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Lawsuits allege Purina’s Beneful can harm, kill dogs

By Dr. Andrew Jones

Dog Sick

There have been 2 lawsuits filed against pet food maker Nestle Purina alleging that its Beneful food kills dogs.

California Lawsuit

The first is a class action lawsuit against Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., alleges its Beneful brand dog food contains toxins that are harmful to dogs and can cause their death.

Frank Lucido, who filed the lawsuit Feb. 5 in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, claims in the suit that “Beneful contains substances that are toxic to animals and that have resulted in the serious illness and death of thousands of dogs,” including one of Lucido’s dogs, according to court documents.

He claims that one of his dogs died and two others became ill after being fed exclusively Beneful for over a month. All three of the pets were being kept in separate houses at the time due to home renovations.

Massachusetts Lawsuit

The second lawsuit is by a Massachusetts man, against pet food maker Nestle Purina alleging that its Beneful food kills dogs.

It was filed Feb. 27 in federal court in Boston, saying that Saugus resident Paul Malcolm suffered “severe physical and emotional distress” after his Rotweiler-bulldog mix Ben died on February 26 after collapsing several times during the night of February 25 and the next morning.

Although Malcolm rushed his 135-pound dog to Saugus Animal Hospital, the complaint says, the dog died en route.

Ben had been fed a diet of Beneful Healthy Weight for three to four years, which the complaint asserts had a “direct and proximate” role in the dog’s death.

Hundreds of Complaints about Beneful

According to the Huffington Post, The customer complaint website Consumer Affairs contains hundreds of stories of pets who developed seizures, diarrhea, skin problems and even liver failure after eating the Beneful line of foods.

One pet owner, Barbara from Farmington, N.H., wrote that she fed her 10-year-old Golden Retriever, Oliver, Beneful wet food on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and noticed nothing abnormal. But in the evening of the 25th, she found him dead on her living room floor with a bloated stomach. A vet visit a week beforehand found he was healthy, she wrote.

“I can’t be certain that this is what killed my dog, but it seems probable after reading what other people have written.”

Two potential toxins

The suit names two substances it says are toxins: propylene glycol, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved food additive that

Purina says on its website is also used in salad dressings and cake mixes. The company uses it to keep its dry kibble moist.

It also hasn’t been found to be toxic.

But the lawsuit names another possible culprit: mycotoxins, a byproduct of mold found in many grains, according to the Daily Beast.

Purina Responds

Keith Schopp, vice president of corporate public relations for Nestlé Purina PetCare, “We believe the lawsuit is without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against it.”

What other Veterinarians say

According to the veterinary website, dvm360: Veterinarians call for evidence-based approach in wake of Beneful lawsuit

Latest action has Purina playing defense and veterinarians asking consumers to back away from the Internet and consult a veterinarian.

“There has been no substantiated evidence that Beneful has caused problems when fed to dogs. Poison control groups have not expressed concerns, nor has the FDA,” says Stephen Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM, who serves as the Nestlé Purina Fellow in Veterinary Medicine.

“I understand that when an animal is sick, pet owners are upset and often look first to the pet’s food and environment as the cause,” Ettinger says. “But when evaluated carefully, clinical signs more often are due to primary medical conditions.”

Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, the author behind the blog pawcurious.com, has recently addressed the topic of misinformation in the world of pet nutrition. Vogelsang says accusations that propylene glycol is toxic seem like a legal team grasping for straws. “We have to make sure—before we pull out the pitchforks—if we’re going after the wrong thing,” she says

Beneful Ingredients

Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, rice flour, beef, soy flour, meat and bone meal, propylene glycol, sugar, tricalcium phosphate, salt, phosphoric acid, potassium chloride, animal digest, sorbic acid (a preservative), mono and dicalcium phosphate, dried spinach, dried peas, dried carrots, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, Red 40, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, Blue 2, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.

Dr Jones responds

The lawsuits include two dogs that have died, and two sick dogs.

The consumer reports website has hundreds of complaints about illness in dogs after eating Beneful.

Seems like a problem to me.

The ingredients point toward a poor quality food: Ground corn as first ingredient, chicken by-products as second ( ground up bits of leftover chicken parts..), then corn gluten ( more corn), then wheat flour..

Hard to see much nutritional value in this food.

Should you feed this to your dog?

No

Is it possibly making other dogs ill, and could it have contributed to the deaths of the two dogs in the lawsuits.

Yes, but it will be virtually impossible to prove it.

I applaud these 2 individuals for taking a stand, and making it public.

Best Wishes,

Andrew Jones, DVM

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