Dear Dr. Barchas:
Charlotte Arlington, TX
I, too, have heard rumors of Greenies lodging in dogs’ intestines. However, Greenies are very popular among my clients (and their dogs), and to date I have not had to treat a single pet for Greenie-related problems.
Sadly, the same thing can not be said for many other chew treats. For instance, I cannot count the number of meat bones that I’ve surgically removed after dogs swallowed them. Nor can I count the number of teeth I’ve extracted after dogs broke them chewing on bones.
Likewise, many of my patients have suffered severe diarrhea or vomiting, sometimes requiring several days of hospitalization, after consuming rawhides, pig’s ears, or cow hooves.
My conclusion about Greenies is that, although they may not be 100% safe, they are probably better than other chew treats as long as they are used under proper supervision.
For the record, brushing your pet’s teeth is the safest (and most effective) option for his dental health. It’s too bad that dogs don’t enjoy tooth brushing as much as they enjoy treats.