Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Hill’s Science Diet Adult product line lists 16 dry 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.
- Science Diet Adult Light
- Science Diet Adult Large Breed
- Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites
- Science Diet Adult Large Breed Light
- Science Diet Adult Small and Toy Breed
- Science Diet Adult Oral Care (2.5 stars)
- Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Original
- Science Diet Adult Small and Toy Breed Light
- Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Small Bites
- Science Diet Adult Large Breed Lamb Meal and Rice
- Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Small Bites (2 stars)
- Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed (2 stars)
- Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Lamb Meal and Rice
- Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin (2.5 stars)
- Science Diet Adult Small and Toy Breed Lamb Meal and Rice
- Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Small Bites Lamb Meal & Rice
Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Original was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Hill's Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Original
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, whole grain wheat, cracked pearled barley, whole grain sorghum, whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken meal, chicken liver flavor, pork fat, dried beet pulp, soybean oil, lactic acid, flaxseed, potassium chloride, iodized salt, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), niacin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement), minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), oat fiber, taurine, mixed tocopherols for freshness, natural flavors, beta-carotene, dried apples, dried broccoli, dried carrots, dried cranberries, dried peas
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.2%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||25%||15%||53%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||32%||46%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is wheat. 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 third 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.
The fourth ingredient is sorghum. Sorghum (milo) is a starchy cereal grain with a nutrient profile similar to corn.
Since it is gluten-free and boasts a smoother blood sugar behavior than other grains, sorghum may be considered an acceptable non-meat ingredient.
The fifth ingredient is corn. Corn is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as wheat (previously discussed).
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.
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 seventh ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
After the chicken liver flavor, we find pork fat, a product from rendering pig meat.
Commonly known as lard, pork fat can add significant flavor to any dog food. And it can be high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.
Although it may not sound very appetizing, pork fat (in moderate amounts) is actually an acceptable pet food ingredient.
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 six 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, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
In addition, beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
Next, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
We also note the inclusion of dried peas. Dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.
However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
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 Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food looks like a 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 24% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 54% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.
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 meal, flaxseed and dried peas contained in this recipe and the use of pea protein and soybean meal in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a modest amount of meat.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a modest amount of lamb meal, chicken or chicken meal as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.
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.
Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
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Notes and Updates
05/18/2015 Last Update