouth, CPR and the Heimlich and rushed her to a nearby dog training center for more knowledgeable help. It was futile. We at that time did not know the cause of her death. The next day our vet did an autopsy and found a chunk of that wretched Greenie lodged in her trachea. He told me that there was no way I could have removed it. We must inform everyone of the danger from these "treats". If I had had any warning in any way, this tragedy would not have happened. Please tell everyone. --Gilbert Wright

Our wonderful dog, a healthy, 4-year old rescued Miniature Dachshund, named Burt, died July 25, 2005. He was killed by a Greenie.

Burt was promptly admitted to an emergency hospital after vomiting blood, bile and collapsing on the local vet's examination table. The doctor suspected an intestinal blockage and recommended exploratory surgery. What the doctor found inside of Burt was 3-1/2 feet of necrotic (dead) small intestines, as well as the "foreign body obstruction" behind the problem. The “obstruction” was none other than a well-chewed, partially digested portion of a Greenie.

Both the large mass of dead intestines and the Greenie were surgically removed from Burt. The Greenie was saved and was rubber-like and spongy. It had absorbed liquids and had expanded in size about 25%. It was the "toothbrush" end. My wife recognized the ribbed contours of the toothbrush immediately. But, it took me a bit longer to recognize it because it was well-chewed (like they say it has to be).

Burt tried as hard as he could but he just couldn't hang on. He turned septic. He got pneumonia. He died 48 hours after the surgery with my wife and I by his side--after his 3rd cardiac arrest. The trauma was indeed too much for him and unfortunately the damage caused by the Greenie had already been done. Burt was killed by the Greenie. His problems would not have happened if it weren't for the wretched "treat" obstructing his intestines in the first place

Prompted by my outrage over the unnecessary death of my dog, Greenies investigated. We shared medical records with them. They spoke with our vet. Then, they spoke with me. They can't find any fault in our actions, or the doctor’s actions, or the timeline of events--at least, that's what Dr. Brad Quest (Greenies on-staff veterinarian) told me over the phone. I voiced my concerns with the product with him and told him that the product needed to be recalled and reformulated. To this day, they have not responded to this request.

And all this from a product that comes with veterinarian recommendations and "highly digestible" and "edible" claims on its packaging and website. We read the packaging. We followed the instructions. We had been feeding Burt Greenies this way for well over 1½ years with no problems and we supervised him every single time. I guess on that day we won that statistical Greenies lottery. Hooray for us. I constantly wonder who will be next.

Burt died 3 years to-the-day that he came into our lives. He is dearly missed by his family. He is not replaceable. Burt will not die in vain. Please think twice about this product. Make smart choices for your pets. Why take any risk at all? Our new motto for the company is this: Greenies: your dog can live without them.


Mike Eastwood on behalf of Burt


Mack the bulldog was ten weeks old and three lbs the day I took him home and became his caregiver. He didn't like to think of himself as a lapdog or even French for that matter, he was a construction site dog, a tough little guy. "I may be a runt, but I've got spunk!". The first meeting with Stella, the ridgeback, ended with Mack (5 lbs) chasing Stella (70 lbs) around the kitchen.

From the day Mack came home, he never left my side. In restaurants he would lie peacefully under the tablecloth cradled in my meetings, he would assume the same position on my knees and fall quickly asleep, "these humans are boring". Mack trusted me. I could pick him up in the air, on his back, his little legs would splay and he would be as relaxed as if he was spending a sunny afternoon at the ballgame (which we did). If I picked Mack up and he was on his belly, we'd play airplane, where I would hold his outstretched legs and he'd soar.

Mack was cream colored with the most amazing eyes that would peer deep into yours. This amazing boy seemed to be an old soul, wise and content. We were happy together. We were enjoying each other's company from morning to night, we had become a pack of two.

