Do you feed Purina Beneful Dog Food?

Do you feed Beneful because of features like “1st Ingredient Chicken” and “real beef” or “Antioxidant-rich Nutrition”?

Or because of that clean white package picturing cascades of healthy, whole ingredients?

Purina’s done an excellent job of making the Beneful line look the epitome of healthy dog food. So is it?

What You Need To Know About Beneful Dog Foods

The Beneful line includes the dry dog food formulas Originals, IncrediBites, Healthy Weight formulas, Select Ten limited ingredient diets, Grain-free formulas (in awesome resealable bags),  as well as several wet food formulas, dental chews and several kinds of treats.

You can give your dog all the different parts of his diet with this one brand. Which increases the chances that your dog will get sick. Or even die.

Purina’s Beneful products have been causing illness and death in dogs since 2015. Thousands of pet owners have reported dogs refusing to eat their Beneful dinners, having diarrhea, vomiting (often red with blood or in reaction to food dyes), and becoming lethargic. They have seen their dogs losing appetite, having seizures, kidney failure, diabetes, motor skill problems (lack of control over limbs, limping, and collapse), and pancreatitis. Some pet owners are finding insects (mealworms and grain mites) in the food.

Dogs have been diagnosed with E. coli, increased liver enzymes (indicating the liver encountered a toxin), irregular heartbeat, and pancreatitis by veterinarians over and over again. Many vets are holding Beneful products responsible.


How could a “healthy” dog food make so many pets so sick?

Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the recipes. First, we’ll set a code by which to interpret the ingredients. Bolded ingredients indicate where we want to pay attention.

Ingredients that are not italic are controversial when it comes to whether they are healthy or nutritious.
Ingredients in bold italic indicate ingredients known to be dangerous to dogs.
Underlined ingredients indicate sources of carbohydrates used to form the kibble, replace meat proteins, and add cheap energy to the formula.


The ingredient list for the Original Beef formula:

 Beef, Whole Grain Corn, Barley, Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten meal, Beef Tallow Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Soybean Meal, Oat Meal, Poultry By-Product Meal, Glycerin, Egg and Chicken Flavor, mono and Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Poultry and Pork Digest, Dried Spinach, Dried Peas, Dried Carrots, Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Folic Acid, Biotin], Choline Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 2, Garlic Oil. N-4090.

Ingredients for Purina Beneful Beef Pouches:

Beef, Malted Barley Extract, Soy Flour, Soy Grits, Water, Wheat Flour, Beef Fat Naturally Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Glycerin, Phosphoric Acid, Dried Peas, Dried Carrots, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Sorbic Acid (a Preservative), Soybean Oil, Calcium Propionate (a Preservative), Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], DL-Methionine, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K)], Naturally Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Choline Chloride, Natural Flavors, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid. 4097-A.

How to Break it Down

Controversial Ingredients (Not in italics): 
chicken by-product meal, Poultry by-product meal, Poultry and Pork Digest, Glycerin and Egg & Chicken flavor.


By-Product Meal, (from chicken and poultry) oh what controversial ingredients! Most pet food companies will tout the density of protein and nutrition in by-products, while blogs often warn about the unknowns in by-products.

The difficulty is in the unknown, because while By-products are usually nutrient-dense, they may not come from appropriately slaughtered animals, may not be USDA inspected or might be USDA condemned as unfit for human consumption, and come from objectionable parts of the animal.
Our advice is to avoid by-product meals in favor of more specific meat ingredients. (i.e., Chicken liver, beef kidney, lamb lung, beef heart, turkey liver, etc.)

(What are 4D Meats in Dog Food – Ingredient Definitions)


Poultry and Pork Digest has the same trouble by-products do.  Digests can be sourced from any species, whether slaughtered or not, and cannot include hair, horn, and hooves. This ingredient may also come from partially processed animals. It may appear on the ingredient list with a species name, or with the generic name. Digests are used to flavor-up a bland dog food. This doesn’t suggest that the food contains the whole, flavorful ingredients pictured on the bag.
Generally, careful pet parents avoid digests.


