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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 7 August 2001 Issue

Green "toothbrush"-shaped dental chews prove deadly

It has taken me since Monday evening to write this message to you. That is the night that our little 17-1/2 year old Chihuahua mix, Peanut, died as Dr. Bell and Dr. Iannone of Evesham Vet Clinic worked valiantly to save her life.  It was a death that never should have happened, and I will forever have to live with knowing that because of what I did NOT know, my wonderful little girl would lose her life.  I only hope that this E-mail will save the life of someone else's precious companion.

Peanut died after having swallowed a chunk of what is known as a "greenie".  They are green "toothbrush"-shaped chews designed to remove tartar from teeth and improve the breath of dogs.  I had hoped that with "greenes" and regular tooth brushing I could avoid the anesthesia risk of dentals for my older small dogs.

How ironic that it would be just the thing I wanted to use to avert danger that would claim Peanut's life.

We have used greenies in the past - they worked well and the kids loved them.   I always gave the dogs a size larger than what I would normally have purchased just to be certain they didn't get off a large piece and choke on it. They have never been allowed to have them unsupervised.  And the night Peanut swallowed the piece, my husband was there with her.  Although she sputtered and struggled, she seemed to have swallowed the section, but the next morning, she didn't seem like herself and didn't want breakfast.

She vomited her am meds, but was drinking fluids. By late morning I decided to phone the vet just as a precaution. I was given an evening appointment, at which time X-rays were taken and it was determined that the greenie was actually lodged in Peanut's esophagus just above the area of her heart.

After hours that evening, Drs. Bell and Iannone stayed on and anesthetized Peanut to use the endoscope to try and remove the greenie or move it down into the stomach where it would be surgically removed. Both options were attempted, with only pieces of the greenie breaking off. It seems that this product had adhered itself to the esophageal walls and as these very experienced vets struggled to free up her sealed passage way, her heart finally just gave out and stopped beating. Dr. Bell said he has never seen anything quite like this.

My baby is gone all because I didn't know of the dangers involved with this product.  When I shared this with my CGC class tonight at WonderDogs, my instructor told me that she has been told by several people in her online group that they have had dogs die the same way after using the popular denta-bones.  Evidentially, these products become somewhat like cement if they get caught in the esophagus.

Please, PLEASE urge everyone you know who has a dog (and anyone you know who SELLS these tremendously popular products) to think twice before using them again. If I had read a message like this prior to Sunday night, I might be watching my little Chihuahua girl still enjoying her evening nap under her favorite blanket rather than sitting at the computer writing this E-mail through tears of incredible grief and guilt. I only hope this saves the life of another animal. In memory of my "Nutty-Buddy", Shellie

source: [email protected]

Return to Animals in Print 7 Aug 2001 Issue

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