This Review Has Been Merged with
Hill’s Science Diet Adult (Dry)
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light dry dog food receives the Advisor’s lowest tier rating of 1.5 stars.
The Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light product line lists four dry dog foods.
Although we found no AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the Hill’s website, each product appears to be designed for weight management (adult maintenance).
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Large Breed
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Small and Toy Breed
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites dry dog food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Hill's Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Ground whole grain corn, soybean mill run, chicken by-product meal, powdered cellulose, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, chicken liver flavor, soybean oil, latic acid, flaxseed, carmel color, iodized salt, l-lysine, choline chloride, potassium chloride, vitamins (l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), vitamin E supplement, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), vitamin E supplement, dicalcium phosphate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), taurine, l-carnitine, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid, phosphoric acid, beta-carotene, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 12.4%
Red items when present 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 corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.
The second item lists 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 third ingredient is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the prime cuts have been removed.
In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except quality skeletal muscle (real meat).
On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The fourth item lists powdered cellulose, a non-digestible plant fiber usually made from the by-products of vegetable processing. Cellulose is sometimes added to dilute the number of calories per serving and to give the feeling of fullness when it is eaten.
Except for the usual benefits of fiber, powdered cellulose provides no nutritional value to a dog.
The fifth item lists 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 many of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.
This inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly boost the total protein content reported in this dog food.
The sixth ingredient is soybean meal. Soybean meal is actually a useful by-product. It’s what remains of soybeans after all the oil has been removed.
Soybean meal contains 48% protein. However, compared to meat, this item is considered an inferior plant-based protein providing a lower biological value.
After the liver flavor, we find soil oil, 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 canola or flaxseed oils.
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 two notable exceptions…
First, we find no evidence of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing.
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 Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light dry dog food appears to be a below-average kibble.
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 9%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 59% for the overall product line.
It should be noted that Hill’s reports a lower carb content of 49.6%. That’s because their figure is computed using NFE basis, which also allows for fiber content.
Below-average protein. Low fat. And above-average carbohydrates when compared to a typical dry dog food.
However, when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten and soybean meals, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light is a plant-based kibble using only a modest amount of chicken by-products meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1.5 stars.
Those looking for information about the rest of the adult product line may wish to visit our review of Hill’s Science Diet Adult dry dog food.
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
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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".
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Notes and Updates
12/27/2009 Original review
08/01/2010 Review updated
11/13/2011 Review updated
02/17/2013 Last Update