Hill’s Science Diet Adult (Dry)

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.

The Hill’s Science Diet Adult product line lists 17 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 Oral Care
  • Science Diet Adult Large Breed
  • Science Diet Adult Light (3 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Sensitive Skin
  • Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach
  • Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility (2 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites (3 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Original
  • Science Diet Adult Large Breed Light (3 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Small Bites
  • Science Diet Adult Small and Toy Breed (3 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Small and Toy Breed Light (3 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Small Bites (2 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed (2 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Large Breed Lamb Meal and Rice (3 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Lamb Meal and Rice (3 stars)
  • Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Small Bites Lamb Meal & Rice (3 stars)

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

Protein = 25% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 51%

Ingredients: Chicken, whole grain wheat, brewers rice, whole grain sorghum, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, chicken meal, chicken liver flavor, pork fat, dried beet pulp, soybean oil, lactic acid, flaxseed, potassium chloride, iodized salt, choline chloride, calcium carbonate, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), niacin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), taurine, oat fiber, mixed tocopherols for freshness, phosphoric acid, beta-carotene, natural flavors, dried apples, dried broccoli, dried carrots, dried cranberries, dried peas

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis25%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis25%16%51%
Calorie Weighted Basis21%34%45%

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 brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item 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 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.

The sixth ingredient is corn. Corn is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as wheat (previously discussed).

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 five 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.

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 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 2%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 51%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 24% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 54% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.

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, dried peas and flaxseed contained in this recipe as well as the pea protein and soybean meal in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a below average amount of named meats and meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.

Not recommended.

Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

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.

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

12/27/2009 Original review
08/01/2010 Review updated
11/21/2011 Review updated
02/17/2013 Review updated
11/09/2013 Review updated
11/09/2013 Last Update

  • Heather Shayne

    I feed my two rat terriers SD’s light dry food and haven’t had any issues. Of course they eat just about everything and are both overweight, but I’m working on it. I am going to try Wellness though (better rating) but if I see any issues then I’m going back to SD.

  • robertaruth

    Okay — short of seeing your vet — here’s what I suggest based on my experience. When I first got my dog last year, started with Blue Buffalo Wilderness in transition from the breeder who had been feeding her raw meat based stuff she concocted herself. It was okay for a few months, then she started showing distress signals and very loose stools. Vet put her on Royal Canin dry and she got better, went back to BB again, and after a while she got loose again. Each time I assumed it was something she picked up in the park. I was going to keep her on the RC forever, but vet said it wouldn’t be enough nutrition. Then one day my doorman, of all people, told me about Orijen. I started her on it gradually with the Royal Canin and now all Orijen Regional Red alternating with the basic and the Six Fish. It’s been 10 months now, and she hasn’t been sick since. I know it’s expensive, but even my doorman says the money he saves on vet bills more than makes up for the price, plus the portions recommended are almost half of what the cheaper foods recommend. Best wishes, whatever you decide.

  • robertaruth

    Thanks. I’ve been signed up for DFA and FDA for a long time.

  • sharron

    don’t know where my reply to u ended up – will do it again – lexee hasn’t eaten anything decent, such as orijen, acana or the royal canin dry that i have, even with can and veggies mixed in – it’s been about a day and a half now – the only food she has eaten is about a tbsp of cesar for small dogs dry and that was last night – she’s NOT sick – i’m trying very hard not to give in and feed her the cesar’s but she has to eat something – you can tell she’s hungry with the bile she is bring up – but she is stubborn and i’m trying very hard to be stubborn too

  • Dori

    Upper left hand side of this page is a sign up area for Free Dog Food Alerts. As soon as recalls come out you get an email from DFA letting you know.

  • LabsRawesome

    All I’m saying is just because a food states made in USA or Canada, doesn’t automatically mean that every single ingredient is sourced there.

  • robertaruth

    Stick with the Acana. You can’t go wrong. What you save in Vet bills makes up for the price.

  • robertaruth

    I know for a fact that all Orijen (aka Acana) is sourced and made in U.S. or Canada (you get what you pay for and it does have a 5 star rating).

    I was curious, though, after the FDA Science Diet recall notice, whether it was made in the USA and had difficulty finding that out. So — just thought it might be useful for Dog Food Advisor to pass along that information.

  • LabsRawesome

    You could be feeding your dog chinese ingredients, and not even know it. Just because a food is made in USA, doesn’t mean every single ingredient is sourced in USA, Most if not all vitamin/mineral premixes are made in China. For any food/treat you feed you should contact the manufacturer and specifically ask them if all ingredients used are SOURCED in the US. It can legally state “Made in USA” on the label, and still contain Chinese ingredients.

