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by Caroline Ashford
This week I spoke with a man who alleges that his dog nearly died from the food he was feeding. He told me the story of what happened to him, and provided two videos; one that shows his dog while being fed Purina’s Beneful dry dog food, and another video taken after they stopped feeding this product. Video links are at the end of this article.
Mike Felician and his wife own a 4.5 year old Westy/Maltese mix named Xena, and a 2.5 year old Minpin/Chihuahua mix named Biggy. He fondly calls them his babies. He said that he and his wife have baby-proofed their home so there is nothing in the environment that would be harmful for their dogs to get into.
Mike was laid off work. His wife is disabled and they were struggling financially. At the end of January 2014 he purchased a 15-pound bag of Purina Beneful Incredibites to replace the more expensive food he had been feeding because he needed to save money, and the cover of the dog food bag showed what looked like healthy food with pictures of rice, beef and fresh vegetables.
When his little Xena became sick, he thought it might be a virus because every time she ate she would throw up. He also noticed that Biggy was drinking much larger amounts of water than normal.
Within a week, Xena began to have seizures. After her first seizure, she was unable to walk normally and she was unable to hold her head normally. Mike researched seizures in dogs on the web. Most of the posts indicted that seizures were not anything to be overly concerned with because dogs get them all of the time but seem to be OK afterwards.
Xena continued to have seizures. Her back legs would fall out from under her and she began refusing to eat the Purina Beneful. Biggy began to show similar symptoms. He was throwing up and beginning to urinate in the house, which was unusual for him.
Mike and his wife were sure that the dogs had contracted a virus and both were ill. After the seizures increased to multiple times a day, Mike contacted the VCA veterinarians. The veterinarian suggested a number of expensive tests but unfortunately Mike wasn’t in the financial position to be able to afford $2000 tests per dog. So the vet suggested phenobarbital, which is a medicine that controls seizures but does require consistent monitoring to avoid liver toxicity. When they brought Xena home from the vet, Biggy began having seizures as well.
Trying to figure out what could be causing this in both their dogs Mike and his wife reviewed the situation. The dogs were different breeds and genders. Their vet indicated that it had to be an internal problem so the only thing they had in common was the food.
Mike emailed the vet to let them know what was happening and he asked if seizures can be contagious for any reason and if it might be the food. Mike was assured that seizures were not contagious although he received no response on the food issue, so Mike looked for a second opinion for his dog. The new vet explained that without having the $2,000 to run tests and start treatment the best they could do was make the dog comfortable and wait out her final days.
Mike did more research in an attempt to find some way to save his “baby” when he stumbled up on this Facebook group Is BENEFUL by Purina KILLING or SICKENING Our Dogs? Post Your Story! which listed countless dogs whose owners had reported similar scenarios. The dog owners in this group all believe that Purina’s Beneful was the cause of their pets’ illnesses and deaths. Owners of surviving dogs allege that their animals survived after Purina’s Beneful was removed from their diets, although it appears from the posts that many others may not have been so lucky.
In earlier reports where pet parents alleged that the food was causing sickness and death, Purina has suggested that dogs were sick before eating Beneful. However, in Mike’s particular case, his vet said that his dog was completely healthy prior to this instance.
The FDA has collected Beneful samples from owners after reports were filed. However, more than one owner has stated that they have had no return calls regarding results.
Veterinarians do seem unusually quiet or at minimum vague on this subject. Perhaps it is because Purina sponsors and subsidizes so many veterinary training programs?
The aforementioned Facebook site opens to an image of a large quantity of blood passed by a dog on a bathroom floor, that died shortly after he starting eating Beneful, and is dedicated to helping people who have had to deal with what they believe are the after-effects of Purina’s Beneful. Mike found a suggested treatment for his dogs. He followed the directions closely and within a few days both of his dogs were better. No more vomiting, head-bobbing or falling down, and no more seizures. The dogs were acting like the playful puppies he was used to before buying Beneful. Below are the BEFORE VIDEO and the AFTER VIDEO and here is what Mike did that made his dogs better:
1. He removed Purina’s Beneful from their diet.
2. He changed to a diet without the ingredients that he discovered could be linked to health problems. He chose a grain-free, high-meat, low-carbohydrate diet with no Propylene Glycol, Glycerin or Sorbitol, no Corn, no Wheat, no Soy, no Byproducts, no Animal Fat, no Animal digest, no artificial colorings, or any other non-essential additives, as recommended by members of the Facebook group.
3. He gave Milk Thistle herb and Turmeric root twice daily, also recommended by members of the Facebook group he had found, gleaning further information from the 82+ information files that had been written and posted, covering anything from lists of grain- and potato-free cat and dog foods, to natural flea, worm and tick control.
Mike said “I just want to get the word out. My main interest is just letting people know my story” and he went on to say “I just want to spread the word to prevent other dogs from going through this”.
Mike’s dogs are now fully recovered. And, he says that they will never eat Purina’s Beneful again. In the first instance, as his dogs started to improve once off the Beneful, Michael contacted the company through the Beneful Facebook page, which he perceived as being the front door for consumers. They responded with repeated reassurances that Beneful was safe to feed.
Purina was contacted for comments on Michael’s two videos, and this was the response of Keith Schopp, Vice-President Corporate Pubic Relations, Nestle Purina PetCare Company:
“Thanks again for contacting us and we appreciate any efforts you are making to ensure the accuracy of your story. As we have previously responded, we don’t have any indication that this consumer has contacted us about any potential issues. So, we can’t speculate about the videos. However, we do encourage any consumer with a question about one of our products to contact us directly so we may work with them to understand their situation. We can tell you that Beneful® is a high quality, nutritious food that millions and millions of dogs enjoy and thrive on every day. Thanks. Keith.”
Here are Xena and Biggy while being fed a diet of Beneful Incredibites:
And, here are Xena and Biggy after discontinuing Beneful and supplementing their new, premium food with Milk Thistle and Turmeric:
Please visit the Facebook group Is BENEFUL by Purina KILLING or SICKENING Our Dogs? Post Your Story!.