NUTRO Products, Inc. says it is pulling its Greenies line of pet dental chews from supermarkets and other mass markets. Beginning in June, the Greenies -- which have been blamed for illness and deaths in some dogs and cats -- will be distributed only through veterinary hospitals and pet specialty retailers.
It's the latest attempt to resolve highly-publicized incidents of pet deaths attributed to the popular treats. Pet owners said the treats failed to be properly digested and led to fatal intestinal obstructions.
This is a voluntary move on the part of the manufacturer. The company has pulled their product from the shelves of supermarket and mass merchandise-type stores, but will continue to supply pet stores and veterinary offices.
The company didn’t make the reasons behind their move very clear, but did offer this explanation:
“We believe that pet medical professionals at veterinary hospitals and well-trained, knowledgeable staff at pet specialty stores are best equipped to answer pet owners’ questions about our products and to make the right recommendation,” said Carolyn Hanigan, vice president of marketing for Nashville, Tenn.-based NUTRO.
It seems NUTRO is saying their green dental chews should only be sold to pet owners who have received training in how to use them.
A dental bone that comes with expert instruction? Why?
Investigation Exposes Pet Injuries and Deaths from Green Dental Chews
In 2006, the Cable News Network (CNN) investigated consumer complaints about the product and uncovered 40 cases over a three year period in which veterinarians extracted Greenies from dogs.
In all 40 cases, the chews had become lodged in either the esophagus or the intestine. Tragically, 13 of those dogs could not be saved.
The fact is, NUTRO has been trying to fix problems with their product for years -- first in 2006 by clarifying package instructions, followed in 2007 by a reformulation which was supposed to make the chews easier to digest, particularly for dogs.
And now in 2009, they have decided to sell Greenies only through veterinary clinics and specialty retail outlets where instructions will (hopefully) be handed out to pet owners.
As a veterinarian, I have not and will not recommend these dental chews for your pet.
Picking the Right Dental Bone for Your Dog Isn’t as Easy as You Might Think
The design of many popular chew bones makes them very difficult for your pet to break down. Your dog is apt to swallow the entire chew -- or a big chunk of it -- whole.
This undigested mass can lodge in your pet’s digestive tract, blocking it, and require expensive, risky surgery to remove. The other problem with traditional dog chew bones is they are just not healthy for your pet. Many come from China and contain unknown ingredients. They can also contain:
Gelatin, which can be toxic
Hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, an artificial sweetener
Soy protein isolate, a known allergen and potentially cancer-causing
Propyl gallate, a preservative which is also potentially carcinogenic
Are Dog Dental Bones Really Necessary?
Yes, absolutely! Pets are designed to chew!
Feral cats and dogs, while often faced with other health issues, naturally have beautiful teeth and healthy gums. This is because the food they eat in the wild (think mice and other rodents) requires a lot of chewing, and the sinewy composition of the prey helps to clean each entire tooth.
This natural way of maintaining good dental hygiene is what you want to reproduce for your companion animals.
A fully digestible, high quality dental dog chew provides mechanical abrasion to help control plaque and tartar, and is similar to the effect of eating whole, raw food in the wild.
Plaque is the sticky stuff that collects on teeth (yours and your pet’s). It’s a combination of bits of food, minerals from saliva, and bacteria.
Left on teeth, plaque hardens, turns brown, and becomes tartar. If enough tartar collects in your dog’s mouth, it will end up under the gums as a breeding ground for infection. Over time, your pet’s teeth will become painful, loosen, and eventually fall out.
The time to arrest the whole process is at the plaque stage. When you prevent plaque from turning into tartar, you prevent most dental problems in your pet.
How to Choose a Good Dental Bone for Your Dog
Make sure to read the ingredient panel on any product before you make a purchase.
A high-quality dental dog bone will NOT contain:
Wheat, gluten, soy or corn
Saturated fat or trans fat
Added sugar or salt
Animal byproducts (gelatin, animal glycerin)
Artificial flavors or colors
Even the “green” brand of dental chew contains unhealthy fillers and additives. When you factor in their potential to lodge in your dog’s digestive tract and cause an obstruction, I would strongly advise against them.
What you want is a tasty, all natural and completely digestible dental chew for your four-legged companion.
I highly recommend Mercola Healthy Pets Dog Dental Bones. They are 100% natural, and contain absolutely NO:
Extra fat or sugar
This is the brand of dental bone I recommend to all my canine patients, and sell at my hospital.
A high-quality dental chew like Mercola’s Dental Bones for Dogs, a balanced, raw food diet, along with daily brushing and a professional cleaning by your vet as needed, will insure the long-term health of your pet’s teeth and gums.