  • robertaruth

    I just received an FDA recall notice by email that one of the Science Diet products was recalled for salmonella contamination. Not that I would feed my dog this product (I feed her Orijen), but I wonder where is Science Diet Dog Food made? Shouldn’t that information be part of the review information? I would never feed my dog anything from China.

  • Nola Tax

    Try using a grain free food. That eliminated the skin allergies both of my pits had.

  • theBCnut

    Do you have enough of you other food to transition?

  • sharron

    hi – i think i screwed up – bought a bag of science diet, sensitive stomach formula this afternoon – would it be ok for lexee to finish the bag without any issues developing

  • Mandy Wasserman

    I have a 2 year old Great Pyrenees who was getting sick on food after food I tried – and I tried the “good” ones: Merrick, Innova, Blue Buffalo, a couple of others. It didn’t matter – diarrhea and vomiting time after time. My vet recommended HSD for Sensitive Stomachs, and I am happy to say that this is the first food he has done well on. I am supplementing his diet with glucosamine and chondroitin since he is a large breed dog, but otherwise, I mix in a little limited ingredient canned food and he is feeling so much better. It has been a great choice for us, anyway.

  • Charles

    Theu lie and cheat and mistreat

  • Charles

    First amendment right you get blocked and mocked

  • Charles

    I dont know how they sleep at night so much protein is not right

  • Charles

    Iwoner why I did not lie

  • Charles

    He is a scam who pit me in spam

  • Charles

    They block around the clock and mock

  • Charles

    Mikkeee the dentist acts like an apprreenntticce

  • Charlie v

    Editor Mike likes to put me in spam bc he is a scam.
    If you challenge the groupies they will trash you like a Gorilla and chew you up like vanilla

  • Researcher

    This food is bad it contains soy.
    Read how horrible soy is and it is for your Pets too! Stop buying this food until they remove the soy from their formulas. The only line of Hill’s that is natural is Ideal balance which some have no soy so use that if you choose Hill’s. Read the article below on the effects of soy.

    http://freetobemetoo.wordpress.com/

  • Researcher

    Why are people buying this food it contains soy and that is bad for your animal! The reason Vets recommend it is because Hill’s which is the brand, pays for Vet school so Vet’s have to recommend it. This food is bad.

    Read how horrible soy is and it is for your Pets too! Stop buying this food until they remove the soy from their formulas. The only line of Hill’s that is natural is Ideal balance which some have no soy so use that if you choose Hill’s. Read the article below on the effects of soy.

    http://freetobemetoo.wordpress.com/

  • Raven Mom

    My border collie lab mix rescue has a wonderful coat now due to mixing a fish oil capsule in her dinner. It works wonders! I buy mine at 800 Pet Meds.

  • Pet Lover

    Rebekah: You are right on. Vets are in bed with HSD. I have just finished a training session with another company that HSD contracts to go into stores and sell this pet food. They admitted this on one of the videos I watched. It much the same as drug companies and medical doctors. I wouldn’t feed my cat this food and cannot sell it either. It could even contain GMOs with the corn as one of the ingredients. They don’t care about the food humans eat let alone our beloved pets. Needless to say, after watching this video I have decided to decline this job and I need a job very bad at this point.

  • melanie

    I used to feed my dogs between nutranugget and iams when they were younger (bad i know) but when my german shephard hit 7 she started to have a hard time getting up because of her hips. I took her to the vet and had xrays done, she had early stages hip dysplasia. My vet wanted to put her on different medications but i refused all except pain meds…when i came home i researched and found SD active longetivity, i began feeding my dog this for a year and when i took her for a checkup her hips showed improvement on the xrays. i had already noticed improvement at home because she didnt whimper when she got up, pain medication was stopped after 3 months, and she could run laps around the park. Regardless, my dogs are now 11 and my shepherd no longer has progressive hip dysplasia and can still run full speed with no pain getting up. The SD didn’t change anything in my other dog, but I fully believe it affects each dogs differently. Be it the best food or the worse, it is how the dogs body responds to it.

  • aimee

    Hi Aleksandra,

    Large breed adult dogs do not have unique calcium requirements compared to other breeds. The adult lamb and rice is 1.01% Ca, 76% Ph

    In regards to Large breed growth it is recommended that Calcium be at approx 1%. S.D large breed growth is 1.07-1.09.

    Though Science diet doesn’t score highly with some people, I’m open to the idea that veterinary and PhD nutritionists evaluate diets differently and many give S.D. high marks.

