Do Greenies Really Freshen Kitty’s Breath? The Truth About Those Treats


Greenies are a popular dental treat for cats made by the Mars Petcare company. They are designed to help clean cats’ teeth and freshen breath while providing a tasty snack. Greenies come in a variety of flavors and have a unique texture that helps scrape away tartar and plaque as the cat chews.

Greenies are marketed as an alternative to brushing for dental care in cats. The treats feature a green color and a recognizable bone shape, though they are made of edible ingredients rather than rawhide or bone. Greenies were originally developed for dogs but a feline version has been available for many years. They are considered a supplement to an existing diet and recommended to be fed in limited quantities.

What are Greenies?

Greenies are a popular dental treat for cats made by the Mars Corporation. They come in a variety of flavors, sizes, and formulations:

  • Ingredients: The original Greenies formula contains wheat flour, glycerin, gelatin, oat fiber, water, lecithin, natural poultry flavor, minerals (dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride), vegetable oil, mixed tocopherols, rosemary extract, and green tea extract.
  • Sizes: Greenies come in regular size treats for adult cats as well as petite size treats for kittens and smaller cats. The treats are available in resealable pouches, tubs, and bags ranging from 5 oz to over 40 oz.
  • Flavors: Some of the most popular Greenies flavors are tuna, salmon, chicken, catnip, and shrimp. They also have limited edition seasonal flavors.

Greenies are designed to help clean cats’ teeth and provide oral care. The unique texture helps reduce tartar and plaque buildup as cats chew. Greenies claims their dental treats are veterinarian recommended and accepted by over 85% of cats.

Benefits of Greenies

One of the major benefits of Greenies dental treats for cats is that they help clean teeth and reduce tartar buildup. The unique texture of Greenies treats helps scrape away plaque and tartar as the cat chews [1]. By reducing tartar buildup, Greenies can help freshen a cat’s breath. The crunchy texture is designed to be abrasive enough to clean teeth but not so hard that it damages tooth enamel [2].

In addition to the dental health benefits, most cats enjoy the flavor and texture of Greenies. The treats are made to be appealing to cats with a variety of flavors like tuna, salmon, and catnip. The crunchy texture provides cats with something satisfying to chew on. Many cat owners find that their cats eagerly consume Greenies treats as part of their daily routine.

The combined dental benefits of plaque and tartar removal plus the appetizing flavor and texture make Greenies a popular choice for many cat owners looking to care for their cat’s teeth and oral health.

Potential Risks

While Greenies dental treats can provide beneficial dental care, they do pose some potential risks that cat owners should be aware of:

Choking Hazard – One of the most concerning risks with Greenies is the potential for choking if the treat is too large for the cat. Greenies recommends sizing the treats appropriately for your cat’s weight, giving treats one at a time, and monitoring your cat while they eat the treat. There have been instances of Greenies getting lodged in cats’ throats or intestines, causing severe medical issues or even death in some cases.

Gastrointestinal Issues – Some cats may experience gastrointestinal upset after eating Greenies, including vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. This seems to occur most frequently when cats are given too many Greenies at once. It’s important to limit treats and follow feeding guidelines. Some ingredients like wheat gluten may also cause stomach upset in sensitive cats.

Allergies – As with any treat or food, some cats may have allergic reactions to ingredients in Greenies. This is most often seen as skin irritation, itchiness, hair loss, or skin infections. Discontinuing use of Greenies typically resolves the allergy symptoms.

While many cats enjoy Greenies safely and gain dental health benefits, cat owners should supervise treat time and be mindful of potential risks like choking and digestive issues. It’s also wise to monitor for any signs of allergic reactions when first introducing Greenies treats.

Veterinarian Recommendations

Professional opinions on greenies safety and efficacy are generally positive, though some vets do express concerns. According to the Greenies website, their dental treats are the #1 vet-recommended feline dental treat. The treats are designed by veterinarians and undergone clinical testing to ensure safety and effectiveness at reducing tartar and plaque. The rough texture and shape are intended to clean teeth surfaces as cats chew.

Many veterinarians agree that Greenies are an effective dental treat when used properly. Dr. Katy Nelson states, “Greenies are a great choice for dental health” though must be “used under supervision.” Dr. Gary Richter also recommends Greenies as having “proven dental health benefits” but notes dosage and supervision are important. However, some vets have expressed doubts about long-term safety and effectiveness. Dr. Karen Becker says studies on Greenies are funded by the company itself, so independent verification is needed. And Dr. Marty Goldstein argues “nature has better solutions” than highly processed Greenies treats.

Overall, most veterinarians approve of Greenies dental treats as part of an oral care regimen, as long as pet owners follow dosage guidelines and supervise their pets while eating them. There are some dissenting opinions on their necessity and safety compared to other solutions, but Greenies remain the top recommended commercial dental chew.

