Can Cats Get Sick From Too Many Greenies?

What Are Greenies?

Greenies are a popular dental treat for cats made by the Mars Petcare company. Greenies were first created in 1996 by pet owners Joe and Judy Roetheli who wanted to find a solution for their dog Ivan’s bad breath. Inspired by Ivan’s story, Greenies were formulated to help clean pets’ teeth and freshen breath while providing a tasty treat.

The original Greenies treat for dogs was an edible green-colored chew treat made to fight plaque and tartar. Since then, Mars Petcare has created a line of Greenies products for cats as well. The key ingredients in Feline Greenies cat treats include wheat protein, glycerin, gelatin, artificial colors, and natural flavors [1]. The chewy texture and unique shape help clean cats’ teeth down to the gumline as they nibble on the treat.

Greenies Feline Dental Treats provide many nutritional benefits for cats. The treats are naturally high in fiber to help support digestive health. They are also fortified with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, taurine, and calcium. The calorie content ranges from 1.5 to 2 calories per treat. Greenies adhere to strict quality and safety standards and are made in the USA.

Are Greenies Safe for Cats?

There has been some debate over whether Greenies are safe for cats. In the mid-2000s, there were reports of pets, including cats, choking on Greenies treats. This led to an FDA investigation that found the treats could potentially cause esophageal obstruction or blockage issues if not chewed properly.

The FDA stated: “Dogs most at risk are those who tend to gulping food, instead of chewing it. However, all dog owners should exercise caution when feeding any treat.” Source

Greenies reformulated their treats after the FDA investigation to make them more chewable. They increased the treats’ flexibility and added blue and green colors to visually show pet owners the treats are being chewed adequately before swallowing.

While Greenies have addressed the choking concerns, some veterinarians still advise caution when feeding cats Greenies since they are not formulated specifically for felines. Cats have different nutritional needs than dogs. It’s best to follow feeding guidelines and monitor your cat when giving Greenies treats.

Active Ingredients in Greenies

The main ingredients in Greenies dental treats for cats are:

  • Wheat gluten – Provides texture and chewiness and helps hold the treat together.
  • Glycerin – Provides moisture and softness.
  • Gelatin – Binds ingredients and creates the chewy treat texture.
  • Soybean oil – Adds fat and flavor.
  • Sodium caseinate – A milk protein that adds chewiness.

Some controversial ingredients include:

  • Propylene glycol – A petroleum-based humectant that retains moisture. It is generally recognized as safe in small doses but can be toxic in large quantities.
  • Artificial colors – Greenies contains colors like Red 40, Yellow 6, and Blue 2. Artificial dyes provide color but no nutritional value.

Overall, the ingredients in Greenies are designed to create a palatable, chewy treat. While some ingredients like propylene glycol and artificial colors have faced scrutiny, they are unlikely to cause issues when consumed occasionally and in small amounts as part of a balanced diet.

Benefits of Greenies for Cats

Greenies are a popular dental treat for cats that provide several benefits. One of the main benefits is improved dental health. The unique texture of Greenies helps clean teeth and control tartar buildup as cats chew (Source 1). The treat’s shape reaches all surfaces of teeth, and the natural ingredients are gentle on gums.

Greenies can also promote hydration in cats. They contain water and minerals that encourage drinking. Staying hydrated supports kidney function and other aspects of health (Source 2).

Additionally, Greenies are an enjoyable treat for cats. They have a tasty flavor cats love. The treats provide mental stimulation as cats work to chew them. Giving Greenies as a reward can aid behavior training. Overall, they provide a fun way to supplement feline diets.

Potential Risks of Too Many Greenies

While Greenies can be a healthy treat option for cats in moderation, too many Greenies can potentially lead to some risks and health issues. Some of the key potential risks of overfeeding Greenies include:

Obesity: Greenies are calorie-dense treats. Feeding too many can lead to taking in excess calories and weight gain or obesity over time. Obesity is linked to many other health problems in cats including diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and more.

Nutritional imbalances: Greenies alone are not a complete and balanced diet for cats. Too many treats can lead to not getting proper nutrition from their regular cat food, resulting in deficiencies or imbalances over time.

Diabetes: Obesity is a major risk factor for developing feline diabetes. The excess weight and body fat can make cats more insulin resistant. Ensuring appropriate calorie intake through portion-controlled treats like Greenies is important for diabetes prevention.

Signs of Greenies Overdose

Cats can experience some gastrointestinal distress if they eat too many Greenies in one sitting or over a short period of time. The most common symptoms of a Greenies overdose include:

Upset stomach – Eating too many Greenies may cause nausea, loss of appetite, or gurgling stomach noises. The high calorie and fat content of Greenies can be hard to digest when consumed in excess.

