Beneful Dog Food (Dry)


Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Purina Beneful Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2 stars.

The Purina Beneful product line includes 9 dry dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • Beneful Grain Free [M]
  • Beneful Playful Life [M]
  • Beneful Healthy Puppy [A]
  • Beneful Healthy Weight [M]
  • Beneful Originals with Real Beef [M]
  • Beneful IncrediBites with Real Beef [M]
  • Beneful Originals with Real Salmon [M]
  • Beneful Originals with Real Chicken [M]
  • Beneful IncrediBites with Real Chicken [M]

Purina Beneful IncrediBites with Real Chicken was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Purina Beneful IncrediBites with Real Chicken

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 49%

Ingredients: Chicken, whole grain corn, barley, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole grain wheat, rice, beef tallow preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, glycerin, egg and chicken flavor, calcium carbonate, salt, mono and dicalcium phosphate, oat meal, poultry and pork digest, potassium chloride, dried carrots, dried sweet potatoes, dried spinach, vitamins [vitamin E supplement, niacin, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), menadione sodium bisulfite (vitamin K), folic acid, biotin], minerals [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], choline chloride, yellow 6, l-lysine monohydrochloride, yellow 5, red 40, blue 2, garlic oil

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.7%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis25%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%14%49%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%30%44%
Protein = 26% | Fat = 30% | Carbs = 44%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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 second ingredient 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 third ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fourth 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 fifth 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 sixth ingredient is wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

The seventh ingredient is rice. Is this whole grain rice, brown rice or white rice? Since the word “rice” doesn’t tell us much, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.

The eighth ingredient is beef tallow, a fatty by-product of beef rendering. Tallow is high in saturated fats. However, this fat is typically associated with lower quality pet foods.

The ninth ingredient includes soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% 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 next item is poultry by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of slaughtered poultry 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 quality skeletal muscle (real meat).

We consider poultry by-products slightly lower in quality than a single-species ingredient (like chicken by-products).

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

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 seven notable exceptions

First, we find glycerin. Glycerin is used in the food industry as a natural sweetener and as a humectant to help preserve the moisture content of a product.

Next, we note the use of poultry and pork digest. A digest is a chemically hydrolyzed brew of slaughterhouse waste. Animal digests are usually sprayed onto the surface of a dry dog food to improve its taste.

In addition, garlic oil 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.1

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.

Additionally, 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 food is?

We also note 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.

Purina Beneful Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Purina 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 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 48% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

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 and soybean meal in this recipe, and the soybean germ meal and canola meal contained in the grain-free recipe, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Purina Beneful is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named by-product meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2 stars.

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.

Purina Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

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A Final Word

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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.

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Notes and Updates

06/04/2017 Last Update

  1. 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)
  • robert buchanan

    I would like to see a specific review on the Grain free dry as well. I see where others say they’ve now included that on the list above – but I don’t feel Dog Food Advisor truly “looked at or assessed” the grain free variance. The last update above shows June 2017 with a reference to a study in 2005.

    The Grain free variant drops seven of the 12 items listed in red at beginning of study – those items are:
    “whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, whole grain wheat, yellow 6, yellow 5, red 40, and blue 2”.
    It also includes pumpkin which is something I used to feed my Blue Heeler on the side at the advice of my vet.

    I switched from “Healthy Weight” to “Grain Free” and I think my dog seems to be doing better – i.e. more healthy bowel movements and her coat is a lot shinier and less hair loss.

  • robert buchanan

    What brand and flavor of grain free did you switch to?

  • Sandy Hill

    Im no dog food expert, as a matter of fact, I never really even thought there was that much difference in dog foods other than the taste and cost. I assumed they were all about equal as far as nutrition went and that they were all made out of basically the same ingredients. It wasnt until my dad and step moms 2 Westies and 1 Schnauzer that were all 3 healthy dogs all becames sick within just a few weeks from each other and died, that I became comcerned and began looking into it. After coming across numerous claims by hundreds maybe even thousands of pet owners of serious health issues and/or death that occurred suddenly, all of which oddly had one thing in common- all had just recently switched their dogs food to Purina Beneful Dog food..and all suffered basically the same symptoms..I felt strongly that that was the culprit that took the lives of my dads 3 dogs very unexpected and suddenly….but of course I had no way to prove it so nothing I could do really but learn from their experience and vow never to feed my dog (if I ever got one) that brand dog food…Its been about a year since they lost their dogs, and last week I went over to my moms that has a very sweet 6 yr old shizue thats never had many health problems…that had al of a sudden started having seizures and vomitting profusely and making the most pitiful choking/gagging sound that sounds similar to whooping cough..the vet was no help and basically told my mom that he was old and that she probably have to put him to sleep if it continued…I was disturbed at how he was perfectly fine a couple weeks ago but then saw him yesterday and it was like he was on his death bed so I began pondering what gould be wrong with him and suddenly I remembered my dads experience with his dogs so I asked my mom if she had changed his food recently. She had always fed him some special diet dry dog food so I was shocked when she replied and said yes that she had changed it about 2 weeks ago because the price of his special diet food had increased and she couldnt afford it anymore and I asked what she had been giving him and when she said, ” Beneful Grain-Free”…I knew without a doubt…that dog food is toxic, I told her about all the dogs that had gotten sick and/or died that had been switched to that dog food she immediately stopped giving it to him and purchased his original food…Its been a week, and he is still making the coughing/choking sound but no where near as frequently as it was last week and he no longer is vomitting everywhere, hopefully he will pull through thiis…Theres no way anyone could ever convince me that what has happened to my familes 4 precious pets, was caused by anything other than a toxic dog food known as Beneful…that stuff is poison…so sad

  • Charles Clark

    I rescued a dog in 2006(?), And fed this food. I only had her 7 months. I can’t say for sure if it’s this food. She wasn’t old, not sure exact age but was obvious she wasn’t a senior. One day she was real lethargic, she went to the vet, was kept overnight for observation but never came home. Never got a answer what caused her death so rapidly. I’m amazed at what I’ve learned about dogfood since then. I’m surprised people don’t get sick from handling some of it.

  • Tara Scott

    My dog who was completely healthy died from liver failure after just one nedium sized bag of Beneful. A friend of mine lost theirs too after feeding this dog “food” to their puppy. In my opinion it is toxic and should be removed from the shelves.

  • Cass

    My dogs have been on beneful healthy weight, beneful playful life and beneful incredibites for years and have had no issues.

  • Alecia Eaves

    Yes! My dog developed zinc responsive dermatosis at 7 years old after eating this food.