I know most of you aren’t feeding your dogs a food like Purina’s Beneful, but this article is for those that simply don’t realize the dangers of budget brand dog foods.

The Beneful story has been going around for some time now, having been linked to deaths and illnesses in countless dogs.  In fact, one of our local news stations ran a story on the possibility of Beneful being linked to dying dogs.

The Story

The first time the story came to light was in February of 2007. At that time, an email circulated that was a “Health Alert” about the dangers of Beneful dog food.

It described multiple reports of “dogs becoming sick or dying after eating Beneful.” The email came from DoggyBling.com and zeroed in on several reports in the forums there.

At that time, the people at DoggyBling.com had spoken to someone at Beneful and said the company was aware of the problem and was looking into it.

Beneful responded in February of 2007 and said their foods were safe. They claimed Purina initiated testing by an independent third party analytical laboratory based on verifying customer product codes (from those who’d claimed their dogs were sick or dying from Beneful). Notably, Beneful said that the tests revealed no aflatoxin in their test samples.

Despite Beneful’s response, complaints have risen again.

This time, the complaints can be seen on the Consumer Affairs website. There are hundreds of them and in January of 2013 the site reported a “large increase in views of Beneful complaints and in the complaints themselves” over the last six months.

The Consumer Affairs Problem

But according to Susan Thixton at The Truth About Dog Food, the FDA confirmed to her only two to four complaints about Beneful over the past year. On January 14 of 2013, the FDA told Thixton of four additional complaints over the past 48 hours – and two of them were linked directly to the rise in Consumer Affairs complaints as reported online.

This isn’t meant to let Beneful, a brand that I personally despise, off the hook. But it should serve as a reminder as to the mischievous ways of the Internet. Finding the truth online can be as hard as finding good quality dog food; it takes some digging and some research. The fact is that we can’t explain where these complaints are coming from.

Consumer Affairs is not exactly known as a reputable hotbed for reporting problems, so any information from the site should be taken with a grain of salt. Simply put, they profit from customer complaints. Companies that want to refute the complaints have to pay a hefty fee. And so-called “consumers” with complaints, whether legitimate or fraudulent, don’t have to provide any personal information.

10 Good Reasons Why I Think Dog Owners Should Avoid Beneful

With that in mind, here’s my 10 reasons why Beneful should be avoided:

  1. Believed to be linked to illness and death – these links aren’t just confined to the Consumer Affairs site and have been cropping up all over the Internet. A search reveals more heartbroken pet owners who believe their dogs were killed or made sick as a result of Beneful dog food.
  2. Customer complaints – even if some of the complaints on Consumer Affairs are illegitimate, it should raise a few red flags. Why does Beneful have so many complaints and such a bad reputation?
  3. Lack of nutritionally valuable ingredients – this is a no-brainer. Just check out the ingredients list for yourselves.
  4. Corn as protein source – once again, a no-brainer.
  5. The aflatoxin link – this, as with some of the other reasons, is theoretical at this point. The FDA is currently investigating this possibility and we’ll have news when or if something turns up.
  6. Chicken by-product – the second ingredient on the list, behind, ground yellow corn is this devious crapshoot of garbage chicken parts. Avoid.
  7. Corn gluten meal – another by-product on the ingredients list and the THIRD ingredient on the list.
  8. Mystery animal fat – this is rendered fat. Period. It’s a rather dubious component at the best of times and could be the fat from multiple animals. Beneful labels it as “beef tallow.”
  9. Misleading advertising – the same could be said for just about any market brand especially lower grade formulas.
  10. One of the worst on the market – finally, based on the evidence, my opinion settles on the fact that this is one of the worst dog foods on the market.

As you can see, there are multiple reasons to be concerned about Beneful. In my view, it is a brand that dog owners should avoid. Read more low quality dog foods here.

One final note: if you have REAL complaints and concerns about Beneful, the best course of action is to not entrust your views with a questionable Internet site but take it to the source. Report any pet food complaints to the appropriate government bodies and take the guesswork out of it.

Our dogs deserve better.

