Is Beneful REALLY Killing Our Dogs? Here’s an honest answer…

Is Beneful Killing Dogs? Probably not. But there is always that slim possibility that some batch was contaminated. I don’t know. What I do know is that Purina is a good pet food company and it will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of what this lawsuit is claiming. Just as is with human foods, during processing there is always the possibility for something to go wrong.

This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest problems with the internet and the media in general. They like to use the shock-factor because it grabs people’s attention. But then those people either 1) don’t read the entire article or 2) jump to their own unsubstantiated conclusions. Then rumors start, and anybody that has ever fed Beneful to their dog(s) blames the food for whatever problems their dog has had, is having or will have. “The food caused Fluffy to lose her mind and run out in the road where she got hit by a bus!” You think that sounds ridiculous? I’ve heard this and similar claims in person. And I’ve seen multiple blog posts and facebook posts making claims that are equally ridiculous about all kinds of pet products (Trifexis comes to mind).

I am not saying that it is silly for anyone to be concerned about these headlines. Good for you for paying attention! And for looking out for your pets and their well-being. But let’s not jump to conclusions and think that we need to take our asymptomatic dog to the vet for bloodwork because she was eating Beneful. My goodness, there are dogs that have eaten worse things (rat bait, chocolate, knives…) and survived with little to no incident.Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 8.09.48 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 8.09.59 PM

My opinions about pet food are expansive, but they are just my opinions from personal experience. What is the best food for your dog? Whatever fits in your budget that provides sustenance and well-being for your dog.

If you have the time, the resources and have done the appropriate research to ensure you are feeding a well-balanced diet, my personal recommendation is a whole raw food diet. Note that when I say “appropriate research” I do not mean googling the topic and reading one or two blogs or a Dogster article about someone’s experience with the raw diet. I mean that you have read publications by veterinary nutritionists, you have consulted with your personal veterinarian, and have read and understand any research that has been conducted by a qualified organization. A breeder’s webpage is NOT the appropriate place to research pet nutrition (or vaccination protocol for another example – another topic for another day). A raw diet isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing your own raw diet, and the cost of premade raw diets isn’t cheap.

The next best choice, in my opinion, is a home cooked diet. Once again, before deciding to take on the task of preparing your dog’s diet yourself, please make sure you are doing it healthfully. Dogs can’t live on cooked chicken livers. They need a well-balanced diet, and by doing the appropriate research you can find out what is meant by “well-balanced.” Like raw feeding, this takes a lot more work than feeding a kibble diet.

If you are not comfortable preparing your dog’s diet, or if you don’t have the time or the resources to do so, there’s nothing wrong with feeding a commercial diet in the form of kibble or canned food. However, not all commercial pet foods are created equal. My rules of thumb for choosing a commercial diet are (again, this is my opinion):

  1. Consult with your veterinarian about what he/she recommends.
  2. Read the ingredients label, not the front of the bag! And don’t take the flashy commercial with biased claims at face value. Here’s the FDA’s guidelines for pet food nutrition labeling, and here is a nice “how to” for decoding those labels.
  3. Don’t fall for the hype. If your dog hasn’t been diagnosed with a food allergy, your dog probably doesn’t have a food allergy. Food allergies are not as common as some pet food companies and other opinionators would like you to believe. If your dog is not sensitive to grains, there’s no good reason to completely avoid them; they do have health benefits!
  4. The more colorful the food, the less nutritious it most likely is. Do you think Fido really cares what color his kibbles are or that they are shaped to look like carrots and peas, hearts or bacon? No, he doesn’t. That’s just the food manufacturer’s cunning attempt to trick your human brain into thinking the food is healthy because it “looks like something real.”
  5. Avoid store-brand diets. Stick with a brand or manufacturer that is well-known and trusted, and/or one that sticks to the production of pet food only with on-staff veterinary nutritionists.

Other things to note when it comes to feeding your dog:

  1. If your dog doesn’t like or doesn’t appear to be thriving while on any particular diet, find one that suits your dog. You may find that you have to switch up the diet every now and again for some picky eaters. This isn’t a problem in my opinion. If you are changing diets, do it gradually. Mix the old and new diets for about a week before totally changing over to a new diet (start with 75% old diet mixed with 25% new diet and gradually decrease the amount of the old diet and increase the amount of the new diet over the course of several days).
  2. If your dog becomes ill after starting a new diet, DISCONTINUE feeding it and contact your veterinarian ASAP! Save the food packaging so that the lot number can be reported to the manufacturer if the food is a suspect.

Dog food

Purina makes some pretty decent diets (ProPlan and ONE are two of them), but they also manufacture some questionable ones. Beneful is one of those questionable ones. It’s not a very nutritious dog food (once again, my opinion). It looks pretty and has some nice packaging, but that’s about all it has that is any good. Do I think it’s killing your dog? Again, probably not. There may be an issue with a contaminated batch that we’ll learn about; or, because it is such a popular diet (nice work to the Purina marketing department) it might be nothing more than a coincidence that the dogs that became ill or died were being fed Beneful. If you feed Beneful, I’d recommend you change to something a bit more nutritious for your dog anyway. If you ask me what brand you should feed your dog, I’m going to tell you to discuss that with your veterinarian. I feed what I feed because it works for me and my dogs are doing well with it. What will work for you and your dog is a question that I cannot answer for you.

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