Hill’s Science Diet Adult (Canned)

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Hill’s Science Diet Adult canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.

The Hill’s Science Diet Adult product line includes 11 canned dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Gourmet Beef Entree
  • Hill’s Science Diet Small/Toy Adult Gourmet Beef Entree
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Savory Stew with Beef (3 stars)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Gourmet Turkey Entree (2 stars)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Gourmet Chicken Entree (2 stars)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Beef and Chicken Entree (2 stars)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Savory Stew with Turkey (3 stars)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Savory Stew with Chicken (3 stars)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Small/Toy Adult Savory Stew with Beef (3 stars)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Small/Toy Adult Gourmet Chicken Entree (2 stars)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Small/Toy Adult Savory Stew with Chicken (3 stars)

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Gourmet Beef Entree was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Hill's Science Diet Adult Gourmet Beef Entree

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 26% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 50%

Ingredients: Water, beef, liver, ground whole grain corn, cracked pearled barley, chicken liver flavor, soybean oil, calcium carbonate, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), potassium chloride, iron oxide, choline chloride, iodized salt, vitamin E supplement, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, calcium iodate, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin, sodium selenite, folic acid

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 0.8%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis26%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis26%16%50%
Calorie Weighted Basis23%34%43%

The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.

The second ingredient is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The third ingredient is liver. Normally, liver can be considered a quality component. However, in this case, the source of the liver is not identified. For this reason, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.

The fourth item 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 fifth ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

After the chicken liver flavor, we find soybean oil is red flagged here only due to its rumored (yet unlikely) link to canine food allergies.

However, since soybean oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids and contains no omega-3’s, it’s considered less nutritious than flaxseed oil or a named animal fat.

The eighth ingredient is calcium carbonate, likely used here as a dietary mineral supplement.

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 three notable exceptions

First, we note the inclusion of chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

Next, iron oxide is a synthetic color additive used in industry to impart a reddish color to food — and paint. In its natural form, this chemical compound is more commonly known as “iron rust”.

We’re always disappointed to find any artificial coloring in a pet food. That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

And lastly, 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.

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Adult canned dog food looks like a below average wet 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 26%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 50%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 46% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 66%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal and soybean meal contained in some recipes, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing only a modest amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Hill’s Science Diet Adult is a plant-based canned dog food using a modest amount of beef, chicken, turkey and liver as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.

Not recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every report is directly dependent upon the quality of that data.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

12/30/2009 Original review
08/05/2010 Review updated
05/17/2012 Review updated
11/18/2013 Review updated
11/18/2013 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • JudyandSam Simpson Norris

    You should gradually switch over to a Grain Free food. That will help the skin condition tremendously !!!!! Did on mine !!!!!

  • Pingback: Canned Dog Food Choices | Healthier Dog()

  • http://www.thegreedypinstripes.com/ BryanV21

    Not all grains are created equal. Some of them are beneficial to dogs, as dogs do have the capability to digest some carbs.

    You’re forgetting that dogs get a balanced diet in the wild by eating the whole carcass from an animal. Not just it’s meat, but also things like bone, organs, and skin. Those things are not available in kibble, and therefore need to be made up for somehow… that’s where some carbs come in.

    And many high quality dog foods DO have grains or carbs in them. You have to have a carbohydrate in kibble, otherwise you couldn’t make kibble in the first place.

    Oh, and dogs and cats are not the same. You are lumping them together as carnivores, but they are not the same. Cats are obligate or “true” carnivores, meaning they should live on an animal-based diet. Dogs, on the other hand, or facultative or opportunistic carnivores, and can in fact digest and get nutrients from non-animal based foods like grains. Grains can cause issues in dogs, but not to ALL dogs. As a matter of fact, wild dogs have been found to eat fruits when they are short on prey.

    I’m not saying SD is good… not one bit. Just clearing up the fact that a meat-only diet for a dog is NOT complete and balanced, and that not all grains/carbs are “junk”.

  • Roger Biduk

    Hello Frank,
    No anger here, only great sadness for pets who are fed this junk and you’re wrong on many counts. I guess by saying “the food is high quality and natural“ means different thing to different people… I would certainly never, ever describe any Hill’s products this way.

    While I can’t comment on these people who seem angry to you, many of them simply understand ingredients and what they do to cats/dogs.
    The ingredients in Hills products are among the cheapest and worst. They have just put out a grain-free product which is at the very low end, with three of the first four ingredients being cheap starches which are horrible for cats/dogs and are responsible for causing all sorts of illness and disease (similar to grains). Contains powdered cellulose (cardboard) and dried beet pulp, cheap sugar-based garbage filler along with iodized salt and Phosphoric Acid.

    Beside Hill’s products getting caught and recalled by the FDA in 2007 in the Melamine
    Pet Food Poisoning Scandal, here’s the ingredients in the Ideal Balance Adult that should be avoided at all costs:

    Brown Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Soybean Meal, Pork, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Whole Grain Oats, Soybean Oil and Phosphoric Acid.

    Dogs are carnivores and must be fed a meat-based diet, having absolutely no need for carbohydrates derived from grains.
    There’s only two meat ingredients in this stuff with chicken being the first. The best commercial kibble contains up to eleven meat/fish ingredients!
    However, chicken is 75.6% water. So when the water evaporated from the heat of making
    the kibble, the actual chicken that is left is minimal so basically this is a cheap, grain-based, carbohydrate pet food containing four garbage grain ingredients (three of the first four ingredients).

