The Ben’s Best Dog Food product line includes one dry recipe, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines for all life stages.
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Meat and bone meal, ground yellow corn, wheat middlings, corn gluten feed, hominy feed, corn distillers dried grains with solubles, soybean meal, wheat flour, animal fat(preserved with BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin), calcium carbonate, animal digest, salt, choline chloride, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamin E supplement, silicon dioxide, sodium selenite, copper sulfate, niacin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, manganous oxide, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, menadione dimethylpyrimidinol bisulfite, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, biotin, and folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.1%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||9%||59%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||21%||56%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.1
Meat and bone meal can have a lower digestibility than most other meat meals.
Scientists believe this decreased absorption may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.2
What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. So, the meat itself can come from any combination of cattle, pigs, sheep or goats — which can make identifying specific food allergens impossible.
Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this to be a quality item.
The second ingredient is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.
The third ingredient includes wheat middlings, commonly known as “wheat mill run”. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat mill run is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.
Unfortunately, the variations in nutrient content found in wheat middlings can be a critical issue in determining their suitability for use in any dog food — or even livestock feeds.3
In reality, wheat middlings are nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and an ingredient more typically associated with lower quality pet foods.
The fourth ingredient is corn gluten feed, a by-product from the manufacture of cornstarch and corn syrup. However, corn gluten feed should not be confused with corn gluten meal.
That’s because corn gluten feed contains about 30% protein, about half that of corn gluten meal. And when compared to meat, glutens are inferior plant-based proteins lower in many of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.
In addition, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
It’s unusual to find this feed item in a commercial dog food. As its name suggests, corn gluten feed is primarily used as an ingredient in cattle feeds.
The fifth ingredient is hominy feed. Hominy feed is a cereal grain by-product consisting of corn bran, corn germ and unextracted starchy portions left over after milling corn.
Aside from its energy content, this item is more typically found in cattle feed and is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The sixth ingredient lists corn distillers grains with solubles, a by-product of the ethanol (bio-fuel) industry. This low quality ingredient is frequently found in cattle feed and only rarely used to make pet food.
The seventh ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.
Although soybean meal contains 48% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The eighth ingredient is wheat flour, a highly-refined product of wheat milling. Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider wheat a preferred component in any dog food.
The ninth ingredient is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.
Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized pets.
What’s worse, this fat is preserved with BHA and BHT and ethoxyquin. All of these chemical additives are suspected cancer-causing agents (carcinogens).
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With four notable exceptions…
First, animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is typically sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.
Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
In addition, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.
And lastly, this recipe contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.
Ben’s Best Dog Food The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Ben’s Best Dog Food looks like a below-average dry product.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 24%, a fat level of 9% and estimated carbohydrates of about 59%.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 38%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten feed and soybean meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a modest amount of meat.
Ben’s Best is a plant-based dry dog food using a modest amount of meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.