    I’ve also found that when zoos choose a commercial food to feed, it is often Hill’s products that are chosen.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Whatever damage was done during growth by this food is done. Adult dogs can regulate their calcium uptake, so calcium is not the problem now, but if you see continuing deterioration, it’s because of the damage already done and the nutrition that isn’t supporting the dogs current needs.

  • Aleksandra Ninova

    Does anyone know what the calcium percentage in the adult Science Diet is and what is the appropriate percentage for large breed adult dogs? My roommate (to my sadness) feeds his lab-hound mix the Science Diet, currently Lamb Meal and Rice, but his dog has been on it since an 8-week-old puppy. The dog’s name is Casey and she is a little over 3 years old now. Recently I noticed her back legs looking different, almost starting to be cow hocked, but if it is the case, it is in a very early stage. I am wondering if the calcium/phosphorous levels in her diet are the problem. She doesn’t get supplements, except some fish treats (not fish skins or fish fillets though, but I don’t know what brand her treats are).

    I have been DYING to tell him about this site and how terrible the Science Diet is compared to other “popular” foods, but he is very… particular… and would not care to even look into it. His vet has even suggested this website, as well as other foods, like Blue Buffalo and Addiction (I took a peek at Casey’s latest vet visit scorecard/report), but he thinks he knows best that the Science Diet is the best…

  • Anita Pierson

    royal canin is a very expensive, Average dry dog food. look at the ingredients people…. if alot of corn, rice , etc….NOT GOOD

  • lynda

    try a food without flaxseed in the ingredient list. It turned out once we went to a different food without flax
    all itching stopped almost immediately

  • Ariana

    the reason why hills and science diet same in my opinion is hard as a rock its coverd in polyerathing they dont list it but its in there try feeding her a no grain kibble if you cant affored wet and sience diet hills made my dachshund viontly sick the last time i feed it it also mad my cats sick

  • Guest

    the reason why hills and science diet <same in my opinion is hard as a rock its coverd in polyerathing they dont list it but its in there try feeding her a no grain kibble if you cant affored wet and sience diet hills made my dachshund viontly sick the last time i feed it it also mad my cats sick :/

  • Shawna

    Dry food is the worst option for healthy let alone ill pets in my opinion. Kibble is generally harder to digest and the quality is significantly reduced as compared to a home prepared (balanced) diet.

    Although still not as healthy as a balanced homemade diet, the canned food is a much better option than the kibble.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I use coconut oil every day for my dogs, but I would never issue a blanket recommendation that every dog regardless of size should get 1 tablespoon of the stuff. I recommend 1 teaspoon for every 20 lbs of body weight. BTW, cocnut oil hasn’t kept my dogs’ teeth clean either, but I love what it has done for their coats, and a raw meaty bone takes care of the teeth.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Because they don’t use quality ingredients to formulate their food.

  • Ann Davis

    Feed you dog a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil each day. This will clean the teeth and kill bacteria.
    After about 2 weeks scrape the teeth and they will be completely clean. My Standard Poodle loves the taste.

  • Ann Davis

    My12 yr old standard poodle has been on
    Science Diet her whole life . She became ill and was diagnoised with some liver failure. She starting refusing the Science Diet…I have been cooking her a special diet, ,but the vet and I would love to see her back on her dried food. She did eat a few bites and threw it up.. After trying to break the food up with a hammer but with no luck. ,After using my coffee grinder some dried food was added to the cooked food,… she still wouldn’t try it. Why is the dried food so hard . It would have to be hard to digest. Sould I try her on the can food , to make sure she is getting all the nutrients she needs? i haven’t discussed this with my vet.

  • Carrie Bowsher

    why wouldn’t you use it long term?

  • neezerfan

    One option would be to try the food and see how it goes. Hopefully a relatively short term use of it can eliminate your dog’s allergy symptoms. Then you can add back one ingredient at a time to tell what she’s allergic to and what she can tolerate. I would not use it long term.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Chicken by-product is pieces parts of chicken, not nearly as likely to cause allergy symptoms as chicken or rice or lamb. If they both have rice, then it may be that or it may be chicken and rice and that’s why it got some better. That was the case with my dog, he has multiple intolerances.

  • Carrie Bowsher

    I will try that. At first she was just on Iams regular adult and that is the one she was really going after herself, Chewing and scratching. The lamb and rice has calmed it down a bit but she still itches. I am wondering if all the talk about Chicken By product is the main reason for allergies? I have looked the the ingredients in the sensitive HSD diet and it doesn’t look like there is anything in there that has chicken by product. I am going to try it and see what happens. Thanks for your response!