    A dog’s nutritional need for carbs is ZERO, yet Hill’s Ideal Balance contains a mind-boggling 51% carbohydrates!

    Brown Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley and Whole Grain Oats – Pure junk. Waste products, very poor protein sources. These are used as most other grains would be in pet food – as cheap
    fillers/ingredients to boost protein levels instead of using high quality meat sources and are very harmful to dogs and cats.

    A highly processed, grain-based diet fed to a cat/dog that is designed to thrive on a meat-based, fresh food diet is very likely to produce symptoms of ill health over time. Diets to address disease most frequently deal with the symptoms that are the result of a lifetime of inappropriate food, not the true cause of their symptoms.

    Many holistic vets say that grain cause most, if not all of the degenerative diseases that pet owners spend thousands of dollars to try and cure.
    Grains used that are truly whole have usually been deemed unfit for human consumption because of mold, contaminants, poor quality
    or poor handling practices, which is obvious by the fact that most pet food recalls are the result of toxic grain products

    Soybean Meal, Soybean oil – Waste product. usually not fit for human consumption. Major source of pet allergies and a host of other very serious problems in cats and dogs.

    Found in very low quality pet foods that use cheap soy instead of more expensive meat as a protein source/filler. Indicates a very
    poor quality product.

    Soy is estrogenic and wreaks havoc on your pet’s endocrine system.

    Dried Egg Product – Waste product, pure junk. Cheap source of protein, waste product of egg industry, can contain undeveloped and diseased eggs, floor sweepings, rotten shells, etc. Not fit for human consumption.
    Pet foods containing quality ingredients never, ever use dried egg product in any of their foods. They only uses fresh, whole eggs.

    Phosphoric Acid – A sequestering agent for rendered animal fats — implies poor quality
    fats are used, source of phosphorous.
    A clear colorless liquid, H3PO4, used in fertilizers, detergents, food flavoring, and pharmaceuticals.used in inexpensive, poor quality dog food as flavoring, emulsifier and discoloration inhibitor. Used for example as a flavoring for Coca Cola.

    Pork fat – Usually not fit for human consumption, mused in cheap pet foods instead of chicken fat. See Phosphoric Acid above.

    Natural flavor – anyone’s guess what this is.

    All of the above ingredients are not a part of a natural diet of a carnivore and must be avoided.
    Pet foods containing quality ingredients never, ever use any of these ingredients in their products!

    You will never, ever find any of these ingredients in high quality commercially available pet foods, nor will you ever find them in healthy recipes for homemade pet meals.
    Where you’ll find them are in very affordable,
    highly processed, low-quality pet foods.

    I would give Hill’s Ideal Balance a rating of ZERO stars… but anyone can feed their cat/dog what they see fit.

    As far as you saying I have to be “loving and caring”, I obviously am by not feeding this garbage to my cats/dogs nor would I ever
    think of recommending this kind of stuff to my clients… I would like nothing more than your dogs to have a long and healthy life with absolutely no visits to the vets as mine have.

    Best regards and good luck, Roger Biduk

  • Frank

    Funny how all the very irate people go on Hill’s products and post angry comments. I happily say I love the new Ideal Balance, the food is high quality and natural. My dogs live to very old age, none ever had cancer. I have read several posts from people whose dogs lived to be very old on Hill’s. That is why I started to use it in the first place. You have to be loving and caring, not an angry person and your dogs will thrive for 18+ years

  • http://www.bestcatanddognutrition.com/ Roger Biduk

    All products made by Hill’s are among the worst out there. Extremely rare of dogs living to an old age on this garbage.

    This review isn’t any good, should be no stars.He doesn’t red-flag liver (generic name), potato starch, pork plasma and I can only imagine quaity of the “beef” in this garbage.

  • InkedMarie

    If you’re in the US and ok with ordering food, go to http://www.BrothersComplete.   It’s a dog food from Florida. While on the website, click to read the Brothers Document (in the center of the page, on top) about yeast. I am new to Brothers, like what I see so far. Click on Brothers here on DFA, read what people have to say. 

  • The-baglady

    so sorry for your loss.  what kind of skin condition?  I have a 7 yr. minature schnauzer who is having a horrible yeast infection with greasy skin/hair. being treated with terbinafine and seems to be working some.  He has another 4 days left but was hoping he would have improved alot more by now.  I’m a worrier but my new  holistic vet seems pretty positive things will be ok.  I think the yeast started from his being alergic to flea saliva and I didn’t start the comfortis soon enough this spring so he had lots of fleas. I’ve been feeding Hills KD but am wanting to switch to a higher protein food since he really doesn’t have kidney problems as first suspected when he was 1 yr. old but didn’t want to upset him by switching food then. i hope my winston can live as long as your muffin. My heart goes out to you with your loss.

  • Ispangl

    for about twenty years i have been feedinghills diat for adults to my dogs. muffin was 18 years and 5 month old, and had to be put to sleep because of a skin condition, otherwise she was in perfect health.
    sophie which is 12 now and has no problem, has eaten the same food. so i will stay with hill’s diat do not see any issue with it.