Beneful Dog Food in the Shopping Cart

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As a staunch proponent of the many benefits of using quality, healthy food to keep a dog healthy and happy, I often cringe when I walk down the pet food aisle in the grocery store. I realize that I am generalizing a bit with my next few statements, but I will say them anyway. Looking at the dog foods that are available for sale in most big box, chain grocers makes me want to cry! The reason is simple. For the most part, all I see are bags of food that contain fillers, artificial colors, preservatives, and the like. And I know that virtually everyone who puts one of these bags in their shopping cart is doing so without really knowing what is in that bag, and how it could have a detrimental impact on their pet’s health.


Pet Food in the Grocery Store

This past weekend, while in my local grocery store, I happened to walk by a man pushing a cart with 2 large bags of dog food, one of which was a Beneful brand food. I wanted so badly to stop and talk with this pet owner, to explain a bit about how to read a dog food label, about the folly of including multiple artificial colors (some of which are linked to serious disease), about why dogs are not meant to live on wheat and corn products, etc.   Although I chose not to open that discussion with a stranger in the store, I did realize that I have never had a similar urge to stop and talk with a shopper when I notice their shopping carts full of questionable human food. Like the ‘cheese’ snacks that contain no cheese or the cereals that are virtually neon colored by their artificial colorings.


And then it hit me, no, not for the first time, but for the first time in the grocery store, as to why I was so upset. It is because pet owners are the stewards of their pet’s health and the decisions that pet owners make regarding food (and exercise) will have an impact on the pet’s life, not the pet owner’s life.

Do I have to

It is one thing if a person chooses to live on a diet full of artificial ingredients and other relatively unhealthy foods. They make this choice and their bodies will pay the price, even if only in the longer run. It is a lot different when these same folks choose poor quality pet foods for their pets, either due to naivete, frugality, or just plain stupidity. In this case, the pet is not making a choice, rather the pet is forced to live the consequences of the pet owner’s choices. And that just bothers me. If we humans are responsible for our pet’s health, than it seems fair to ask, in this day and age with all the information available to us, that we make better pet food decisions for our pets.


What Should I Do?

I am well aware of the recent lawsuit against Purina and its Beneful brand and the angst I experienced this weekend has nothing to do with that. The result of this suit notwithstanding, Beneful and many other foods that are on the typical grocer’s shelves, can hardly be called species appropriate food. I have walked down an entire pet food aisle of one of my local grocery chains and couldn’t find one single food that I would feed my dogs!


So what should I do when I see a pet owner getting ready to bring this stuff home to their pet? Should I keep quiet, even though I know that the pet is being served inappropriate food? Should I engage in a conversation, even though I might unwittingly insult or otherwise hurt the pet owner’s feelings?


I would love to hear your point of view on this. What should I do the next time I witness a similar situation? What would you do?

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  1. Mostly the people who meet each other in the dog food department of a store talk about their dogs and the food they buy. We mostly have a short chat about the kind of food and the prices, so I can tell them to avoid suspect food and there is no one who says “it’s not my business” or “leave me alone”. The most people are as grateful as me when they get a tip or a hint :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MISCHIEF MOANDAYMy Profile

  2. I LOVED your post, mainly because I experience the very same reasons you mentioned whenever I’m at our local grocery store. When I see someone checking out at the register & unloading that huge bag of crappy commercial dog food, I just want to grab them by their shoulders, shake them, and say “NO!! Don’t buy this, it’s so bad for your dog!”.

    But I don’t because I would probably be removed & maybe even banned from the store?! That’s why I decided to blog about it.

    But seriously, I can’t stand seeing the “pet food aisle” in the supermarket, because there isn’t anything in there I would but for my own pups. Every time my husband & I are at the supermarket together, he shoves me past said aisle, saying “I know. I know exactly what you’re about to say. Why do you have the urge to repeat yourself whenever we walk past this aisle?” I’m not sure, it just really upsets me that stores carry this crap. Then again, it also somewhat upsets me when people are pushing their carts loaded with crappy human food. Sigh.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Last Week’s Value-Priced Food Score: Chicken Hearts & GibletsMy Profile

  3. I don’t say anything at stores but will tell the clients that come into work to avoid those products and steer them to the more nutritious ones.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Book Review Prezzies And A TreatMy Profile

  4. Well, I’m never in the pet food isle, but at Walmart I do see folks with that stores label dog food in their cart and I shudder. Nope, I’m not into confrontation with people I know, let alone strangers (and the area I live in is not particularly pet friendly), so I don’t say anything. If you do, I say “You go, girl!”
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  5. In my experience unsolicited advice, though well-meaning, is almost always counterproductive.
    Amy recently posted…Seeing Beautiful: Right Around The CornerMy Profile

  6. Ohhhhh that’s a hard topic! I have all too often felt like engaging with someone buying their dog food at a grocery store. I only ever have one time. The one time was because I found the person very approachable and we had ended up in a conversation about my huskies, so I thought it would be a great time to bring up diet. I have to say….when I was younger, I did by my dog food at the grocery store. I was completely dense when it came to the ingredients label and I thought I was buying the best for my dogs because of what the commercials were saying about certain foods. If someone had of approached me in a friendly manner at the grocery store to share their knowledge of dog food – I may still have bought that bag I was already there to buy, but I can guarantee it would have sparked me into doing some research and really begin thinking about what I was feeding.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Embarrassing Moments: Life With PetsMy Profile

  7. I agree with Amy. You have to choose your battles. Unless it’s immediate harm to the dog, like running off leash with little to no supervision, or having your dog ride loose in the back of pickup truck; I keep my mouth shut.( as hard as it may be)
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  8. Oh, wow! How well I can relate! Some people are ignorant, some are in denial. And it nearly kills me when I see people buy some of the crap on the grocery store shelves.