Owner Feedback

Reviews from cat owners who have used Greenies are generally positive. On Amazon, Greenies have over 5,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.1 Many owners say their cats love the taste of Greenies and get excited when it’s treat time. Owners note fresher breath, reduced plaque buildup, and improved dental health as benefits.

Some negative reviews mention cats not liking the texture or struggling to chew the treats properly. There are also rare instances of cats getting sick or gagging after eating Greenies. However, the majority of owners say their cats enjoy Greenies without issue and they would recommend the dental treats.

On ConsumerAffairs, Greenies has over 250 owner reviews and is rated 3.5 out of 5 stars. Positive feedback focuses on the dental and oral health benefits. Negative reviews reiterate texture and choking concerns, especially for older cats with dental issues.2

Overall, most cat owners who have tried Greenies report a positive experience and noticeable improvements in their cat’s dental health and breath freshness. Proper supervision is advised when feeding to monitor chewing and minimize risks.

Alternatives to Consider

While Greenies are a popular dental treat option for cats, there are some other veterinarian-recommended alternatives to consider as well:

Purina DentaLife Daily Oral Care Cat Treats are a solid veterinarian-approved choice that includes delmopinol, an antiplaque ingredient to help reduce tartar buildup (Source). These crunchy cat treats come in flavors like tuna and poultry. They help clean teeth surfaces while providing a tasty snack.

VetIQ Minties Dental Treats for Cats are veterinarian formulated using natural ingredients like peppermint and parsley. They come in flavor varieties like catnip and tuna, providing a tasty chewing experience that helps reduce plaque and tartar (Source).

Whiskas Dentabites Cat Treats offer a budget-friendly dental treat option that cats seem to love. They are crunchy treats that come in chicken and salmon flavors. The ridged texture helps scrape away plaque and tartar (Source).

Dosage and Feeding Instructions

Greenies recommends feeding one dental treat per day based on your cat’s weight. One full-size dental treat is equivalent to about 15g. The recommended serving sizes are:

  • 5 to 10 lbs – 6 to 8 treats per serving
  • 10 to 15 lbs – 8 to 10 treats per serving
  • Over 15 lbs – 10 to 12 treats per serving

It’s important to monitor your cat while giving Greenies to prevent overconsumption. Only give the recommended daily serving. Break larger treats into smaller pieces if needed. Don’t exceed 6 treats per day for cats under 10 lbs or 12 treats per day for larger cats.

When first introducing Greenies, give your cat the treats separately from meals. Monitor to ensure proper chewing and that the treats do not cause vomiting or diarrhea. Adjust serving sizes down if any issues occur. Discontinue use if your cat has difficulty digesting the treats.

For any concerns, consult your veterinarian for proper dosage recommendations tailored to your cat’s specific health needs.

The Bottom Line

Based on the research, Greenies dental treats seem to provide some benefits for cats in terms of reducing plaque and tartar buildup, but they also come with some potential risks. The ingredients in Greenies are designed to be tough enough to scrape plaque off teeth as the cat chews, but some ingredients like wheat gluten and glycerin aren’t ideal. There’s also a small risk of choking or intestinal blockage if the treat is swallowed whole instead of thoroughly chewed. Most veterinarians recommend Greenies in moderation along with regular dental cleanings and checkups. Owners report mixed results, with some seeing cleaner teeth and better breath, while others notice no difference. It’s important to watch your cat while they eat Greenies to be sure they are chewing thoroughly. There are also some alternative dental treats with more natural ingredients, though their plaque-reducing abilities may not be as strong. Overall, occasional Greenies as part of a dental regimen seem reasonably safe for most cats, but shouldn’t replace professional cleanings.


There are numerous sources that can help pet owners determine whether Greenies are a good option for their cat. Here are some of the references used in researching this article:

• The American Veterinary Medical Association provides guidance on selecting pet treats and chews. Their recommendations are based on extensive veterinary expertise.

• Scientific studies have analyzed the effects of Greenie ingredients and dental chews on oral health in dogs and cats. These provide evidence on potential benefits.

• Consumer reviews on sites like Chewy and Amazon give insights into real-world experiences with Greenies cat treats. Thousands of cat owners have provided feedback.

• Pet food rating sites like Dog Food Advisor do in-depth ingredient analyses. This helps determine the quality and safety of products like Greenies.

• Veterinary information sites like PetMD and VCA Hospitals provide general guidance on oral health care for cats.

• The FDA provides reports on any investigations or recalls related to products like Greenies. Their databases offer important health and safety insights.

• Cat dental chew alternatives are compared by looking at reviews, ratings, ingredients, and dental claims on retail sites.

This range of sources provides a well-rounded, thoroughly researched perspective on the risks and benefits of Greenies treats for cats.

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