Greenies are popular with adult dogs, but many owners want to know if they are safe for their puppies too. We reached out to Dr. Linda Simon to answer this question in detail. Everything you need to know about your puppy eating greenies is below.
Greenies are not recommended for puppies under six months of age. Puppies under six months may still have their deciduous teeth making these chews appropriate. Greenies say that this guideline should not be ignored.
Puppies over the age of 6 months can have Greenies. There are different Greenies made specifically for puppies and dogs of different ages. It’s always advised to follow the guidance on the Greenies packaging.
What Are Greenies?
Characteristically green in color, Greenies are dental treats that offers a range of benefits for your dog. And they are even in the shape of a little toothbrush: how adorable! While your dog may not notice this, we think it is a neat little touch.
The Greenies range includes a choice of different flavors, such as blueberry and mint. And thankfully there are Greenies that are tailored for puppies (although only 6 months plus).
Manufacturers recommend they are fed once daily.
The thing most owners like about Greenies is that their dog genuinely likes the taste. Though good for them, the pet still views them as a real treat. This ensures they can be used as a reward for training if required. Unlike tooth brushing, you won’t have to spend any time or effort convincing your dog to partake!
The Greenies brand also makes cat treats and pill pockets, but these are not the focus of today’s article.
Are Greenies Safe For Puppies?
Importantly, Greenies are not recommended for those under six months of age. Those under six months will still have their deciduous teeth, and these chews will not be appropriate. Greenies emphasize that this guideline should not be ignored.
Puppies over the age of six months can be started on “Greenies Puppy” under supervision.
As Greenies are easy to digest and made with highly soluble ingredients, puppies over six months of age should be able to tolerate them well. These puppy treats are supplemented with DHA, which is essential for brain development.
Any chew or hard treat carries an inherent risk. If not chewed properly before being swallowed, the chew could lodge in the food pipe, stomach, or small intestine. However, as this treat is so easily digested, this doesn’t tend to cause long-term issues.
Can Greenies Make Puppies Sick?
Not all, but most puppies will get along with Greenies just fine due to the fact they are made with easily-digestible ingredients. However, there will always be exceptions, and some puppies may be intolerant to certain ingredients.
On the whole, though, Greenies are not known to make puppies sick, but it can certainly happen with those that are extra sensitive.
This is why it’s always recommended to feed test amounts first when introducing a new treat or dental chew. Provide a tiny chunk, watch for any ill reactions over the next 30 minutes or so.
In addition to Greenies Puppy, there are Greenies Teenies, which are tailored towards younger and/or smaller dogs. These treats are designed to be softer, which reduces the risk of immature teeth fracturing and are easier to eat. If you have a small breed puppy, these are the treats they should progress to once an adult.
Do Greenies Work?
Thanks to the shape and texture of this chew, plaque levels are controlled, resulting in less tartar and calculus build-up in the dog’s mouth.
In fact, Greenies claim 60% less tartar build-up and 32% less plaque. This will inevitably mean a lower incidence of gingivitis, bad breath, and periodontal disease.
Rather than breaking or shattering after being bitten, these treats bend. They slide along the tooth down to the gum, removing films of bacteria (plaque) and calculus. This is a similar scraping mechanism that we see with tooth brushing. Keeping plaque levels low is the key to good oral hygiene and minimizing dental disease as a dog ages.
In 1997, the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) made a list of approved dental products that they advised owners can give their pets. And Greenies made the cut!
All pet food manufacturers on the approved list have the seal of approval and are backed up by science. More information can be found here: www.vohc.org.
Related article: Can puppies have coconut? Is it safe or unsafe?
What Else Should I Know About Greenies?
Remember that Greenies are not calorie-free. If your dog needs to shed some pounds, don’t forget to include Greenies in their daily calorie calculation.
Each treat contains 26 calories. For a small dog such as a 3kg Chihuahua who only needs about 260 calories a day, one treat will make up a whopping 10% of the dog’s daily caloric intake.
