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.

Leave a Comment

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Walker February 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I too have lost two pets who were on Beneful. I would be interest to know what has changed in the past 7 months with Beneful. My two had been on Beneful for many years and actually got so over weight we had to cut back the amount we were feeding to 1/2 of what we started with. They both slimed down and looked amazing for over a year. Then diseaster hit increased weight loss, vomiting, infections, increase in water drinking, sleeping all the time, no enrgy, siezures and death. The morning my Weimaraner past away a friend at work asked me how she was doing. I told her she was gone. She asked what are you feeding, she told me about the problems with Beneful. I started doing some checking. I think from the behavior of my dogs that some thing has chagned and they are not able to digest the food. They starved to death right in front of me and I was not smart enough to see it. The weimer was steeling food off the counter, in the trash things she had never done before. She even learned to open the container the dog food was in and help her self. That same day my Boston Terrier got sick and through up her breakfast. She ate at 6 am got sick at 8:30pm, she had been give a handful of Beneful along with her soft food. The Beneful was undigested after being in her for 14 hours. That is not normal. Then I remember the Boxer and the Weimaraner vomiting undigested food.
I have spoken to many others feeding Beneful noticing the same issues.
I hope Beneful looks at what they changed in the last 6-7 months that is causing the food to be undigested.
Beneful made my dogs fat and happy for many years and a change in the last 6-7 months along with my stupidity killed my beloved trusting, loving pets. Made me a murder of my babies.
Please help me save others form the pain I have been going through for the past several months and no telling how much longer.


admin February 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Bob, I’m so sorry for your loss. Unless you had autopsies performed, there’s no way to be certain what killed your beloved pets. But yours is not the only story I’ve heard with similar complaints and results. Please click on the ABOUT button at the top of my site and read what dogs should – and should not – have in their food. If you can pretty much stick to that formula when you shop – read the ingredients label – you should be able to choose a healthy dog food. I don’t know if there have been any changes in Beneful’s formula or ingredients recently but the problems have been going on for a long time. I welcome any other reports about problems with dog food and will share them with readers.



Bob Walker February 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm

With my 5 dogs a Boxer, Weimaraner and three Terriers, looking back the two big dogs were fed Beneful the Terriers were fed a soft food with just a small amount of Beneful. The big dogs lost wieght, got sick and died, the Terriers stayed fat and health execpt for throwing up undigested Beneful from time to time.



admin February 1, 2013 at 1:20 pm

That history would certainly get my attention. We need to publicize the horrible events that occur and pray that pet food manufacturers will work harder to improve their products.


Tina February 20, 2013 at 7:21 pm

My dog started voting for 2 days and we didnt know why. Also My daughters dog is loseing her hair. I have change her food . Will not be giving her any more Beneful.


Marino396 June 27, 2013 at 7:23 am

My condolenses Bob, I can tell you that my 11 year old Akita got switched to beneful thinking it was good for her, my other two Akitas did not get switched over. Guess who died in 3 months? yes my dear Chillie is at the rainbow bridge and I dont hesitate to tell anybody in the dog food isle what happened. Some dont believe me and I tell them to look at this and other sites and make up their own mind. Please stay away from this Baneful Beneful.


Helen christensen February 20, 2014 at 10:32 am

I started reading the complaint sight while waiting in the vets for the results of my dogs Sadie’s test results. When the vet came in she preceded to ask if she could have drank antifreeze , than I showed her the first comment on the beneful complaint sight her only answer was that she considered that to be junk food. The test look more like she has cancer and her spleen is enlarged. Well I continued to read she has the same symptoms as many of the other dogs. My older dog has been sick for 3 months but she is 15 so we just thought she was at the end of her life because she stopped eating we slowly been feeding her human food she has progressively gotten better. She may have saved Sadie she blocked her from eating her food.


Carol North February 20, 2014 at 11:01 am

I’m so glad you found the possible reason for your dogs’ illnesses. While I realize that some animals can eat anything and it doesn’t seem to affect them, that isn’t always the case. Best of luck to you and your pets!


Helen christensen February 20, 2014 at 10:40 am

My 4 year old has always had a stomach problem I have always fed her beneful. Interesting I was told that my white blood count was so high the doctor ask if I was exposed to a poison, but hoping I was just fighting an infection and not cancer . I was given antibiotics. I have been handling this for the last 4 years twice a day. Now makes me wonder!! Puzzled


Carol North February 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

Helen, I certainly have no idea about your own health problems but when in doubt….Find a healthier food for your pet and be sure to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling any pet food, treats, toys, food dishes, etc. Best of luck to you.


