Beneful Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Beneful Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.

The Beneful product line includes eight dry dog foods, seven claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and one for adult maintenance.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Beneful Original
  • Beneful Playful Life
  • Beneful IncrediBites
  • Beneful Healthy Smile
  • Beneful Healthy Fiesta
  • Beneful Healthy Weight
  • Beneful Healthy Radiance
  • Beneful Healthy Growth for Puppies

Beneful IncrediBites was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Beneful IncrediBites

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 31% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 47%

Ingredients: Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, beef, rice flour, soy flour, meat and bone meal, propylene glycol, sugar, salt, phosphoric acid, mono and dicalcium phosphate, animal digest, potassium chloride, tricalcium phosphate, sorbic acid (a preservative), non-fat yogurt, dried carrots, dried peas, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, l-lysine monohydrochloride, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, red 40, niacin, vitamin A supplement, yellow 5, yellow 6, copper sulfate, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, blue 2, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.7%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis27%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis31%14%47%
Calorie Weighted Basis28%30%42%

The first ingredient in this dog food is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The second ingredient is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the prime cuts have been removed.

In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except feathers.

On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

In any case, although this item contains all the amino acids a dog needs, we consider chicken by-products an inexpensive, lower quality ingredient.

The third ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Although corn gluten meal contains 60% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is wheat flour, a highly-refined product of wheat milling. Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider wheat a preferred component in any dog food.

The fifth ingredient is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.

Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized pets.

For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

The sixth ingredient is beef. Although it’s a quality item, raw beef contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The seventh ingredient is rice flour. Rice flour is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.

The eighth ingredient is soy flour, a high-protein by-product of soybean processing.

Although soy flour contains about 51% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The ninth ingredient is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.1

Meat and bone meal can have a lower digestibility than most other meat meals.

Scientists believe this decreased absorption may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.2

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this ingredient could come from almost anywhere: spoiled supermarket meat, roadkill, dead, diseased or dying livestock — even euthanized farm animals.

Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this a quality item.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With nine notable exceptions

First, this product contains the controversial food moisturizer, propylene glycol. Propylene glycol has been banned by the FDA for use in making cat food.

However, it can still be found in some commercial dog foods.

Second, we note the inclusion of sugar. Sugar is always an unwelcome addition to any dog food. Because of its high glycemic index, it can unfavorably impact the blood glucose level of any animal soon after it is eaten.

Next, this food contains animal digest. Animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is typically sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.

In addition, this recipe contains dried peas. Dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.

However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

Next, we’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any pet food. That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his kibble is?

We also note that garlic can be a controversial item. Although many favor the ingredient for its claimed health benefits, garlic has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.3

So, one must weigh the potential benefits of feeding garlic against its proven tendency to cause subclinical damage to the red blood cells of the animal.

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

In addition, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.

And lastly, this food contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

Beneful Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Beneful Dog Food looks like a below-average dry product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 31%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 47%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 12%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 50% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 41%.

Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal, soy flour and dried peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Beneful Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken by-product meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

Not recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Other spellings: Beniful

Notes

03/26/2015 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. Shirley RB and Parsons CM, Effect of Ash Content on Protein Quality of Meat and Bone Meal, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Poultry Science, 2001 80: 626-632
  3. Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005)
  • JellyCat

    The reason why Purina will never settle, is because settling means admitting that their food isn’t as healthy as they claim it is. That would be extremely damaging to the brand.

  • Dee Robinson Terry

    So It’s ok if they keep killing dogs and cats with this food? Please go to the FDA site and read all of the complaints, all the way through. And yes I have a complaint on there for my dad. His pet’s became deathly ill from this food with high vet bills. Thank god they are ok now. But read all about the ones that are now dead. You are slowly killing your pets. I can’t believe you are defending Purina to save a buck. It’s not about free money, it’s about saving animals. You really need to educate yourself on this matter. Praying for your pets!

  • mia

    I had been feeding my 8 yr old

  • Dog_Obsessed

    I agree, there is absolutely no reason it should be in dog food. It can be good for anti-freeze though, even though it is not totally non-toxic, because it would be less harmful if a dog were to accidentally ingest some of it.

  • pitlove

    propylene glycol is the second cousin to ethylene glycol and is still toxic at high doses (AKA a dog eating Beneful every day for 10 years). And propylene glycol is used in a supposedly “non-toxic” form of anti-freeze. Also it is used as a moistining agent and has zero nutrional value to your dog. So why should he have to eat it?

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/RockyMTNsteeze Miltapher

    I tried to post this about a week ago, here it is.

  • Crazy4dogs

    The rating given for this food and any of the variations are more than fair, in my opinion.
    Read any of the ingredients in any of the formulas:
    https://www.beneful.com/products?utm_campaign=always+on&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_content=dog-beneful-Branded%7CGeneral%7CExact&utm_term=beneful+dog+food.

    It’s sad that marketing and advertising can get people to believe that this is “healthy” as stated in 5 varieties and makes dogs “playful”.
    I wish they would spend some of their marketing & advertising budget on better ingredients.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Yup! Same!

  • Dori

    Quite simply stated, and, of course, it is only my opinion and does not represent the thoughts and opinions of anyone else on DFA, this food is not fit for any living creature to consume. People can make all the justifications for feeding this food that they want and others of the same ilk, but it does not change what the ingredients are in any of their formulas. To pretend that DFA or Dr. Mike has chosen the lesser of evils only takes a moment of research on Beneful’s site to see the truth of every formula for this line of food. Everyone can feed their animals whatever they choose, but it is what it is, pretending otherwise is a bit delusional.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Glad to see the the offensive word was removed!

  • Shawna

    If you look at Taste of the Wild, and other foods, you will see that each specific food has a different star rating even though there is only one article. http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/taste-of-the-wild-dog-food-dry/

    The criteria that DFA author uses to rate a food, amount and quality of protein, quality of ingredients etc, are so similar in Beneful that the stars given are identical for each line.