Diarrhea – Too many Greenies can overwhelm the digestive tract and result in loose stools or diarrhea. The dairy ingredients like cheese powder commonly found in Greenies can cause diarrhea in some cats if too much is consumed.

Vomiting – Overindulging on Greenies may lead a cat to regurgitate their food shortly after eating. Vomiting is a common reaction when a cat eats something their body struggles to digest properly.

While an occasional Greenies overdose is unlikely to cause long-term issues, chronic overeating of Greenies can lead to inflammatory bowel problems or pancreatitis. Be watchful of any persistent vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite after your cat overindulges on Greenies. If the symptoms persist more than 24 hours, contact your veterinarian.

Recommended Daily Amount

Greenies recommends the following serving sizes per day for cats:

  • For cats 5-10 lbs: 6-8 treats per day, divided into two servings
  • For cats 10-15 lbs: 8-10 treats per day, divided into two servings
  • For cats over 15 lbs: 10-12 treats per day, divided into two servings

The company warns against exceeding the recommended daily servings. Feeding too many treats can lead to diarrhea or vomiting. Cats should be monitored when first trying Greenies to ensure they tolerate the treats. It’s also important to adjust serving sizes depending on your cat’s unique dietary needs.

As a general rule, Greenies suggests feeding 1 treat per 5 lbs of body weight, split into 2 servings per day. So a 10 lb cat would get 2 treats per serving, twice a day. Overfeeding can diminish the dental benefits by reducing your cat’s appetite for their main meals.

Tips for Safe Greenies Consumption

When introducing Greenies to your cat’s diet, it’s important to do so slowly and monitor their consumption carefully. Here are some tips for safe Greenies use:

Start with a small amount like one treat per day and gradually increase over 2-3 weeks. This allows your cat’s digestive system to adjust and reduces risk of upset stomach or diarrhea (Only Natural Pet).

Monitor treats closely, keeping count of how many are given. Stick to the recommended daily serving size based on your cat’s weight. Overfeeding can lead to vomiting or other issues (Greenies).

Consult your veterinarian, especially if your cat has any underlying health conditions. They can advise you on a safe serving amount and frequency for your individual cat.

Store Greenies properly, out of reach from your cat. Cats are known to get into treats and overeat when owners aren’t looking.

Pay attention for any signs of intolerance like decreased appetite, lethargy or diarrhea. Discontinue use if these occur and contact your vet.

Rotate dental treats as part of a balanced diet and combine with other teeth cleaning methods like brushing.

Following veterinary guidance and introducing Greenies slowly while monitoring your cat can help ensure safe consumption and dental health benefits.

Alternatives to Greenies

For pet owners looking to provide dental care and rewards for their cats without relying solely on Greenies, there are several alternatives worth considering:

Other Dental Treats

Many pet stores sell alternative dental treats that cater to feline dental health. Some popular options include CET Chews, Iams Dental Treats, and Whimzees Feline Dental Treats. These products aim to clean teeth and control plaque and tartar through ingredients like enzymes, abrasives, and anti-tarter actives. They come in various flavors and textures appealing to cats.

Brushing Teeth

Brushing your cat’s teeth daily or several times a week removes plaque and tartar directly. Use a soft-bristled brush and cat-safe toothpaste. Introduce brushing gradually and make it a pleasant experience with praise and treats. Brushing provides complete dental care, reaching places treats can’t.

Other Rewards

Consider rewarding good behavior or training with healthy alternatives like pieces of cooked meat or fish, commercial raw meat diets, freeze-dried treats, crunchy veggies, or praise and play. Rotating different rewards keeps motivation high. Check with your vet for appropriate options.


In summary, it is possible for cats to get sick from eating too many Greenies treats. Greenies contain ingredients like wheat, corn, beef, and chicken that can cause allergic reactions or upset stomachs in some cats. Eating too many at once also increases the risk of diarrhea or vomiting.

The key takeaways for cat owners are:

  • Follow the feeding guidelines on the package – usually 1-2 treats per day for an average-sized cat.
  • Monitor your cat for signs of an allergic reaction like itchiness or gastrointestinal upset.
  • Consider alternative treats if your cat has sensitivities or doesn’t tolerate Greenies well.
  • Don’t exceed the recommended daily serving, as overconsumption increases the risk of adverse effects.
  • Discontinue use if you notice any concerning symptoms and consult your veterinarian if they persist.

While Greenies can be a tasty snack for cats in moderation, be cautious of overfeeding to avoid potential health issues.

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