Glycerin is a binder, sweetener, and mold-inhibitor. It is often used to give foods a chewy texture and to enhance bland recipes to entice the dog to eat them. It has no nutritional benefit for dogs.

Some pet food manufacturers are using Glycerin that is derived from biofuel  (e.g. diesel fuel) processing.   This processing leads to significant amounts of residual methanol (wood alcohol) and sodium that remain in the Glycerin.  Methanol, a flammable, poisonous liquid used in making formaldehyde, is not something that you want to feed your pet.

What to know a pet food manufacturer trick? I’ve got one for you. When enough pressure was put on Purina for the ingredient Propylene Glycol found in Beneful foods, they switched the ingredient out for Glycerin.

“…propylene glycol is a component of antifreeze that is a known animal toxin, and the substance is high on the ingredient list in every formulation of Beneful.”
– Dr. Karen Becker

The propylene glycol used in Beneful foods was found to be industrial grade, not even made to be edible. Doubtless, this accounts for many of the sick dogs. Today you won’t find propylene glycol in Beneful ingredient lists, but if you look, you’ll discover glycerin in its place. High up in every ingredient list.


Egg and Chicken flavor only indicate that this blend of bland ingredients has no taste and therefore no dog would eat it if it were not flavored to entice them. If the food needs to be enhanced to taste like the ingredients that should make up the bulk of the product… like egg or chicken… it’s a good indication the majority of the food is not egg or chicken.


Carbohydrates (Underlined ingredients)

The carbohydrates include soy, peas, wheat, barley, rice, and oatmeal.
These starchy inclusions are necessary to form the kibbles and meaty chunks in wet foods, but they aren’t required parts of your dog’s diet.

In addition, the Truth About Pet Food conducted independent testing of Beneful Original dog food and found that it contained mycotoxins, toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains, which are a principal ingredient in the dog food.

Of all the cancer-causing agents we know about, Mycotoxins are some of the most potent. With cancer rates in dogs increasing, it does not seem wise to feed our dogs carcinogens.

(To learn more about grains in dog food check out: Grain-Free Dog Food: Help or Hype?)

Dangerous Ingredients (In bold)

Dangerous ingredients, in bold text, include sodium selenite, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K), calcium propionate (preservative), Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Blue 2.


Sodium Selenite is a synthetic supplement. The Material Safety Data Sheet (a resource provided for workers handling certain substances) for Sodium Selenite says:


Menadione sodium bisulfite complex is a synthetic vitamin K that is poorly digested by dogs and has known risks. The Material Safety Data Sheet (a resource provided for workers handling certain substances) says about menadione sodium bisulfite complex:

Potential Acute Health Effects: Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation (lung irritant).

Pet food consumer advocate Susan Thixton has written in the article “How Safe Is Pet Food” that the negative reactions listed on the Safety sheets are actually occurring in dogs. To learn more about this follow the link above.

Synthetic supplements like sodium selenite and menadione are not very safe or digestible sources of nutrition for our dogs. Nothing artificial will be as readily digestible as when it is found naturally in a whole food ingredient.
Better alternatives include using Selenium yeast and either a natural Vitamin K supplement or adding fresh leafy greens to your dog’s diet.

(Read about the benefits of adding leafy greens to your dog’s diet here!

Calcium propionate
is a chemical preservative that may be carcinogenic. There are healthier preservatives available, like Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) and Rosemary, so this ingredient should be unnecessary in “healthy” dog food.


Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Blue 2 are food dyes. In some countries, including the UK and Austria, the use of artificial food dyes is banned because studies show as little as 30 mg can cause behavior problems, hyperactivity, and ADHD, in children. This negative nervous-system interaction makes food dyes neurotoxinsany of several natural substances that interfere with the electrical activities of nerves, thus preventing them from functioning). Sadly, the FDA continues to allow companies to use these harmful colors in the US with no warning to the consumer, even though natural options are readily available.
These dyes may be responsible for the vomiting, seizures, motor skill problems, and increased liver enzymes seen in dogs who’ve eaten Beneful dog foods.

