Why is my dog so crazy about greenies?
September 2, 2022 10:45 AM   Subscribe

My normally not especially food-motivated dog is an absolute lunatic for greenies. I feel like she maybe shouldn't get too many. Is there a good substitute?

Based on looking at the ingredients but most certainly not being a vet or food scientist, my guess is that (supposed dental benefits aside) these are basically junk food and that's why she's going so nuts for them. The package says one a day—I'm not sure whether more would make her sick but it does seem like she probably shouldn't have too many. But she has to go chill out in her crate after walks, and it's really nice to have a treat that will make a zoomy, riled-up puppy hop happily into her crate without complaining! I wouldn't say she's indifferent to other treats, but she will ignore most food if there's something else she wants more—like not being in her crate after a walk. She gets way more walks a day than she should have greenies.

I recognize that you don't know my dog personally, but do you know what it is about greenies that dogs respond to, and is there a healthier dupe? Note that I'm not worried about cleaning her teeth specifically, but about finding a treat that she loves enough to get her into the crate and that she can work on for a little while when she's in there.

(She has historically also been a big fan of yak cheese, she enjoys a cheese or jerky treat, and she has some favorite toys we can lure her into the crate with, but none of these get anywhere close to the "I will go anywhere you want just gimme gimme gimme" reaction that greenies get.)
posted by babelfish to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sorry if this is obvious, but for my little guy, who is also greenie-mad but is small and doesn't get a ton of exercise, I break it up into two smaller pieces. That's a Teenie, so you should be able to get maybe four for a regular-size? IME when it's just a matter of a reward rather than long-term occupation, most dogs respond less to the size of the treat than the Getting of the Treat.
posted by praemunire at 11:16 AM on September 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

My chihuahua fuckin loves greenies. The only reason I would maybe hesitate to give your dog more than one a day is that even with the teenie size, his poops tend to take on certain....greenie-like qualities when he has one and I'd worry he might have trouble digesting more than one per day. But you know what? I don't give him greenies anymore, because they did JACK SHIT for his teeth. After almost seven years of him getting a greenie every day, he needed to have nineteen teeth pulled, and now I don't trust him to be able to chew them up enough. Of course, he's a toy breed and they have notoriously bad teeth, but I don't put a lot of stock in their tooth-cleaning properties anymore.
posted by cakelite at 11:25 AM on September 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

Oh, and to answer your main question: I think dogs love greenies because it takes them longer to eat than a standard dog treat.
posted by cakelite at 11:26 AM on September 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

Is there a good substitute?

My dog gets a different brand of dog food in a raspberry as their special evening treat. Chewing on things is good for cleaning plaque off dogs' teeth.
posted by aniola at 11:30 AM on September 2, 2022

I don't know what the flavor is that drives them crazy, but as someone who fosters dozens of dogs a year, it's not just your dog that loves them. I've had quite a few pass up meat based treats in favor of them.
posted by Candleman at 11:38 AM on September 2, 2022

My dog likes all kinds of food but he likewise elevates greenies above all else. They're literally the only treat that works to distract him while we're leaving and keep his separation anxiety at bay. He gets one every time we leave him alone in the house, which sometimes is more than once a day. I've been told they're basically doggie snickers bars, so the way we justify giving him one so often is to buy the "teenie" size, even though at 26ish lbs he's bigger than the suggested weight range, and then (especially if he's getting left more than once that day) we may also break those in half. He's still thrilled.
posted by mosst at 12:06 PM on September 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

My Luce loves greenies. They are definitely the treat of highest regard in our house. They're expensive though, so...
...we give her the teeny ones, like for Yorkies. Luce is a big dog - German shepherd mix - but SHE doesn't know they come in larger sizes. It'd probably blow her mind to find out there are big ones, but we can't afford to keep giant greenies stocked!
...we make her work for them. I think they're particularly aromatic so we'll shut her out of the room and hide a couple for her to find. She LOVES searching for greenies with her big old nose and we make a big cheering deal out of it when she finds one.
So, my vote is to get the little ones and make them into a game. And my thought about why dogs go nuts is because they smell amazing.
posted by Gray Duck at 2:41 PM on September 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

My dog used to love carrots, which seem to have a little teeth-cleaning ability. Your Dog May Vary.
posted by Comet Bug at 5:47 PM on September 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

I have a big dog who also loves them, but he almost never gets them because they upset his stomach. He does get a carrot now and then for his teeth/breath, but that might not work for your dog -- except for citrus fruits and oranges, there is literally nothing my dog won't eat. It's a problem.
posted by mumimor at 2:43 AM on September 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Y'all I had never even thought about breaking up the treat. She'll run into her crate if I even TOUCH the greenies box (she's smart enough to be trouble but not very smart) so getting a smaller one should still do the trick without her getting wise.
posted by babelfish at 8:56 AM on September 3, 2022 [5 favorites]

OK, now where's the puppy tax???
posted by praemunire at 10:18 AM on September 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

My little dude goes bonkers over these Polkadog Alaskan Cod Chips, which are about 8 calories each and are just dehydrated cod. The salmon chips in the same brand are just as enticing. If I so much as touch the bag, my puppy is already running upstairs to the crate for nap/bedtime. I think they're better nutritionally than Greenies, although they are pretty stinky.
posted by twelve cent archie at 11:20 AM on September 3, 2022

I googled greenies because I had never heard of them and now I get ads for them wherever I go.
posted by leaper at 12:34 PM on September 3, 2022

My dogs love Cabbage cores. I take it out and split it in two and they assume it's their meal and they are happy.
posted by andreap at 10:27 AM on September 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

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