You can find detailed information about Nestle Purina, manufacturer of Beneful, in our longer review of Beneful Brand Dog Food, Original. There you will also find information about how the food is made, recalls, and their quality control. These mini reviews are designed to cover other foods produced by the same company using the same philosophy. Mini reviews provide some information about the main ingredients and any ingredients that stand out, the guaranteed analysis, and any special concerns about each food.
Beneful advertises the fact that it is made from "wholesome grains," real beef, and vegetables, so if you're looking for a grain free dog food, or a food with less grain, this is not the food for your dog. You can find Beneful in any grocery store. It is priced for most budgets. It looks like a nice food in terms of packaging and it is marketed as such. Certainly when it was introduced a few years ago, many choosy dog owners were willing to try it simply based on the nice packaging and promotion. In terms of price, it is one of several of Purina's modestly-priced grocery store brands. The food is marketed to appeal to pet owners who want their dogs to eat a healthier diet and who probably try to eat healthier themselves.
Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), rice flour, chicken, soy flour, water, propylene glycol, powdered cellulose, sugar, tricalcium phosphate, salt, phosphoric acid, animal digest, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (a preservative), dried carrots, non-fat yogurt powder, parsley flakes, calcium phosphate, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, added color, Red 40, manganese sulfate, Yellow 5, niacin, Yellow 6, Vitamin A supplement, Blue 2, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite, Blue 1.
If you have read other reviews on this site you probably think that I'm going to write a very negative review for Beneful Healthy Smile Dog Food. I will say at the start that it does not contain the kind of high quality ingredients found in some of the premium dog foods you can buy at pet food supply stores. Beneful is a grocery store brand and it can't compete with dog foods that cost $60 to $80 for a 25 lb bag. That's not realistic. On the other hand, it's important to always be mindful of the fact that not everyone can afford the most expensive dog foods.
Dog food companies are certainly aware of this truth and they make lots of brands aimed at people with modest dog food budgets. There are millions of dog owners who can't afford to pay an enormous amount for dog food but they love their dogs just as much as anyone else does. They also want to feed their dogs food that is nutritious. (And if you fall in this category, don't feel bad. You're certainly not alone.) You can feed your dog a good diet without spending a fortune. So, the question here is whether this particular food will meet your dog's nutritional needs.
I will also say that I probably have higher expectations and standards for a dog food that costs $80 than I do for a grocery store brand. If a company expects you to pay that much for a dog food then I'm going to be very picky about every claim and ingredient. I'll be picky about the grocery store brand, too, but it is what it is and I'm not going to preach about some of the ingredients.
So, let's get started.
First of all, let's state right up front that this food contains all the things that dog food gurus tell you to avoid: lots of corn, chicken by-product (meal), wheat, animal fat, soy, sugar, animal digest, added colors, and synthetic vitamin K. If your dog is at all prone to food allergies then this food has lots of things that could trigger them. In case you need a reminder, the top food allergy triggers in dogs are: beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat, and soy.
But, most dogs do not have food allergies. That's a fact. Food allergies make up about 10 percent of the allergies found in dogs. So most dogs can eat foods that contain corn, wheat, soy, and these other triggers without any problem. Of course, if you're looking for a grain free food, this isn't it. Otherwise, the grain content won't hurt your dog. It does contain about 45 percent carbohydrates which is pretty high for a dog food, but probably typical of grocery store foods. There are even some premium dog foods that have very high carb content, even grain free foods.
Contrary to popular opinion, dogs can digest grains like corn without much trouble. The latest scientific research shows that they have the digestive enzymes to be able to digest the starches in grains - unlike wolves. So, while corn has received a bad rap from many dog food bloggers in recent years, it's really not bad for your dog. The problem comes when it is used as a substitute for meat protein. This particular food does show ground yellow corn as the first ingredient and that's not good. We also find corn gluten meal as the third ingredient. Combined, that suggests there's a lot of corn in the food and it probably makes up a lot of the protein percentage - something we don't like to see. It's always better for dogs to get meat protein.
