All green and go

I thought it was time to provide an update on Zoë, otherwise known as the little princess.

She passed through her radiation treatment with flying colors, and seemed fine just after she got home. Then she got very quiet, and would spend most of her morning in my roommate’s closet. She played rarely, and wouldn’t snuggle with me much, probably because I’ve been the one to take her into the vet.

We knew that Zoë would be less playful after the treatment, because much of her playfulness was due to her hyperthyroidism. Chances are she would act a little less like a kitten, and more like an elegant lady of 13. It was discouraging though, to see the change in her. What was worse, after putting her through all what we did, after after a warning from the vet’s office where Zoë received her treatment, we had to stop giving Zoë her favorite treats: Greenies.

Greenies are crunchy, hard dental treats for dogs and cats. They’re manufactured in Kansas City, Missouri, from natural ingredients including chlorophyll. I picked this up as a treat for Zoë because of the chlorophyll, since she’s not an outdoor cat and doesn’t have access to grass. Zoë loves Greenies. She doesn’t meow when I call out ‘Treat!’, she squeaks with excitement. Animals absolutely love these treats.

When I was at the vet’s getting her two-week radiation test, I mentioned Greenies to the assistant and she looked at me, startled, and said the vet who treated Zoë, Dr. Hause, had just finished writing a report about the possible harmful effects of Greenies. I was stunned, thinking I had given something to Zoë that could harm her. When I came home, I threw out the Greenies and returned to some other treats she used to get.

I also started doing research on Greenies and discovered that there have been reported deaths of dogs– some mention 13, others over 44–over the years from Greenies. What happens with each is the dog doesn’t chew the treat enough and it lodges in their throat or stomach and can cause an obstruction; especially if they’re swallowed whole. This obstruction could cause infection, blockage for breathing, and any number of potentially deadly problems.

The controversy is enough that a site was created, The Truth About Greenies. This site, run by the Greenies company, answers some of the issues related to Greenies–providing positive reviews and customer and vet reports. The company has also issued an in-depth response to the concerns. There’s also an Urban Legend entry on Greenies. Though it doesn’t give credence that Greenies are foam rubber, it does mention that the cause and effects associated with Greenies and dog obstructions is still under investigation.

In all cases, there’s never a denial that Greenies can harm or injure a dog; however, as the company maintains, any hard, dental treat can injure a dog if the treat is the wrong size for the dog, or the dog doesn’t chew it properly. I gather that some dogs are ‘gulpers’, and as such, should never be given these treats. For other dogs, there are different sized treats for the different dogs.

I’ve always been aware of dogs and how they can have problems by swallowing too large a dog biscuit, or bone, or any hard matter. When I’ve had dogs in the past, we were always careful to make sure they got the right size of biscuit, they never had access to bones, and we monitored their eating habits. When I visited my mother last year, she told me never to give broken dog treats to her dogs, as they’re too small and could choke the dogs. She’ll only give them the whole treats, big enough to force the dogs into crunching them down.

There is one lawsuit against the company for a dog death. In this case, the dog was cremated and the treat destroyed, so it’s unsure how far this suit will go.

My vet’s report was in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the story, Dr. Hause stated, “Don’t give small dogs Greenies. Small dogs or cats.” This echoed what his assistant had told me.

However, when I checked with my regular vet’s office, a cat-only clinic, their response was that they had not heard of one negative incident related to the cat treats. Cats don’t have the same problems that dogs do with dental treats. They’re not gulpers, and even if they were, they would most like upchuck the unbroken treat. I know that Zoë does this with the hard, dental food the vet prescribed because her teeth have problems. However, feline Greenies are a relatively new product, too.

Are Greenies somehow harder than other treats? According to the company, they’re manufactured in a manner similar to other dog biscuits. As for the rumor that Greenies are toxic, this is balderdash; the same with the claim that these “aren’t 100% digestible, and as such are harmful”. As the company has asserted, there is no such thing as a 100% digestible food; if there were, there would be no waste. What the company asserts is that they are 100% edible. What is used in Greenies is the same ingredients used in most hard dog foods.

As for the cat treats, they’re no harder than Zoë’s dental food, and there has been no reported problem with Greenies and cats. Based on all this research, I started giving Zoë Greenies again.

Within three days, she was snuggling with me.

Today, she played her favorite game: tear up the back of Mom’s office chair.

Whether Zoë’s increased activity is due to the fact that time heals all, or due to Greenies, I don’t know. I do know she loves them and I love her, and if they’re not harmful and can help her teeth, I’m going to continue giving them to her.

As long as the company doesn’t go out of business that is. Rumor is about as deadly to a company, as a badly chewed hard biscuit is to a dog.

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