    But what really bothers me is knowing that MY OWN BROTHER has been feeding his dogs that Beneful crap! I know my brother and his wife all too well — I could talk to them til I’m blue in the face about the dangers of feeding that crap to my canine nephews; and they would listen politely, nod their heads in agreement, and continue on their merry way. My brother is in denial and will not budge.

    Okay, so I just keep my mouth shut and cringe. And then there’s my hubby but I won’t even go there! I can’t even begin to count the number of arguments we’ve had over what I feed our girls. I just pray — for the dogs’ sakes — that I outlive him because I shudder to think what crap he’d feed them!! Sounds horrible to say about one’s own spouse, I know. But our dogs are MY furry kids and I give them the best care I can afford. He would just buy whatever was cheapest and say “it’s perfectly good enough”. Grrrr! When I had to choose a different food for them earlier this year, I picked out a few different ones and then went to your dog food database to compare the ratings you gave each one. The Hills’ Ideal Balance won hand-over-fist over the others. With Ducky it was different because of her IBD, but the ingredients list of the two choices I had made it easy for me to decide. And she’s doing well on it, so that’s all that really matters. I’d rather raw-feed them, but it’s just WAY too expensive for our income.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…Captions and Other ThingsMy Profile

    • Glad to hear that Ducky is doing well. Maybe ask your husband if “good enough” is okay for him and then start buying crappy food and feeding it to him and see if it changes his tune 😉
      mkob recently posted…Beneful Dog Food in the Shopping CartMy Profile

  9. PS. Sorry — I got a bit long-winded there. 😉
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…Captions and Other ThingsMy Profile

  10. I loved this post. I have had conversations with friends, family members and total strangers. I can deal with the confrontational pet parent who get’s swollen like a blow fish, because I can speak factual about the overall health of the animal. Where I come to complete silence is when the owner compassionately tells me the “better” foods are too expensive and not within their financial means. How do you come back from that? I can’t tell them “well, perhaps you shouldn’t have pets!” #cantdothatone So this is truly a serious epidemic in our country for sure. Thanks for bringing this subject up. Hopefully we all can learn from one another on different approaches. I feel and share your pain Slimdoggy.

    • That is a point that’s hard to discuss. There are better low cost foods if folks take the time to seek them out. But I hear you – it’s a tough one.
      mkob recently posted…Beneful Dog Food in the Shopping CartMy Profile

  11. I bite my tongue! I so want to go into a discussion (which would probably come out like a lecture) about the crap they are buying. Even my own sister is one of those people!

    On a happier note, in my neighborhood during the peak of the “great recession” a few years back, an all natural dog food store opened. The owner is very picky about what she sells, researches everything, etc. I thought she was crazy, esp. given her timing in poor economic times. But you know what? Her stored THRIVED! There are plenty of people out there that understand the importance of good food. I was amazed at the number of people buying raw. (It helps that my area is affluent and highly educated I’m sure.) She was so successful, she opened another store last year!
    Taryn recently posted…Limerick Day!!!My Profile

  12. I constantly bite my tongue when I see humans making unhealthy choices for their dogs. Many people think it costs too much to buy quality food from a pet store or their vet. What they fail to realize is the cost of an unhealthy diet in the long run.
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  13. I would never engage a stranger about the choices they made for their pet. I know I would not appreciate it. If someone asks for my opinion, then I offer it and tell them it is only my opinion and they should take it as such. I can understand if they make a different choice for their pet.
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  14. It’s amazing how many people have no idea there are differences in pet foods besides just the price! We wouldn’t say anything because Mom is just the quiet kind, but she doesn’t say anything to the parents buying a load of junk to feed to their kids either. It is sad, but there is only so much one can do.
    Emma recently posted…Healthy Hiking SnacksMy Profile

  15. I think it’s a couple of things, economics and lack of education that allows people to continue to buy these poor kinds of feed. Like most endeavors hoping to change the universe for better, you have to eat that elephant one bite at a time. Making people aware is probably the first step.
    Monika recently posted…Disneyland or Disaster?My Profile

  16. I can’t remember when, but I once saw Kimberly from Keep the Tail Wagging post about this on Facebook. She said that if she sees someone looking at questionable dog products, she’ll walk over to pick up the food, flip it over to read the label, and then put it back. She said sometimes people will ask her why and then she explains it to them. I think I’m going to try her tactic in the future. I so want to educate people, but I want to do it in a respectful way.
    It’s Dog or Nothing recently posted…Only Natural Pet Twizzle SticksMy Profile

  17. I think if you can do it diplomatically and not confrontationally (is that a word?), some people might listen. The people I’ve tried to tell close to me don’t always listen though. I’m just not assertive enough to bring it up to strangers but I think if you are it can’t hurt to try and see how it goes.
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