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Showing 19 comments
  • N

    Even though I think this was an alright article, I think you overlooked the fact that Consumer Affairs requires a name and location for posting. Of course, the more pressing issue should be that that website allows ‘reviews’ that just attack someone for having a bad experience. That aside, I think those people should be listened to.

    On another note, I agree with the reasons you list for Beneful being an awful food.

  • Cucko

    Wish there was an agency like FDA checking on dog food in India. Even the Animal Welfare Board in Chennai, India, does nothing about it other than making noises about welfare of street animals. For the fact the vets in India are the biggest bas***** who for profits promote dubious products like Pedigree Professional and Drool.

    Many businesses have found dog food as a great way of disposing of carcasses of animals after shaving of the hide for the leather industry by dumping the remains in extruder plants for making kibbles. Drool is one of them who are also in the business of poultry. But then there is no authority, government or otherwise in India checking on dog food. Many other human waste products go into extruder plants.

    • janie knetzer

      Hi Cucko:
      Ya know, someone from India posted on this very topic not so long ago. That’s absolutely terrible. It’s all about money for companies like this!


    • Sarah

      It is incredible in this day and age that things like this go on, but even here in the UK human food industry there are shady goings-on. Not as bad as what you describe (that we know of!) but things like horse-meat in ‘beef’ products, non-meat ‘substance’ labeled as minced beef in ready-meals, and the whole BSE scandal happened because they fed prion-infected cows to calves…


      • janie knetzer

        Hey Sarah:
        Hmmm, wonder what that non meat substance is in the ready meals? Feeding cows to calves is sickening and they should be ashamed of themselves.

        • Sarah

          I’m hoping the substance is something like quorn or soy, but who knows! Yes, it still amazes me that someone thought that feeding meat, let alone the same species, to a herbivore was a good idea…!

  • Bev

    People need to be conscious of what they feed their dogs. Read the labels on everything!! It is an easy habit to establish once you put your mind to it and really care about the health and welfare of your dog. They are members of your family so treat them like they are!

    • janie knetzer

      Couldn’t have said it better Bev! You’re right, it’s a matter of doing it once or twice and then it will become habit. It’s a dangerous thing to rely on companies who care more about being in the black than they do about the welfare of your dog.

  • Sarah

    Great article. People are so quick to jump on a bandwagon of complaints, but we can all do our own research which starts with looking at the labels. It still astounds me the amount of dog owners I meet who don’t think to. I will be sharing this…thanks!

    • janie knetzer

      Hi Sarah:
      I’m glad that you found the article helpful and thanks for sharing too! I agree with you on the number of people that still don’t realize that what’s in the bag isn’t necessarily what’s pictured on the front of the bag. ~Janie

      P.S. You have an awesome site. Love the training information. I just shared!

      • Sarah

        Thanks Janie for the share too 🙂 I love Doggy Dan, I think he’s great.

        Hopefully with more people like yourself pushing the information out there, we can slowly drip-feed it to people and make a difference and save more and more dogs (and owners) from the pain of illness 🙂

        • janie knetzer

          My pleasure Sarah.

  • Bev

    Uggh! I would “never” feed this dog food to my dog anyway!
    My brother gives this brand to his dog… smh!!

    • janie knetzer

      Bev, you might want to share the article with him so that he realizes what exactly is going on with this food. This food along with Pedigree are the two foods that really burn me up. Why? Because the company plays on the emotions of the dog owner. With Beneful; it’s the cute shaggy dog with all the bright colored veggies and fruit and healthy looking slices of meat. Pedigree plays on the emotions of the owner by saying that a portion of what they pay will go to shelters. My opinion is that they should be paying people to feed this to their dogs! ~Janie

      • Bev

        Oh yes, I already fwd the article to him.


        • janie knetzer

          Great Bev. Hopefully together, we can make him see the light. lol!

  • pj murray

    I asked the pharmacist for Povidone iodine and
    he said Betadine was same. Is this the same?

    • janie knetzer

      Hi PJ:
      Yes, it is. Read more here.


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