COLUMBUS, Ohio (MEDIA GENERAL) – After a lawsuit was filed accusing Purina’s Beneful of killing and sickening dogs, we spoke with an animal science expert about what you should know when feeding your pet. Purina has released a statement saying Beneful is safe and pet owners should keep using it.
Tony Buffington is a professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University. He’s also a former pet owner and an animal lover. He responded to our questions about what pet owners should know.
What should I look for when I feed my pet?
Exactly the same thing you’d look for in what you feed your partner, kids or anyone else. It’s really hard to isolate the diet as a cause for sickness. There’s nothing unique about how food interacts with your pet or how it interacts with you or your family.
Is it common for animals to react when they are fed something new?
If it’s the first time the animal ever eats it, it may have some normal intestinal issues. Some animals get GI distress when you switch food quickly. The animal’s GI tract adapts to its diet and when that changes, it has to readapt.
How do pet owners know if something is wrong?
You have to be generally sensitive to if your animal isn’t feeling well. Not feeling well, vomiting, diarrhea are all common symptoms with food poisoning. If you think your animal isn’t acting normally, you should take them to the vet.
How important are the ingredients on the bag of pet food?
The last thing you should do is look at the ingredient list on the bag. There’s no dog or cat that has a need for any ingredient. Animals need nutrients that are contained in ingredients. When you look at an ingredient, you can’t know exactly what it is, what its quality is, how much is in there and you can’t know how it’s influencing the entire bag. The only way you can tell if a diet is satisfactory is to feed it to the animal and watch the outcome. Buffington went on to suggest the ingredients are simply a marketing ploy by pet food companies.
The suit alleges Beneful contains propylene glycol, which it says is an animal toxin used in automobile antifreeze, and mycotoxins, a group of toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains. What can you tell us about propylene glycol?
Both propylene glycol and ethylene glycol can be found in automobile antifreeze. However, they often get confused. Ethylene glycol is toxic, not propylene.
Do different breeds or different sizes of pets need different food?
Basically, no. Pet food companies have marketed that fact. But, do different races of people or different sizes of people need different food? Not really.
What did you feed your dog?
I fed my dog food I could buy from the grocery store because it’s easier. I know that diets in the United States are not the problem.
**Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that propylene glycol binds water and is safe for dogs and is often confused with ethylene glycol which is in automobile antifreeze. We apologize for our error.