Hill’s Ideal Balance Crafted Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Product May Have Been Discontinued
Unable to Locate Complete Label Info
On Company Website1

Hill’s Ideal Balance Crafted Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.

The Hill’s Ideal Balance Crafted product line lists three dry 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.

  • Ideal Balance Crafted Roasted Beef, Peas and Buckwheat [M]
  • Ideal Balance Crafted Pacific Style Trout and Mixed Vegetables [M]
  • Ideal Balance Crafted Grain Free Herbed Chicken and Chickpeas [M]

Hill’s Ideal Balance Crafted Pacific Style Trout and Mixed Vegetables was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Hill's Ideal Balance Crafted Pacific Style Trout and Mixed Vegetables

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 23% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 55%

Ingredients: Trout, cracked pearled barley, yellow peas, whole grain oats, pea protein, chicken meal, chicken fat, chicken liver flavor, brown rice, oatmeal, powdered cellulose, dried beet pulp, parsley, canola oil, calcium carbonate, malted barley, flaxseed, choline chloride, green peas, carrots, potassium chloride, iodized salt, 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), cranberries, taurine, mixed tocopherols for freshness, minerals (zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate), apples, broccoli, zucchini, citric acid for freshness, beta-carotene, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.6%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis23%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis23%14%55%
Calorie Weighted Basis21%31%49%
Protein = 21% | Fat = 31% | Carbs = 49%

The first ingredient in this dog food is trout, a freshwater species closely related to salmon. Trout is rich rich in omega-3 fatty acids but also contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

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 includes yellow 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 fourth ingredient lists oats. Oats are rich in B-vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The fifth ingredient is 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.

The sixth ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The seventh ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

After the chicken liver flavor, we find 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.

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, powdered cellulose is 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, this recipe includes 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.

In addition, this food contains canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.

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.

We also note the inclusion of green 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.

Next, 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 Ideal Balance Crafted Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Ideal Balance Crafted Dog Food looks like an above-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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 23%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 55%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 23% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 55% 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 dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the yellow and green peas, pea protein and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Hill’s Ideal Balance Crafted is a plant-based dry dog food using a limited amount of trout, chicken or beef as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.

Not recommended.

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.

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Special FDA Alert

The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and a type of canine heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.

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Notes and Updates

02/02/2018 Last Update

  1. “Last Update” field at the end of this review reflects the last time we attempted to visit this product’s website. The current review itself was last updated 7/16/2016