Hill’s Science Diet Puppy dry dog food earns the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.
The Hill’s Science Diet Puppy product line lists six 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 Puppy Large Breed
- Science Diet Puppy Small and Toy Breed
- Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Original
- Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites
- Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Lamb Meal and Rice
- Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Lamb Meal and Rice
Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Lamb Meal and Rice was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Lamb Meal and Rice
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb meal, brewers rice, whole grain wheat, whole grain sorghum, corn gluten meal, brown rice, liver flavor, dried egg product, animal fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), flaxseed, fish oil, lactic acid, potassium chloride, dried beet pulp, l-lysine, iodized salt, soybean oil, sodium tripolyphosphate, minerals (manganese sulfate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), 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), choline chloride, taurine, l-carnitine, mixed tocopherols added to retain freshness, citric acid added to retain freshness, phosphoric acid, beta-carotene, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||16%||47%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||34%||40%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.
The second ingredient includes 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 third 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 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 item 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 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.
After the liver flavor, we find dried egg product, a dehydrated 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.
The ninth item is 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.
The tenth ingredient is flaxseed, 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.
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, fish oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.
Depending on its level of freshness and purity, fish oil should be considered a commendable addition.
Next, 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.
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 Puppy Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Puppy dry 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 30% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 62%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effects of the corn gluten meal, flaxseed and pea protein (contained in some recipes), this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include anonymous animal fat in its recipes. Without this lower quality ingredient, we’d have been compelled to award this line a higher rating.
Hill’s Science Diet Puppy dry dog food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of lamb meal or chicken meal as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.
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
12/30/2009 Original review
08/03/2010 Review updated
05/17/2012 Review updated
02/16/2013 Review updated
02/16/2013 Last Update