Review: Is Beneful® Bad for Dogs?

August 31, 2012

Recently, I received an email about a large number of complaints to about Beneful® dog food causing serious illnesses in animals.  The Consumer Affairs site displayed quite a few complaints from dog owners saying that the food negatively affected both large and small dogs.  Some animals were becoming progressively more ill and when the owners ceased feeding Beneful® to their pets, the dogs recovered quickly.  Other dogs suffered vomiting, seizures and major skin problems.  Still others died, leaving their owners wondering if the dog food was the culprit.

Of all the complaints and reviews received about this product, the Consumer Affairs site showed that 82% gave the dog food 1 star out of 5 possible.  Only 1% of respondents gave it 5 stars.

With those depressing reports, I decided to look closely at this dog food produced by Nestle Purina Pet Care Co.

The website is colorful and full of praise for the product, as one would expect.  The food comes in several varieties – for both puppies and adult dogs.

Let’s look first at Beneful® Healthy Weight.  The description on the website says that this food provides “calorie-smart nutrition that helps keep your dog happy and healthy – with 10% fewer calories than Beneful® Original.  It’s made with wholesome rice, real chicken and soy, and accented with vitamin-rich vegetables.”

The flowery words continue with all the good stuff the product contains to benefit a dog.  Here is the actual list of ingredients taken from the Beneful® Dog Food Healthy Weight web page:

Click on the list to enlarge

Notice the first four ingredients.  Not one pure meat is listed!  The item carrying the most weight is ground yellow corn – a cheap protein source.  Next up is chicken by-product meal.  By-products in any form are not recommended for pets.  They are the leftovers from the rendering process and there’s no way to know what is actually included in by-products.  If it says “chicken byproduct meal,”  it might include feet, neck, feathers – the parts of a chicken with the lowest percentage of protein and least nutrition.

Then we see another corn product, followed by soybean hulls.  Soy is difficult for dogs to digest in any form.  The manufacturer says the soybean hulls are a source of fiber but because of its place high up on the list, we know there is too much of it to be a good choice.

After a couple of starches, we finally see an actual meat listed.  But this far down on the list, there just can’t be enough of it to make up for the other lesser quality protein sources.

Following the chicken is another soy product and then animal fat.  This is another product of the rendering process.  Animal fat – or tallow – is what’s left over after the contents of the vat are rendered.  This vat could have contained good meat or spoiled meat, restaurant grease, even packaging materials that weren’t separated before being thrown into the vat.

Meat and bone meal have no place in healthy pet food.  Propylene glycol is a chemical preservative suspected to be a carcinogen.  This is followed on the list by sugar – an unnecessary and useless ingredient – and animal digest.  Animal digest is much like it sounds – the digestive parts of an animal.

There are some good items like carrots and green beans but then they resort to artificial colorings.  Examination of ingredients in some of the other Beneful® products shows similar inclusions of less than healthy ingredients.

All in all, this is a questionable food.  It’s missing a high-quality meat in the first four ingredients.  It uses corn as a substitute protein source.  Many animals react badly to corn in any form.  With such a poor beginning, followed by chemicals and other items a dog shouldn’t be eating, I’m not surprised at the complaints received by Consumer Affairs.  I recommend you think twice before feeding Beneful® to your dog.

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