The Truth About Greenies. Do These Treats Really Clean Cats’ Teeth?

Introduction

Greenies are a popular dental treat for cats that are designed to help clean teeth and control tartar and plaque buildup. The brand was created by S&M NuTec, and the treats come in a variety of flavors like salmon, tuna, and chicken. Greenies utilize a unique shape and texture along with added vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients to scrub a cat’s teeth as they chew the treat. This mechanical abrasion helps scrape away tartar and plaque. Additionally, ingredients like zinc sulfate and chlorophyll are meant to reduce bad breath. The intended purpose and benefits of giving cats Greenies are improved dental health through daily chewing of the treat.

Ingredients

Greenies contain several main ingredients, according to the manufacturer’s website. These include:

  • Wheat flour
  • Wheat gluten
  • Glycerin
  • Gelatin
  • Oils (soybean, vegetable, etc.)
  • Natural flavors
  • Vitamins and minerals

The specific ingredients can vary slightly between flavors and products. For example, the oven roasted chicken flavor contains chicken meal as an additional ingredient (https://www.greenies.com/products/feline-greenies-adult-natural-dental-care-cat-treats-oven-roasted-chicken-flavor-46-oz-pouch). Greenies states that all their ingredients are natural and safe for pets.

Veterinary Recommendations

Veterinarians overall recommend Greenies dental treats for cats as an effective way to help clean teeth and control plaque and tartar. Greenies claims their dental treats are veterinarian recommended and the #1 choice for veterinary oral care plans. Many veterinarians suggest giving cats 1 Greenie per day as part of their dental health regimen (Source).

According to Well Pets, veterinarians endorse certain cat dental treats like Greenies that are formulated and tested to be safe and effective. Veterinary experts say the crunchy texture and shape help clean teeth, remove plaque, and freshen breath. The natural ingredients also appeal to vets compared to synthetic ingredients. While no treat replaces dental cleanings, vets view Greenies as a supplement for at-home dental care (Source).

However, some veterinarians advise caution with Greenies since there have been rare instances of digestive issues if cats consume too many. Vets recommend following dosage guidelines and monitoring your cat’s eating habits. Overall though, most vets approve Greenies as an adjunctive dental health product according to the ingredients, nutritional profile, and effectiveness for plaque and tartar control.

Benefits of Greenies for Cats

Greenies dental treats for cats can provide several benefits related to feline dental health and oral hygiene according to veterinarians and the Greenies website (source). The uniquely designed texture and shape of Greenies treats helps clean cats’ teeth and control tartar buildup as they chew.

The abrasive exterior scrubs away plaque and tartar on the surface of teeth. The treat’s texture also helps prevent further buildup and works all the way down to the gumline. The gritty surface scrapes bacteria and debris off a cat’s teeth (source).

Regular chewing and gnawing on the treat can help break up tartar and scrape away plaque on the teeth before it hardens into calculus. The treat’s crunchy texture and fibrous consistency is designed to be somewhat abrasive to aid the dental cleaning process (source).

In addition to these mechanical cleaning benefits, ingredients like sodium tripolyphosphate may help control tartar chemically. The treats also contain vitamins, taurine, and other nutrients to support overall health.

Risks

The main risk associated with greenies for cats is the potential choking hazard. According to sources, the shape and texture of greenies can present a choking risk, especially for kittens and smaller cats. If the treat is not adequately chewed, it could potentially get lodged in the cat’s throat. There have been some reports of cats choking on greenies posted in online forums.

For example, one pet owner posted that they gave their 6 year old cat and 4 month old kitten each a greenie treat. The kitten snatched one treat from the older cat and ended up choking on it (https://thecatsite.com/threads/greenies-kitten-choking-hazard.305228/).

Veterinarians recommend monitoring your cat closely when giving greenies to ensure they are chewing thoroughly before swallowing. It’s also best to avoid giving the treats to kittens under 1 year old. Cutting the treats into smaller pieces can further reduce choking risk (https://www.justanswer.com/cat-health/57e9m-someone-told-feline-greenies-dangerous-cats.html).

Alternatives to Greenies

While Greenies are a popular dental treat option for cats, there are several alternatives pet owners can consider:

Purina DentaLife – These oven baked treats come in a variety of flavors like tuna, salmon, and chicken. They are designed to reduce tartar buildup. According to veterinarians, the crunchy texture scrapes away plaque and tartar.

