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 2 canned dog foods.
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.
Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.
Click the links below to compare prices at an online retailer.
- Hill’s Ideal Balance Slow Cooked Chicken and Zucchini Stew [M]
- Hill’s Ideal Balance Roasted Beef and Zucchini Stew (2.5 stars) [M]
Hill’s Ideal Balance Slow Cooked Chicken and Zucchini Stew was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.
Ideal Balance Slow Cooked Chicken and Zucchini Stew
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken broth, chicken, pork liver, zucchini, carrots, green peas, rice, rice starch, powdered cellulose, sunflower oil, chicken liver flavor, potassium alginate, flaxseed, calcium chloride, dicalcium phosphate, guar gum, calcium lactate, calcium gluconate, monosodium phosphate, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), choline chloride, magnesium oxide, cranberries, taurine, sodium tripolyphosphate, minerals (zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate), apples, broccoli
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.7%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||18%||45%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||38%||38%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.
The second ingredient is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1
Chicken is naturally rich in the 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 zucchini. Zucchini is a type of squash high in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
The fifth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The sixth ingredient lists peas. 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.
The seventh ingredient is rice. Is this whole grain rice, brown rice or white rice? Since the word “rice” doesn’t tell us much, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.
The eighth ingredient is rice starch, a starchy powder extracted from rice and most likely used here as a thickening agent.
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, we find powdered cellulose, a non-digestible plant fiber usually made from the by-products of vegetable processing. Except for the usual benefits of fiber, powdered cellulose provides no nutritional value to a dog.
Next, sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.
Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.
There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.
In addition, we find 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.
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 Ideal Balance Canned Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Ideal Balance Dog Food 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 27% and a mean fat level of 20%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 46% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 74%.
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 peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing just a modest amount of meat.
However, with 38% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 24% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal.
Hill’s Ideal Balance is a meat-based canned dog food using a modest 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
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 Prescription Diet and Science Diet Dog Food Recall Expands to Include 44 Varieties (3/20/2019)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet and Science Diet Dog Food Recall (1/31/2019)
- 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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Important FDA Alert
The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free recipes and dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
01/19/2018 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