Mylene February 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm

OH MY*^#!! Our chihuahua mix has been eating beneful for years and has become extremely ill the past 2 months. She also is ‘malnourished’, loosing hair, diarrhea … We took her to Vet & they suspect Beneful as well. My husband just thinks they want us to buy their expensive food – but I am starting to see they are DEAD right!
I bought a bag from vet . It has been 24 hrs and she isn’t improving much. Her blood work, UA are ok – low protein . They have her on some meds. I am so glad I came across this article !!
HOW DARE Nestle make such a product with such a name !!! This should be illegal!!!


Carol North February 25, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Mylene, what food did your vet put your dog on? I would be interested to know that.

I’m so glad you are trying something new. There are just too many reported cases of problems with Beneful! If the new food doesn’t solve your pet’s problem, I suggest you look carefully at the ingredients and try a grain-free option that you can purchase at most discount stores. Check the BARKS & MEOWS page at the top of this website for good and bad ingredients.

Best of luck and please keep us posted about your dog’s progress.


Kim July 17, 2014 at 4:20 pm

my dogs have been fed beneiful for 9 years and there is nothing wrong with them…. I have 4 dogs 2 are poodle/ dachshund and 1 dachshund and 1 poodle


Carol North July 17, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Kim, I’m glad your dogs have had no problem with the food. I’m sure there are many others who would say the same. Otherwise, the company could not continue to produce it. But many animals have not done well on this food and we provide information for everyone.


B. Russell August 16, 2014 at 6:36 pm

I had a beloved Lalso Apso who was 12 in 2012. We had been feeding her the Beneful stew in the tub that she seemed to loved and she did not seem to have any problems until the very end…except I did notice that she seemed to be so tired and not feeling well and just chalked it up to “old age.” That weekend she threw up her food twice…and soon started blooding…she was having acute pancreatise attack …the food had done damage to her organs. We drove her to an expensive vet who charged 2,000 dollars for tests and took to long to do anything. She died that same night. From all the tests they knew what the problem was. We found out later that there had been several cases that the vet knew of that the Beneful dog food had caused acute pancreatic attacks from damaged pancreas. I would love to see them and all the other dog food companies go out of business who are poisoning our pets/families.
Looks like my vet could have posted the news on the board or told me about the bad Beneful! Now am feeding the 2 rescue dogs we have
“Blue” we get from Petsmart. It is supposed to be high quality food. My Annie went over the Rainbow bridge but now is with Jesus.
I am grateful for sites like this, where people can share and get info that even the vets won’t tell you.


Carol North August 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm

I am so sorry for the loss of your dog. I urge you to also read my article on this site that reviews one of the Blue foods, since you are now feeding it to your other dogs. Helping readers to make good choices in pet food is what this website is all about and I pray we can make a difference.


Gail Kosmalski February 25, 2015 at 9:07 pm

We have been feeding our dog Sadie baneful for a few years now but the last 6 months or so she has been losing weight and not being her happy jumping around self. The only food we give her is baneful and we have noticed her drinking a lot of water and she has had peeing accidents which she has never done. Who do we contact to get Purina to pay for our vet bills we are taking her tomorrow to be checked out and does anyone know if the beneful is being sold in Tampabay Florida? We purchased most of the bags at Winn Dixie. If there is an attorney to contact in my area please let me know. This dog is like one of our children she is a great dog. It makes me ill to think my dog is being killed by food we are giving her and they have the nerve to have the Westminster Winner advertising this food.

God Bless


Carol North February 25, 2015 at 9:46 pm

Gail, I’m sorry your dog has suffered health problems. Perhaps you have seen the news reports about the class action lawsuit against Beneful. If not, I suggest you call your local television stations for more information or Google it. Talk to your vet first before contacting Purina. I can promise you they won’t do anything. But if your vet agrees with you that the food may have been the reason your dog is ill, then you should contact the FDA – Food & Drug Administration. They have a division that deals only with such complaints. Perhaps your vet will have the contact information you need. I do not know any attorneys specializing in such cases but I would think once your vet has confirmed the situation that it won’t be difficult to find one willing to take the case. Again, talk to the experts first before pursuing legal action. Perhaps you can find someone to contact related to the class action lawsuit in progress and they could give you better legal advice or direction. It is possible that you could still join the class action lawsuit in progress. Please report back and give us updates on your situation.