Whiskas Dentabites – These treats contain calcium carbonate to control plaque and tartar. They come in chicken and salmon flavors. The texture helps clean teeth and freshen breath.

Feline Greenies – This Greenies alternative features a crunchy texture and a unique shape designed to clean the entire surface of a cat’s teeth. It is available in tuna and chicken flavors.

Purina Dentalife – Veterinarians recommend these daily oral care treats that feature a ridged texture to break up plaque and tartar. The treats are available in poultry, salmon, tuna, and catnip flavors.

Overall, there are a variety of dental treats for cats that provide an alternative to Greenies. Pet owners should consult their veterinarian to determine which option is best for their cat’s unique oral health needs.

Case Studies

Many cat owners have shared their experiences using Greenies dental treats for their cats online. Here are some examples:

One Amazon reviewer said their cat “loves the Greenies treats” and they noticed a difference in her breath after eating them:

“My cat loves the Greenies treats. I give her one per day and her breath is so much better. I used to give her the tuna flavor before but she seems to like the catnip flavor the best.” – Amazon review

A pet owner on ConsumerAffairs said Greenies helped clean their senior cat’s teeth:

“My 17 year old cat has bad teeth, and the Greenies treats have really helped clean them. Her breath smells so much better now too.” – ConsumerAffairs review

Based on these reviews, many cat owners have found Greenies dental treats help improve their cats’ dental health and breath.

Dosage

The proper dosage of Greenies dental treats for cats depends on the weight of the cat. According to the Greenies website, the recommended dosage is 2 treats per day for a 10 lb adult cat. The treats should be given twice per day.

For cats under 10 lbs, Greenies recommends starting with 1 treat per day and monitoring your cat’s appetite. For cats over 10 lbs, Greenies recommends increasing to 3-4 treats per day. Each treat contains only 1.5 calories, so adjusting the dose based on weight will help avoid overfeeding.

The treats are formulated for cats 1 year of age or older. Kittens under 1 year old should not be given Greenies treats. Cats with diabetes or food allergies should also avoid Greenies unless approved by a veterinarian.

When first introducing Greenies, it’s advisable to monitor your cat closely and don’t exceed the recommended daily dosage. Gradually transition to the full dose over a week or two to allow your cat’s digestive system to adjust. Exceeding the dosage can potentially cause stomach upset or diarrhea.

Greenies recommends discarding any unused treats after 7 days of opening the package. The treats can dry out or lose flavor if left open too long. Cats may reject treats that are stale, hard, or moldy.

In summary, when used properly Greenies dental treats can provide nutritional and dental benefits. Monitoring your cat’s individual response and adjusting the dosage as needed is important for safety and acceptability.

Conclusion

In summary, the evidence suggests that greenies can offer some benefits for cats when used appropriately. The main ingredients in greenies are safe and effective for oral health. Veterinarians often recommend greenies to help clean cats’ teeth and reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

The key benefits of greenies are fresher breath, reduced plaque and tartar, and overall improved dental health. However, there are some risks to be aware of, mainly related to choking. Greenies should always be an appropriate size for the cat and provided under supervision.

Alternatives like dental treats and tooth brushing can also be effective for cats’ dental health. Ultimately, greenies seem to be a helpful supplement for many cats’ oral hygiene, though regular veterinary cleanings are still essential. They should be fed carefully and as part of an overall dental care plan.

The recommendation is that greenies can be a useful part of dental care for cats, provided cat owners follow guidelines on size, dosage, and supervision. Greenies should not replace professional cleanings but can offer dental benefits between vet visits. As with any supplement, consult your veterinarian to decide if greenies are appropriate for your cat.

References

This article referenced the following sources:

American Veterinary Medical Association. “Dental Care for Pets.” https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/dental-care-pets

Banfield Pet Hospital. “The Truth About Greenies.” https://www.banfield.com/banfield-foundation/greenies-dental-treats-for-dogs-and-cats

VCA Hospitals. “Periodontal Disease in Cats.” https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/periodontal-disease-in-cats

PetMD. “Why Vets Recommend Dental Chews for Dogs and Cats.” https://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/evr_dg_the_use_of_dental_chews

Petco. “Greenies Regular Dental Dog & Cat Treats.” https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/greenies-regular-dental-dog-and-cat-treats

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