Do Greenies Make Cats Sick?

Greenies are dental treats for cats and dogs that are designed to help clean teeth and freshen breath. They have a unique texture and shape that is meant to clean hard-to-reach places on teeth as pets chew on them.[1] Greenies come in a variety of flavors and formulations for both cats and dogs. The feline Greenies line includes treats for dental health, hairball control, skin and coat health, senior cats, and kittens.

Greenies have been a popular treat choice for pet owners for many years. However, there has been some controversy around potential risks and side effects, especially for cats. There have been isolated reports of cats becoming sick or dying after eating Greenies treats.[2] These cases have sparked worries that Greenies may pose a choking hazard or cause digestive issues in some cats. While Greenies states its treats are safe, some cat owners remain cautious about feeding Greenies. There is debate around the risks and benefits of Greenies feline dental treats.



Ingredients in Greenies

Greenies dental treats for cats and dogs are made with a variety of ingredients, including:

  • Wheat gluten – The main protein source that gives Greenies their texture.
  • Glycerin – A humectant to help keep the treats moist.
  • Gelatin – Used as a gelling agent.
  • Soybean oil – Added for palatability.
  • Flavors – Both natural and artificial flavorings.
  • Calcium carbonate – Provides calcium.
  • Choline chloride – An essential vitamin.

Some controversial ingredients include:

  • Propylene glycol – A petroleum-based humectant that some view as a potential toxin at high doses.
  • Artificial colors – Dyes like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 2 are added for appearance but have been linked to allergies and behavior issues in some pets.

Overall, experts tend to agree the ingredients in Greenies are safe in the quantities used. But owners should supervise their pets and monitor for any signs of an allergic reaction.

Benefits of Greenies

One of the main benefits touted by Greenies is that the treats help clean cats’ teeth and control tartar buildup. The unique texture and shape of the treats are designed to appeal to cats’ natural chewing instinct. According to the Greenies website, “The unique texture of GREENIES Dental Treats helps fight plaque and tartar. These delicious, daily cat treats are made with natural ingredients for healthy teeth and fresh breath” ( The crunchy texture and abrasive surfaces of the treats scrape away plaque and tartar as the cat chews. By satisfying cats’ chewing urge in a productive way, Greenies claims the dental treats reduce tartar buildup by up to 60%.

Greenies states that the treats contain natural ingredients and are formulated to be digestible. The Greenies website says the treats are made with natural ingredients for healthy teeth and fresh breath. The primary ingredients are wheat protein, glycerin, gelatin, oat fiber, water, lecithin, and natural poultry flavor. The treats are designed to be easily digestible and pass safely through the digestive tract.

Risks and Concerns

Some pet owners have concerns about potential risks associated with giving Greenies to cats. Here are two of the main risks to be aware of:

Choking Hazard

One risk cited is the potential choking hazard if the treat is too large for the cat. According to, “Greenies recommends cats weighing 5-15 lbs eat 1 dental treat per day, but anything larger could present a choking hazard.”1 It’s important to follow package instructions and size recommendations when feeding Greenies to cats.

Allergies or GI Upset

Some cats may experience allergic reactions or gastrointestinal upset after eating Greenies, which contain wheat gluten and other ingredients. According to, “Some of the symptoms of allergies include itchiness, hair loss, rashes, vomiting, and diarrhea.”2 As with any new treat, it’s advisable to introduce Greenies gradually to monitor your cat’s tolerance.

Cases of Illness

There are some concerning reports of Greenies dental treats causing illness or even death in cats. One alarming case comes from a Reddit user who claims Greenies threw their cat into acute kidney failure that nearly killed him (Source). While anecdotal, this report does raise questions about the safety of Greenies for feline kidney health.

According to pet website Two Crazy Cat Ladies, there have been documented cases of Greenies causing death in cats and dogs (Source). They do not provide specifics on the cat cases, but it’s concerning nonetheless. More research into any available reports, documentation or data on Greenies-linked illness and death in cats would help shed light on true risks.

Overall, there are some alarming but limited reports of Greenies harming cat health. More investigation into specific cases, their causes, and prevalence would help prove or disprove this potential risk.

Veterinarian Perspectives

Many veterinarians recommend Greenies in moderation as part of a dental care regimen for cats. Dr. Jean Hofve, holistic veterinarian, advises “Greenies should only be fed occasionally, not daily. One or two a week is plenty.” She cautions against feeding Greenies to cats who gulp their food or have sensitive digestive systems.