Bob February 25, 2015 at 10:39 pm

Change your dogs food now. See what a difference it makes! Don’t do like me and let your dog die. I lost my tow big dogs. Thing is the little ones did not eat Beneful and they are just fine. Stop feeding Benefield and watch your dog go back to normal or continue and watch them die a horrible death.


Carol North February 25, 2015 at 11:14 pm

Bob, I’m sure Gail has stopped feeding Beneful since she suspects it to be the cause of her dog’s problems. I urge any pet owner to seek immediate veterinary care if your pets shows signs of illness that you cannot accurately diagnose. Don’t wait around more than 24 hours to see what happens. Anytime you suspect a food is harming your dog or cat, stop feeding that food and talk to the vet. In the meantime, give your pet a diet of cooked chicken and rice – something very bland – until you know what is going on.


Debra Schultz February 26, 2015 at 3:08 pm

please let me know if there are any signs I should look for if my dog starts getting sick?


Carol North February 26, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Debra, I would think the common signs would be nausea, vomiting, not eating, weight loss and diarrhea. Anything like this that lasts more than 24 hours should be investigated by a licensed veterinarian. But if your dog is now eating Beneful, please switch to a healthier option. There are many good pet foods on the market.



Ken Gross March 5, 2015 at 3:10 pm

I have been feeding ‘Healthy Weight’ to my last dog and current dog for the past 9 years. I mix it with rice and ground (cooked) turkey. I buy it because, on comparing labels, it has the most protein, the most fiber and the least fat of all the other brands of dry food on the store shelf. I believe the ingredients label is comparable to the other brands. My dogs are pedigreed and I would not feed them anything that was proven to be unhealthy. So what would be your alternative?


Carol North March 5, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Ken, thanks for your comment. First of all, I always suggest that pet owners get advice from their veterinarians before making any changes. I will say that this variety of Beneful contains some really bad ingredients. I’ll post a review of this food over the weekend, so that everyone can see it. Go to the BARKS & MEOWS page at the top of this website and you’ll find exactly what should and should not be in your dog’s food. Remember that placement of an ingredient on the list tells you how much of it is actually in the food. If the ingredient is #1 on the list, it should be a good quality meat. In fact, 2 meats at the beginning are wonderful. There are many pet foods on the market with healthy ingredients, though not all are as cheap as Beneful. I don’t have a package of the product on hand so I cannot measure the amounts of various ingredients in it. The review will explain exactly how bad each ingredient really is. I always hesitate to recommend that pet owners change their dog’s food if the animal has been doing well on it. But given the current lawsuit and numbers of illnesses and deaths to pets eating Beneful, I will say that if I were in your shoes, I’d change as quickly as possible. Print out a copy of the chart on the BARKS & MEOWS page to take with you when you shop. In the same general price range (I don’t know exact prices of any of these foods.) I would look at Walmart at Pure Balance. It’s not a great food but it’s not bad. I would look at Rachel Ray’s dog foods. If you can afford to buy better foods, I would suggest you look at Natural Balance or Fromm’s or Wellness. My personal favorites include those brands, as well as Hardy Balance and Petbrosia, both sold online. Compare the ingredients, including where they sit on the list. The first ingredients carry the most weight in the food.

As for weight control, I feed a senior dog food to my aging Weimaraner and I use green beans to keep his weight down. If you notice your dog putting on a few pounds, cut back his dog food amount at each meal and add canned green beans to it. My dogs love it and their weight stays stable on it. Or ask your vet for his or her recommendations for weight control. One caution: Veterinarians tend to recommend foods they sell. Those foods often include Science Diet products. I do NOT recommend those. Read my reviews category.

Look for my review of this Beneful food posted tomorrow or Saturday. Then go shopping for an acceptable alternative.



Barbara March 12, 2015 at 8:40 pm

PLEASE, I need to print out the above as soon as possible to show my mother (98 yrs old THAT BENEFUL IS KILLING HER DOG.
He has had the runs for months,is sluggish and developing sores, yet she refuses to believe me that she is killing her dog If I can show he the above I HOPE TO STOP HER from feeding this to her animal. My sheltie lived past 16 years because I only feed her natural, healthy foods. Had she not had cancer which was undetected till too late she probably would still be here. I want to save this dog with your help. Thank you,


Carol North March 12, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Barbara, has your Mother’s dog been seen by a veterinarian? That should be done to rule out some other problem. I certainly agree that this food could be a problem and I hope she will listen to you. But do be sure a vet has weighed in on the dog’s issues. Good luck. Carol


Jane Birkenstock April 30, 2015 at 1:24 am

I cannot access the comments. The link does not work.


jn0rth April 30, 2015 at 5:31 pm

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