The second ingredient is a meat protein. It's chicken by-product meal. It's a named source, which is good. By-products are less desirable than whole chicken. According to AAFCO, chicken by-product meal is "the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice." So, this is animal protein. It's technically nutritious, though it doesn't sound very appetizing to people. Farther down in the ingredient list the food also contains chicken - a good source of Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Niacin and Selenium; and animal digest. Animal digest is defined by AAFCO as: "material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and un-decomposed animal tissue. The animal tissues used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth, hooves and feathers, except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice and shall be suitable for animal feed." The problem with animal digest is you don't really know much about it. It's not a very desirable source of protein.
The food uses animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E) as a source of fat. Again, the issue here is that the source is unidentified.
The food also contains several flours - whole wheat flour, rice flour, and soy flour. These flours act as binders in the food and hold the mixture together during the extrusion process. However, they can be problematic. They are relatively inexpensive so companies can over-use them. This is a problem because they don't provide much nutrition.
Propylene glycol is also found in the food. This ingredient is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) in dog food but the FDA has banned its use in cat foods because a link has been found between it and Heinz Body Anemia - a condition that can cause death. Heinz Body Anemia can also occur in dogs but so far there doesn't seem to be a link between propylene glycol and this condition in dogs.
The food also contains powdered cellulose which is an added fiber - a source of dietary fiber, mostly insoluble. http://www.petfoodindustry.com/2376.html Powdered cellulose is mostly made from trees. While that probably sounds questionable, it's often one of the most expensive ingredients added to dog foods. You sometimes see cellulose added to dog foods that do not contain vegetables or fruits as a way to add fiber to the diet.
Calcium propionate (a preservative) is also found in this food. This is an anti-fungal preservative that is often used in preserving breads to prevent mold. In humans it has been linked to damaging the stomach lining by exacerbating gastritis and inducing severe ulcers. Of course, dogs have much stronger stomach acids than humans do, so they may not be at risk for these problems.
This ingredient has also been linked to behavioral changes in children:
"A study in the "Journal of Paediatric Child Health" in 2002 reported that although calcium propionate may have little to no side effects on the average person, chronic exposure, especially in children, might induce a myriad of behavioral changes. A controlled group of children fed a strict diet without any food additives was compared to a group that was given traditional bread each day. The clinical trial revealed that "irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance in some children may be caused by a preservative in healthy foods consumed daily." These behavioral changes appear to be reversible when the preservative is removed from the child's diet."
Calcium propionate is also linked to migraine headaches in humans.
The food also contains a number of added colors which dogs don't need. Coloring is typically added to dog food to impress the owner. The added colors include: Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2, and Blue 1. Some of these colors have been linked to tumors and allergic reactions.
Menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity) is synthetic vitamin K. AAFCO and the FDA do not require dog food companies to include vitamin K in dog foods in any form so it's always a mystery to me why companies add this ingredient which stirs such controversy, especially when there are so many natural sources of vitamin K which would be easy to include. Fish meal, liver, and kelp are all natural sources of vitamin K. Synthetic vitamin K can cause immune problems, allergic reactions, and it's toxic in high doses, among other issues.
Finally, the food contains added vitamins and minerals.
Metabolizable Energy (ME)
3714kcal/kg; 1684kcal/lb. This food contains 362kcal/cup.
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Animal feeding tests using Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures substantiate that Beneful Healthy Smile provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.
Dry Matter Basis
Figured on a dry matter basis, this food contains approximately 29 percent protein and 11.6 percent fat. That's a moderately high percentage of protein but some of it comes from plant sources. The fat percentage is on the low side. The fiber percentage for the food comes to 4.7 percent which is normal for most dry foods. The carbohydrate percentage comes out to about 45 percent which is very high.
Beneful Healthy Smile Dog Food has moderately high protein and low fat, and a very high carbohydrate content. Much of the protein in the food appears to come from plant sources (corn). I don't see much in the food to show that it will particularly help your dog's smile and the company web site doesn't explain how the food will do this. The food contains a lot of ingredients that owners will probably want to avoid if possible.
Beneful Healthy Smile Dog Food has received our 2 paw rating.