  • Pattyvaughn

    I would take the ingredient list from her current food with me to the store and try to find a food that has none of the food ingredients in common. I wouldn’t worry about the vitamins, minerals, etc., but I wouldn’t get a food that had lamb or rice or any other major ingredient of the food that she isn’t doing well on.

  • Carrie Bowsher

    I have an adopted Border Collie/ Lab mix. This is my first time with this breed being a German Shepard
    owner for 13 years. I was also a vet tech for 10 years. My German Shepherd thankfully never had allergies but with this 1 year old Border Collie lab mix she has allergies beyond belief. She has hair loss on her back legs and inner legs. She drops hair all over the place. I can tell she has some sort of dermatitis. I am still very good friends with the Vet that I worked with. She has told me to try HSD sensitive skin. I see a lot of good reviews about it. It is expensive but Maggie (my dog) needs relief. She is currently eating Iams Lamb and rice. I am hoping this sensitive skin works. What do you think about this food?

  • Rebekah

    Thank you – yes we have thank goodness

  • InkedMarie

    I’m sorry about your dog. I hope you’ve found another vet.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Keep ingredient list of foods that you have used for them and take notes on how each individual does on each food and hopefully some day you will be able to figure out what they are reacting to.

  • Rebekah

    I want to also add this vet was pushing us to have a $500 dental cleaning in the midst of paying over $1,000 in testing and treating her for cancer. Who in their right mind would even put their dog through a sedated procedure when she was given only weeks to live??!!! To go through the trauma of seeing your dog with cancer and to argue over unnecessary dental procedures and crap food really created apprehension in regards to the intent of this vet. It’s difficult to find quality healthcare for your pets today. It has turned into a big business and they play on the hearts of the owners. Like others have stated if you do care about your furry family members please stay away from this company. I don’t like to publicly express negative thoughts but I am passionate about this and hope anyone proceeds with caution if they decide to feed their dogs Science Diet

  • Rebekah

    STAY AWAY from this food!! This is just my opinion but I do have some strong thoughts that VETS are in bed with this company! Yes I said it – every single person that I know that has fed their dogs this food has had some major health problems. When my last dog was diagnosed with cancer at 11 years of age the vet told me I should immediately switch her onto Science Diet from her 5 star rated Annamaet. Needless to say that vet has lost our business and any future one that even hints towards this product I will immediately dismiss. Science Diet = lots of trips and money towards the vet. I firmly believe this is why they promote this product.

  • karen

    We Have Two Dogs who Are HavE SEveRe Skin Allergies. We Are Trying Science Diet And It Seems To Help. Just Thought I Would Share….

  • Pingback: More poodle or bichon or what? - Page 2 - Poodle Forum - Standard Poodle, Toy Poodle, Miniature Poodle Forum ALL Poodle owners too!

  • Dan

    People -
    I was raised in South America. Where I used to live, there were only two kinds of dog food at the store. You either got that one, or that one. There were no other choices. Our dogs lived long and happy lives. Table scraps also were part of thier diet.
    Here in America we have too many choices and opinions. I like that. But we have to be more simplistic.
    I usually go to the park with my two great danes. I ask other dog owners what are they feeding their puppies, especially those that look healthy. You will be surprised. Most don’t feed high quality foods. They feed the brands what Pertsmart or Petco offer. Or Sams or Costco. Even Walmart.
    I’m currently feeding Fromm mixed with Hills SD large breed. That works for me. Just yesterday I visited Petsmart and there was a beautiful, show dane at the store. What the owner feeds him? Purina One. He told me that his dane did not do good with Blue Buffalo.
    So go figure….I decided not to go crazy with 10,000 reviews and opinions. BTW, I mixed dog foods frequently: 50% high quality, 50 % medium quality. My danes love the new flavors and look very healthy, active!!!

  • Nathan Castaneda

    What makes me sick is that all my dog’s live long lives and then something shuts down at the end of their lives. A friend I have known since college, well, her pets have only died of old age. She is a one brand woman. She only feeds her dogs and cats HSD. I just lost a dog to pancreatic cancer and I had him on Innova for years. Ingredients, I have come to learn, are worthless if not properly portioned. Here is what she said to me, “You can feed then HSD now and they can live long healthy lives or you can continue to feed your dogs foods that claim to be the best only to have something go wrong and put them on Prescription Science Diet later. Eventually you will feed them some form of HSD because no one can touch them. They are the most advanced and have the very best scientist in pet nutrition working for them.” After 20 years, I think I will take her advice.