Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Hill’s Science Diet Puppy product line lists five dry recipes, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for growth.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed
- Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small and Toy Breed
- Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Original
- Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites
- Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Lamb Meal and Rice
Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Hill's Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, whole grain wheat, pork meal, whole grain corn, whole grain sorghum, corn gluten meal, pork fat, chicken liver flavor, dried beet pulp, fish oil, lactic acid, flaxseed, pork liver flavor, soybean oil, dicalcium phosphate, iodized salt, potassium chloride, 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), 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) = 1.8%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||30%||20%||42%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||40%||35%|
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 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 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 pork meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork. Yet it can also be high in ash — about 25-30%.
However, the ash content of the final product is typically adjusted in the recipe to allow its mineral profile to meet AAFCO guidelines.
The fifth ingredient is corn. Corn is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as wheat (previously discussed).
The sixth 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 seventh 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 eighth ingredient is 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.
After the chicken liver flavor, we find beet pulp. 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.
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, 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, 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.
In addition, 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.
This recipe also contains some 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 Puppy Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Puppy looks like an 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 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-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, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Hill’s Science Diet Puppy is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb meals 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.
Dog Food Recall History
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.
- Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food Market Withdrawal of November 2015 (11/29/2015)
- Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food Recall June 2014 (6/3/2014)
To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.
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A Final Word
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.
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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".
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Notes and Updates
05/07/2015 Last Update