According to Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinary health expert, “When used as directed, Greenies are very safe for most cats. However, there are a few things you need to look out for. Make sure to follow feeding guidelines strictly. The treat should make up no more than 5-10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake.” He advises monitoring cats when giving Greenies to ensure proper chewing and digestion.

Dr. Heidi Lobprise, DVM with CVS, states “We recommend Greenies dental treats as part of a complete at-home dental care routine for cats. They’re an abrasive treat that scrubs the teeth. We advise cat owners follow the feeding guidelines and monitor their pet while eating any treat or food.” She cautions that with any chew or treat, there is a choking risk if not chewed properly.

Most vets agree moderation, close monitoring, and proper dental hygiene remain key when feeding Greenies or any dental treat to cats. Always follow label instructions carefully.

Alternatives to Greenies

While Greenies are a popular dental treat for cats, there are other options pet owners can consider to promote good dental health for their feline companions.

Some other veterinarian-recommended dental treats include Dentalife and Whiskas Dentabites. These treats are designed to scrape away plaque and tartar as cats chew on them. The rough texture and shape help clean teeth and massage gums. These dental treats come in various flavors, like tuna and chicken, that appeal to feline taste buds.

In addition to treats, brushing your cat’s teeth is highly recommended by vets for optimal dental health. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste, gently brushing your cat’s teeth about 2-3 times per week can significantly reduce plaque buildup. It’s best to start dental hygiene habits like brushing from kittenhood so cats get accustomed to the routine.

There are also dental wipes, gels, and water additives available to make home dental care easier for cats and owners. These products help prevent tartar buildup when used regularly. Always check with your veterinarian first before using any dental hygiene product to make sure it’s suitable and safe for your cat.

Providing cats with raw bones to chew on is another natural way to help scrape away plaque. Raw chicken wings or chicken necks are ideal options. The chewing action cleans teeth and satisfies cats’ instincts to gnaw on raw meat and bones.

A combination of dental treats, chews, toothbrushing, and professional cleanings from your vet are the best ways to keep your cat’s teeth clean and avoid periodontal disease. With some effort from owners and the right products, cats can maintain excellent dental health without the need for Greenies treats.

Greenies Safety Guidelines

When feeding Greenies dental treats to cats, it’s important to follow the dosage guidelines based on your cat’s weight for safety.

According to the Greenies website, here are the recommended feeding guidelines per day based on weight:

  • 5 to 10 lbs: 6-8 pieces per serving
  • 10 to 15 lbs: 8-10 pieces per serving
  • Over 15 lbs: 10-12 pieces per serving

Greenies states that one serving equals one dental treat. So a 10 lb cat should receive 6-8 full dental treats per day, broken up into multiple servings if needed (1).

It’s also important to closely monitor your cat when first introducing Greenies to make sure they are chewing the treats thoroughly before swallowing. Consider breaking treats into smaller pieces if needed. And be sure to follow Greenies’ recommended transition schedule when switching your cat to Greenies dental treats (2).

Following the proper dosage and size guidelines from Greenies can help reduce risks when feeding these dental treats to cats.

The Bottom Line

In summary, Greenies dental treats have both potential benefits and risks for cats. The main benefits are that they can help clean teeth and freshen breath by reducing plaque and tartar buildup. They are designed and approved specifically for dental health in cats. However, there are also some risks and concerns. Cases of intestinal blockages, vomiting, and diarrhea have been reported in association with Greenies, likely due to cats swallowing large pieces whole instead of chewing thoroughly. This risk may be higher in some cats. While many cats can enjoy Greenies safely with proper supervision and guidelines, they may not be the right choice for all cats.

For cat owners considering Greenies treats, here are some tips:

  • Consult your veterinarian, especially if your cat is prone to gastrointestinal issues.
  • Select the size carefully based on your cat’s weight.
  • Supervise your cat while eating to ensure thorough chewing.
  • Limit treats to the feeding guidelines.
  • Watch for any signs of gastrointestinal distress like vomiting or appetite changes.
  • Consider alternative dental treats if concerned. Other options include C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews, Virbac C.E.T. Veggiedent Tartar Control Treats, or Whimzees.

While Greenies have potential benefits for dental health, they may not be suitable for all cats. Pay close attention to your individual cat’s tolerances and reactions. Consult your veterinarian if ever in doubt.


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