As treats should not make up more than 10% of a dog’s diet, most little dogs should only have one Greenie a day and no other treats whatsoever.
Greenies are not suitable for every dog. As most contain ingredients such as wheat, dogs with certain allergies or grain sensitivities may not tolerate them well. It is advised that you monitor closely for signs such as diarrhea, vomiting, or itchy skin after Greenies are introduced to the diet. Owners should be aware that Greenies have more recently introduced a grain-free option.
Some dogs who don’t chew successfully and can gulp down their foods may be at risk of the Greenie lodging in their food pipe or stomach. This is rare though.
With between 5.5-8% fat (or up to 9.5% fat on a dry matter basis), these treats are low in fat but may be too fatty for those with medical issues such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Lympangectasi, and Chronic Pancreatitis. Discuss with your pet’s vet if they are a suitable option for your dog if they have a diagnosed medical issue.
Recommended read: Can you use dawn dish soap on puppies?
Do Vets Recommend Greenies?
Greenies are indeed a vet-recommended product. Compared to other treats on the market, they tend to be healthier and better for teeth.
They are relatively low in fat while being high in protein and fiber. They are also supplemented with key nutrients like omega fatty acids and calcium: what’s not to love?
As vets, we know more than the average person just how much a dog’s dental hygiene can affect their whole life. Dental disease can cause chronic pain, a reduced appetite, and weight loss. Oral infections and abscesses can seed bacteria around the body, potentially causing significant illness, including liver and heart infections.
Sadly, dental disease is widespread among our canine population. For vets, any treats that can reduce its incidence is a real game-changer.
Alternative Ways To Keep a Puppy’s Dental Hygeine In Check
Remember, Greenies and similar treats and chews are only one small part of maintaining good oral hygiene in your young dog.
Additional measures should include:
- Daily tooth brushing. While puppies do not have all of their adult teeth until about six months of age, it is sensible to get them used to tooth brushing even before this. However, try not to introduce the tooth brush when they are actively teething as this could create an aversion. Keep initial tooth brushing sessions short and sweet and it can be a great idea to reward your pup with a game of fetch or frisbee after, so they know that you appreciated their cooperation. Toothbrushing is, by far, the best thing we can do to keep out pup’s gnashers in tip top shape.
- Feeding a dry food (kibble diet). While many dogs will inherently prefer canned or soft food, it can cake on teeth and lead to dental decay. For many pups, dry food is a better option and it is undeniable better for the reduction of plaque and calculus. If you have a fussy pup on your hand, consider mixing a small portion of canned food with the kibble to make it more palatable.
- The use of plaque reducing products. Puppy safe liquid tartar removers that are added to the water bowl, or bacteria reducing powders that go on top of meals, are a good idea. Dental rinses will also work well for some.
- Avoid inappropriate treats such as bones which can fracture teeth. This is especially true in small breeds whose mouths are overcrowded and in older dogs with pre-existing dental disease.
- Ensure your dog has regular dental cleanings as advised by your vet. Most dogs need at least one or two dental cleanings under general anesthetic during their lifetime. This allows the vet an opportunity to remove calculus that has built up over time. Teeth are scaled and polished and then thoroughly assessed. Vets can probe teeth, ensuring there is no pocketing between tooth and gum. Any rotten teeth will be extracted, preventing them from becoming a cause of chronic pain and a nidus of infection. A full oral exam can detect hidden issues such as broken teeth, oral ulcers, abscesses and oral masses. Where needed, dental x-rays may be advised too.
The Take Home Message
Greenies have become so successful over the years because they deliver on their promises and dogs love their taste. Vets are happy to endorse these chews as they help to maintain good oral hygiene. Remember not to rely only on Greenies when it comes to preventing dental disease as they are just one of the available tools.
While your dog may try to convince you otherwise, don’t go overboard on the Dreamies. They contain a relatively significant amount of fat, carbohydrates and calories so it is important to keep track of how many we are giving.