The truth behind dog food marketing

Disclosure: Our recommendations are based on our testing, research and analysis. We may earn a commission on products purchased using links on this page.

Consumers can’t know the health value of packaged dog foods by commercials or feeding them.

Judging merit by product advertising or marketing brochures can also be deceiving.  So dog owners need to understand the ingredients to help make an informed decision on the quality of food they are feeding their dog.

Recently Beneful came out with a new recipe for their dog food.  Its advertising promotes “with real chicken the first ingredient accented with apples, carrots & green beans.”  Sounds wonderful. But marketing can fool you.

Here are the ingredients.

Chicken, whole grain corn, barley, rice, chicken by-product meal, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, beef tallow preserved with mixed tocopherols, soybean meal, oatmeal, poultry by-product meal, glycerin, egg and chicken flavor, mono and dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, potassium chloride, poultry and pork digest, avocado, dried carrots, dried tomatoes, MINERALS [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], VITAMINS [Vitamin E supplement, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), menadione sodium bisulfite (Vitamin K), folic acid, biotin], choline chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2, garlic oil, Yellow 6.

AAFCO Rules for Pet Food Naming

The quality and content found in pet food are regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.  The AAFCO has established some guidelines based on content that food companies must follow when naming their food. You can use these rules as a helpful way of determining the actual content of your brand of dog food.

[Ingredient] Dog Food – The ingredient may be beef, chicken, lamb, etc.  The net weight of these foods must be comprised of at least 95% of the named ingredient.

 [Ingredient] Dinner, Formula, Meal, or Nugget – The net weight of these foods must comprise at least 25% of the named ingredient.

With [Ingredient] – The net weight of these foods must be comprised of at least 3% of the named ingredient.

[Ingredient] Flavor, Flavored – These foods have no specified required percentage.

There is a lot of information to consider when choosing the food you will feed your puppy (or adult dog).  It is a good idea to compare several different food brands before selecting one.  Make sure you have chosen a dog food that you are comfortable giving to your puppy (both quality and financially).  If you are not sure which food to select, you can always consult your veterinarian or check out one of the many websites that review hundreds of different dog foods.

Beneful Dog Food

Let’s look at the first 5 ingredients of this dog food.

  1.  Chicken: the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails.  (Translation: Chicken meat, skin, and bone)
  2. whole-grain corn:   There is a saying which states, “corn is for hogs, not for dogs.”  Definitely true in this situation, barley: Dogs don’t need corn. And they don’t need wheat, barley, rice, or potatoes, either.  Yet surprisingly, carbs represent the dominant nutrient found in most dry dog foods.
  3. rice: same as 2 & 3
  4. Chicken by-product meal: 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 unavoidably in good processing practice.  (Translation: ground-up necks, unborn eggs, feet, and organs)


Although dogs enjoy eating Beneful, it is not quality dog food.  Acme Canine gives it 2 paws for creating a better recipe than what was in Beneful before but still has a long way to go before it would be a dog food we would recommend for your dog.

Let’s talk dogs, or even better, let’s learn about dogs.  Gain more canine knowledge through Acme Canine’s social media:  websiteFacebookYouTubeInstagram

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