Hill’s Science Diet Mature Adult Dry Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2 stars.
The Hill’s Science Diet Mature Adult product line includes four dry dog foods.
Although each formulation appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we found no 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.
- Science Diet Mature Adult Large Breed
- Science Diet Mature Adult Small and Toy Breed
- Science Diet Mature Adult Active Longevity Original
- Science Diet Mature Adult Active Longevity Small Bites
Hill’s Science Diet Mature Adult Active Longevity Small Bites was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Hill's Science Diet Mature Adult Active Longevity Small Bites
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, brown rice, brewers rice, whole grain wheat, whole grain sorghum, whole grain corn, animal fat, liver flavor, soybean oil, corn gluten meal, cracked pearled barley, dried beet pulp, lactic acid, potassium chloride, flaxseed, l-lysine, choline chloride, 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), iodized salt, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), taurine, oat fiber, mixed tocopherols added to retain freshness, citric acid added to retain freshness, l-carnitine, phosphoric acid, beta-carotene, rosemary extract, dried apples, dried broccoli, dried carrots, dried cranberries, dried peas
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 1.7%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||19%||15%||58%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||17%||32%||51%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
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 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 fifth 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 sixth ingredient includes corn. Corn is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as wheat (previously discussed).
The seventh ingredient includes animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.
Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized livestock.
For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.
After the liver flavor, we find soybean oil which 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 next 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.
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, 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.
Next, we find dried peas, 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 actual meat content of this dog food.
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 Mature Adult Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Mature 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 19% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 58% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 78%.
Below-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effects of the corn gluten meal and dried peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a limited amount of meat.
Hill’s Science Diet Mature Adult dog food is a plant-based kibble using only a limited amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2 stars.
Those looking for a review of the rest of the kibbles in this line may wish to visit our review of Hill’s Science Diet Adult dry dog food.
Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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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Notes and Updates
12/28/2009 Original review
08/01/2010 Review updated
11/14/2011 Review updated, no changes
02/17/2013 Review updated
02/17/2013 Last Update