There is also some debate on whether these food dyes are potential carcinogens. Even if it’s not confirmed, why take the chance on something that offers no benefit? Cancer is at an estimated fifty percent chance for every dog now.

Purina Beneful Dog Food Causes Illness and Death in Dogs

Thousands of pet owners have reported illness resulting from feeding Beneful dog foods.

You can read pet owner complaints submitted to the FDA here: (although that might take you a good long time)

Click this image to read more…

After receiving so many complaints against Purina, FDA started an investigation, testing samples of Beneful Dog Food from three manufacturing plants.

The FDA found

  • Six samples of Beneful Dog Food tested above legal limits for cyanuric acid and melamine (the very same poisonous combination responsible for the 2007 pet food recall).
  • Six samples of Beneful Dog Food tested to contain ethoxyquin which was not listed on the label (it is illegal for a pet food to include an ingredient but not list it on the product label).
  • Purina refused to provide FDA with copies of records.
  • … refused to disclose the safety tests the company performs on ingredients to FDA.
  • and refused to disclose the actual contents or weights of individual ingredients that went into lots of foods consumers had reported killed or sickened their pet.
  • Purina refused to allow FDA to take photographs of manufacturing plants.

Despite these results and Purina’s lack of compliance, FDA ended the investigation without taking any real action. The findings should have warranted a recall of the tested products.

For pet owners, this wasn’t enough. Their pets were still getting sick, so one pet owner stood up to try to stop the chaos.
He filed a lawsuit against Purina in early 2015. The lawsuit represented the owners of 1,400 pets sick or dead from Beneful Dog Food.

November 26, 2016, the lawsuit was dismissed stating that the witnesses in the California court – veterinarians – were unqualified to speak for pet owners (consumers).
With the lawsuit dismissed and FDA backed out, Purina is marching forward with their beautiful marketing campaign with no accountability.


With a name like ‘Beneful,’ you expect a healthy food that will give your dog complete and even natural nutrition. In fact, that’s what Beneful should mean: Beneficial.

Beneful dog foods better fit the word the auto-correct feature on my computer tries to insert: Baneful – something poisonous, toxic, dangerous and destructive. does not recommend Purina Beneful dog food or any Beneful products. Veterinary evidence and thousands of pet owner complaints are enough for us. We encourage all pet owners to evaluate their pet food for any risks to their dog.

Not sure how to evaluate your dog food? Learn how to here: Choosing a Dog Food Part 1


Cassy Kay




Gruenstern, Dr. Jodie.  “Synthetic Vitamins and Minerals in Dog Foods” Web. Accessed Feb. 10, 2018.

Habib, Rodney. “Feeding Purina Products? You May Want To Follow the Latest Buzz in the Media Then” Web. Accessed Feb. 10, 2018.

Newman, Dr. Lisa. “Ingredient Analysis of Dr. Lisa Newman” Web. Accessed Feb. 10, 2018. “Glycerin: Pet Food Ingredients A to Z” April 8, 2014. Web. Accessed Feb. 10, 2018.

Sagman, Mike. “Sodium Selenite in Dog Food -Vital Nutrient or Dangerous Toxin?” Web. Accessed Feb. 10, 2018., Inc. “Material Safety Data Sheet Menadione-sodium bisulfite MSDS” Web. Accessed Feb. 10, 2018., Inc. “Material Safety Data Sheet Sodium selenite MSDS” Web. Accessed Feb. 10, 2018.

Thixton, Susan. “How Safe is Pet Food?” April 10, 2016. Web. Accessed Feb. 10, 2018.

Thixton, Susan. “Purina Beneful Walks Away From Accountability” Nov. 21, 2016. Web. Accessed Feb. 10, 2018.

Thixton, Susan. “A Comparison – FDA Response to Pet Illness and Death Linked to Kibble and Raw Pet Food” February 14, 2018. Web. Accessed Feb. 16, 2018.

Becker, Karen DVM. “Beneful Dog Food: Pet Poisoning Ledto Illness and Death” Web. Accessed Feb. 23, 2018.


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