Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light (Canned)

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light canned dog food earns the Advisor’s lowest tier rating of 1 star.

The Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light product line includes two canned dog foods. Although each formulation appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we were unable to find AAFCO nutritional profile recommendations for these dog foods on the product website. So, it’s impossible for us to report life stage targets for these recipes.

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

  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light with Liver
  • Hill’s Science Diet Small and Toy Adult Light with Liver

Hill’s Science Diet Light with Liver was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Hill's Science Diet Adult Light with Liver

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 20% | Fat = 9% | Carbs = 64%

Ingredients: Water, ground whole grain corn, meat by-products, soybean mill run, liver, corn gluten meal, chicken liver flavor, powdered cellulose, egg product, soybean oil, calcium carbonate, dicalcium phosphate, iodized salt, iron oxide, potassium chloride, taurine, vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, calcium iodate, riboflavin, folic acid, sodium selenite

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 9.7%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis20%9%NA
Dry Matter Basis20%9%64%
Calorie Weighted Basis19%20%61%

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 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 is meat by-products, an item made from slaughterhouse waste. This is what’s left of slaughtered animals after all the prime striated muscle cuts have been removed.

With the exception of hair, horns, teeth and hooves, this item can include almost any other part of the animal.1

Although most meat by-products can be nutritious, we do not consider such vaguely described (generic) ingredients to be as high in quality as those derived from a named animal source.

The fourth ingredient is soybean mill run. Mill run is a by-product, mostly the hulls of soybeans remaining after processing the beans into meal. This is nothing more than a cheap, low-quality filler more commonly found in cattle feeds.

The fifth 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 sixth ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Compared to meat, glutens are inferior grain-based proteins lower in some of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.

This inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

After the chicken liver flavor, we find powdered cellulose, a non-digestible plant fiber usually made from the by-products of vegetable processing. Except for the usual benefits of fiber, powdered cellulose provides no nutritional value to a dog.

The ninth ingredient is egg product, an unspecified (wet or dry?) form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

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, 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.

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?

In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

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 Light Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light 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 20%, a fat level of 9% and estimated carbohydrates of about 64%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 19% and a mean fat level of 9%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 64% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.

Low protein. Low fat. And high in carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing just a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light is a plant-based canned dog food using a limited amount of generic meat by-products as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

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.

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.

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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.

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Notes and Updates

01/01/2010 Original review
08/03/2010 Review updated
11/13/2011 Review updated
05/15/2013 Review updated
05/15/2013 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Anneke… Due to the quality of their ingredients (and the low meat content of many of their recipes), I’m not a fan of the Hill’s products. For weight loss, think about what works for us humans. Why not pick a quality dog food and simply feed less of it? Hope this helps.

  • Anneke Felske

    I have three small dogs approximately 1 1/2 years old each (1 Maltese, 2 Bichon/Yorkie mix). The vet says that they are all on the edge of being overweight (11-12 lbs). Sadly they don’t get alot of exercise. Up til now they have been fed Science Diet adult chicken (canned) entree, so I thought a good transition would be the “light” variety of the same. NOT the same, it appears. Very dry, even coming from the can, and not even nutritious it seems. I am in a quandry about what’s best for them! Would the dry variety be better?