Last week while I was packing for our first camping trip together, Mack, now 16 weeks and 10 lbs, was enjoying a "Greenies" dog treat. I heard him choke and ran over to see if I could help. I tried to dislodge the chunk that he swallowed. I couldn't!!! I don't know if there is a doggie Heimlich maneuver, but I was trying it. I screamed for my neighbor who came upstairs and immediately tried to find help on the phone while I was still giving Mack the Heimlich and then mouth to mouth. The poor little boy's eyes were peering into mine silently screaming "Help me!". I kept doing both mouth to mouth and attempting to dislodge the Greenie, now with kitchen utensils. While giving Mack his last mouth to mouth, he spasmed, his little teeth dug into my mouth, and I saw the life drain out of my little boy. I clutched his limp body, and curled up in my tub sobbing hysterically. There had been nothing I was able to do to keep my little guy from suffocating. Please don't feed your doggies Greenies! Dedicated to the memory of Mack Straub, 2005. Thank you Mack for six weeks of pure love.

--Robert Straub,

From an unsolicited e-mail sent to Optimum Choices on 2/26/2006:
My name is Kathie Hill and I live in Lebanon, Kentucky. I, too, almost lost my 3 year old Shih Tzu to a greenie. Leo (shown on left in picture) weighs 17 pounds and I had purchased the petite size for him. I gave him one on a Thursday about a month ago, and on Friday afternoon about l:00 p.m., he became very sick. He would look up at me and cry just like a baby. He couldn't get comfortable. He vomited a little, and at the time I was watching him trying to figure out what was wrong. I also have another Shih Tzu named Theo who is also 3 years old. They are not related, but have grown up together and are just like brothers. They are inseparable.

After watching Leo get progressively worse over a 30 minute time, I immediately called my vet. I rushed him to her office and upon X-rays, she said there was something lodged in his intestine. I immediately knew it was a greenie. I am with my boys 24 seven and automatically know if they bat an eye the wrong way. I told her about my suspicions . She said he would have to remain in the hospital overnight. She would try and flush it out, and if that didn't work, he would have to have surgery. He had never been away from home and I was so worried about him. But he was so sick. I left him in her care and made her promise to call me before she left. She and her husband (who is also a vet) live next door to their office, so they checked in him all during the night. Right before, they closed she called and said he had passed it and he would be fine. She still kept him overnight to keep a watch on him, because there had been blood in his stool.

I was on the phone the next morning by 8 a.m. and she said he was ready to come home. I was there in 15 minutes. I brought Leo home and Theo was so glad to see him. He had paced the house looking for his brother and really missed him. Leo slept most of the day, but it took him a couple of days to get back to his old self.

When I first started seeing all the news reports, I had to tell my story. Lebanon, KY is a very small town in the central part of Kentucky. I know of 4 cases where greenies have been the culprit of sick dogs. One was Leo’s cousin, Bailey who had the same problem as Leo. One other was one of the Schnauzers that belong to the groomer that grooms Leo and Theo. I can only imagine how many more are out there and have not been reported.

We have 3 vet offices in our town. I have spent the day, taking information to them and they have promised to remove the greenies from their offices. We have to get the word out and I want to do whatever I can to help. I can’t imagine what my life would have been if I had lost my Leo. He and Theo are the sunshine in my day. Unconditional love and something that cannot ever be replaced.

--Kathie Hilpp,

This information on Greenies is one section in our Holistic Choices e-Book: Save Your Dog or Cat.

Greenies does make another product called Lil’ Bits, treats for pocket pets. They are made out of the same ingredients as the Greenie dog bones (toothbrushes) but are small bite-sized pieces. The manufacturer says they are recommended for puppies less than 6 months old, toy breeds, dogs weighing less than 10 pounds, dogs who have difficulty chewing or dogs known to "gulp" food or treats. While this may solve the problem of large size pieces getting stuck in the dog’s throat or intestines it does not address the problem of being hard to break down and indigestible or the fact that the processed wheat gluten and powdered cellulose are not native to a carnivore’s diet and can swell up inside the esophagus, stomach and intestines.

Another product by the same manufacturer is Feline Greenies. These are little fish-shaped pieces smaller than a dime. The ingredients list chicken meal, ground rice, ground wheat and corn gluten meal as the first ingredients. The chicken meal and ground rice are an improvement but there is still wheat and corn, two indigestible and unnecessary grains for obligate carnivores (i.e., cats).


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