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Are Doggy Dental Chews Dangerous?

Doggy Dental Chews - Cane Bay Summerville Recently a Facebook post went viral about a dog that became violently ill and needed immediate veterinary assistance after chewing and ingesting a dental stick for dogs. To many, the aftermath was shocking, as dental chews are made specifically for canines to help maintain dental hygiene.

In light of the recent scare, we wanted to address any confusion that may be surrounding the subject. Are doggy dental chews dangerous, or are they okay for your pet? What about Greenies? Or rawhides? Can Fido chew on those and be okay?

It can be difficult, because some dogs do just fine chewing dental sticks, and others end up severely ill. Below we’ll discuss the safety and concerns of some veterinarians regarding these products.


In 2006, CBS reported that one woman lost her dog after the pooch ingested nearly an entire bag of Greenies and suffered from a gastro-intestinal blockage. Though Twiggy was taken to the vet immediately, she did not survive.

Dr. Brendan McKiernan, a veterinarian at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital, told CBS that he would always refrain from giving Greenies to dogs, as not all dogs are able to digest them. According to the article, multiple people who have lost their pets due to the chew stick have sued the company responsible for Greenies.


Rawhides are another treat that some dogs digest just fine, and others do not. The danger comes in when dogs swallow the rather large, durable object whole without chewing first.

Dr. Patty Khuly, a veterinarian who writes for VetStreet, wrote an entire article on why rawhide, antlers, cooked beans and other chews might not be the safest or best option to give your pet.

DINGO Dental Sticks

These dental sticks lit up a firestorm of controversy after the aforementioned Facebook post from December 29 went viral. Comments came flooding in. Some people said their dogs had been eating these for five years with no issues, and others said many dogs have fallen ill at the hands of these treats.

So what’s the problem? Are they safe or aren’t they? While some dogs seem to do okay with them, others react very poorly to the ingredients. For dogs that are negatively affected after eating these chews, typical symptoms seem to be diarrhea, and in severe cases, organ failure.

What’s the Difference Between a Normal Treat and a Chew Stick?

Dr. McKiernan told CBS he would never feed a dog a Greenie. Why? What’s the difference?

Regular treats disintegrate in water and turn to “mush,” he said. Dental sticks, such as Greenies and others, do not dissolve. Even after soaking one Greenie in water for three days, he said, it maintained its hard, solid form.

Dr. McKiernan further told CBS that “some dogs just can’t digest them.”

In addition, Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, an emergency veterinarian at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital, told CBS that dogs tend to gulp when eating, which can make any chew a danger or health risk for your pet, especially rawhides and other hard chews.

The Takeaway?

Giving your pet a Greenie, Rawhide, Dental Stick or other kind of treat does not necessarily mean he will become violently ill. However, there is that risk. Each dog is different, and as Dr. McKiernan told CBS, not all dogs are capable of digesting them.

Dr. John Huff, board-certified veterinary dentist at Alameda East Animal Hospital, told VetStreet that the best method for maintaining dental hygiene is by brushing your dog’s teeth. If that never occurs, a dental stick may help promote dental health more than doing nothing at all, but the best route to go is with teeth brushing.

If you do decide to give your pet a dental stick or other hard chew, check with your veterinarian first, who has a thorough knowledge of your dog and his or her health.

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