Hill’s Ideal Balance Dog Food (Canned)


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Hill’s Ideal Balance canned dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Hill’s Ideal Balance product line includes eight canned recipes.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Slim and Healthy (2.5 stars) [M]
  • HIll’s Ideal Balance Braised Lamb and Vegetables [M]
  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Tender Chicken and Vegetables [M]
  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Roasted Turkey and Vegetables [M]
  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Slow Cooked Beef and Vegetables [M]
  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Beef and Roasted Zucchini Stew (2.5 stars) [M]
  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Chicken and Zucchini Stew Adult (2.5 stars) [M]
  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Chicken and Zucchini Stew Adult 7+ (2.5 stars) [M]

Hill’s Ideal Balance Braised Lamb and Vegetables was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Hill's Ideal Balance Braised Lamb and Vegetables

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 34% | Fat = 25% | Carbs = 34%

Ingredients: Beef broth, lamb, pork liver, chicken, brown rice, carrots, modified rice starch, potato starch, pork plasma, dextrose, potatoes, pea fiber, pea protein, peas, flaxseed, chicken liver flavor, spinach, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, sodium phosphate, guar gum, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, folic acid), choline chloride, caramel color, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), beta carotene

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis34%25%NA
Dry Matter Basis34%25%34%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%47%26%
Protein = 27% | Fat = 47% | Carbs = 26%

The first ingredient in this dog food is beef broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.

The second ingredient is lamb. Lamb is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” lamb and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Lamb is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The third ingredient is pork liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fourth ingredient is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.2

Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The fifth 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 sixth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The seventh ingredient is rice starch, a starchy powder extracted from rice and most likely used here as a thickening agent.

The eighth ingredient is potato starch. Potato starch is a gluten-free carbohydrate used more for its thickening properties than its nutritional value.

The ninth ingredient is pork plasma. Plasma is what remains of blood after the blood cells themselves have been removed. Plasma can be considered a nutritious addition.

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 seven notable exceptions

First, dextrose is a crystallized form of glucose — with a flavor significantly sweeter than common table sugar. It is typically used in pet food as a sweetener and as an agent to help develop browning.

Without knowing a healthy reason for its inclusion here, dextrose (like most sugars) can be considered a nutritionally unnecessary addition to this recipe.

Next, we find pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.

In addition, we note the use of pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

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 meat content of this dog food.

We also find peas in this recipe. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

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, caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.

However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.3

In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.

That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

And lastly, with the exception of copper, 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 Ideal Balance Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Ideal Balance looks like an average wet 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 34%, a fat level of 24.5% and estimated carbohydrates of about 34%.

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 62%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea products and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing just a moderate amount of meat.

However, with 47% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 27% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal.

Bottom line?

Hill’s Ideal Balance is a meat-based canned dog food using a moderate amount of named meats 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.

Hill’s 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.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

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.

We rely entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

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.

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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".

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.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

07/19/2016 Last Update

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  3. Consumer Reports February 2014
  • Crazy4cats

    Yes, I’m right there with you. I like to check out a company’s website as well. They usually have a lot of easy to read valuable information. I’m thinking about trying out bifocal contacts next eye exam! Maybe then I’ll be able to read those darn canned cat food labels. Lol!

  • Dori

    C4C. I always try to go to the websites and check things out there. Those labels on the foods in the stores are so tiny and sometimes so many ingredients I feel I might miss something. My eyes aren’t quite what they used to be. Not too mention it takes so long going through the different foods and their ingredients especially if you have a dog with sensitivities and your trying to make sure to avoid them.

  • Crazy4cats

    I checked Hill’s website and it looks like only about 1/3 of this particular line of canned food contains the carrageenan. You’re not blind! I know I feel blind when I try to read the labels at the store though.

  • Laura Kenny

    You failed to mention the ingredient called carrageenan which is a thickening agent in tin foods( not all brands use) it cause inflammation of the stomach and cancer in dogs it’s in slim and healthy and most likely all hills science formulas… I’ver that or I’m totally blind and over looked it in your review…

  • charged99

    My Boston Terrier loves there new flavors and her stools are no longer loose. She was on Merrick for 3 years and had kind of loose stools since I switched her after one week her stools are more formed. So I am happy about this.

  • Mandy Wasserman

    My Great Pyrenees has a sensitive stomach and now eats this food combined with the Hills for Sensitive Stomachs/skin. This is the first combo that has agreed with him – no more diarrhea & vomiting, and he actually loves the food.

  • InkedMarie

    I don’t recommend this food either but I’m sure many dogs eat it without diarrhea.

  • Kim

    My dog had diarrhea after she ate this food. I wouldn’t recommend it.

  • Mason

    Oops it does. My bad

    …Supposed to be all natural though. My dogs like it.

  • Mason

    It doesn’t have carmel color in it. Update your info, please.

  • Pattyvaughn

    The turkey had chicken and pork in it. The lamb had chicken, beef, and pork in it. They all have multiple animal sources in them. Oh well. They couldn’t go in my rotation anyway, but I keep hoping I’ll see something that I consider a redeeming quality, since people will be in a giant hurry to use this food.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I’m going to have to look this up to see if all of them have as many different animal proteins in each type.