Hill’s Science Diet Adult (Canned)


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Hill’s Science Diet Adult canned dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Hill’s Science Diet Adult product line includes 12 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.

  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Beef and Barley Entree [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light with Liver (1 star) [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken and Barley Entree [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken and Beef Entree (2 stars) [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Turkey and Barley Entree (2 stars) [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin (2 stars) [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Savory Stew with Beef and Vegetables [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Savory Stew with Chicken and Vegetables [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light with Liver Small and Toy Breed (1 star) [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Small and Toy Adult Chicken and Barley Entree (2.5 stars) [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Small and Toy Adult Savory Stew with Beef and Vegetables [M]
  • Hill’s Science Diet Small and Toy Adult Savory Stew with Chicken and Vegetables [M]

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Savory Stew with Beef and Vegetables was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Hill's Science Diet Adult Savory Stew with Beef and Vegetables

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 21% | Carbs = 43%

Ingredients: Water, beef, liver, brown rice, carrots, rice starch-modified, wheat flour, potato starch, pork plasma, dried beet pulp, potatoes, dextrose, chicken fat, peas, chicken liver flavor, spinach, calcium carbonate, soybean oil, ground flaxseed, potassium chloride, sodium phosphate, caramel (added color), guar gum, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, manganous sulfate, potassium iodide), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, folic acid), choline chloride, taurine, l-lysine monohydrochloride, iron oxide (added color)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 1.9%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis29%21%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%21%43%
Calorie Weighted Basis24%41%35%
Protein = 24% | Fat = 41% | Carbs = 35%

The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.

The second ingredient is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

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

The third ingredient is liver. Normally, liver can be considered a quality component. However, in this case, the source of the liver is not identified. For this reason, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.

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

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

The seventh ingredient is wheat flour, a highly-refined product of wheat milling. 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 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 eight notable exceptions

First, we note the inclusion of 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.

Next, 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.

In addition, this foods contains 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, 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.

We also note the use of 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.

Next, 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.2

And iron oxide is a synthetic color additive used in industry to impart a reddish color to food — and paint. In its natural form, this chemical compound is more commonly known as “iron rust”.

We’re always disappointed to find any artificial 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, 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
Adult Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Adult canned dog food looks like a below-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 29%, a fat level of 21% and estimated carbohydrates of about 43%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 65%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and flaxseed in this recipe and the corn gluten and soybean meals and pea protein contained in some others, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing just a moderate amount of meat.

However, with 41% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 24% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal.

Bottom line?

Hill’s Science Diet Adult is a meat-based canned dog food using a moderate amount of named meats and named by-products 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 Science Diet 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.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

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A Final Word

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We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

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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

11/10/2016 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Consumer Reports February 2014
  • Dori

    There’s a Hill’s “rep” on the post that Mike put up today about it and she/he (can’t remember gender), K9 Jeeper, that it was a labeling issue about nutrition, not the food itself. I commented that why didn’t they just say so in the first place when they started pulling the cans. Would have saved a lot of people worry and hysteria and money. I don’t feed any of their foods ever but if I did, my first instinct would have been to throw the food away asap. Money wasted.

  • Pitlove

    Yes, I agree that this is all very strange. Hopefully Hill’s will provide some answers, but I might have to hold my breath.

  • Pitlove

    Yeah we have a limited amount of Science Diet that we stock. We might only carry one of those canned foods if any, so I doubt we’re going to be effected.

  • Dori

    C4C, I was wondering the same thing. Not in the recall section I guess because it’s not labeled yet as an actual recall but it would have been nice to see some mention of it as a lot of people do feed that to their animals.

  • Dori

    I think you’re correct Pitlove. It’s a voluntary “removal” of certain canned foods in their Science Diet line. What’s weird is that it’s not just one formula but many. And, yes, this is their way to avoid an actual “recall”. Unfortunately I fear that a lot of people using the food will never hear about it unless they belong to some of the dog sites and FB groups. I know of others that work in pet stores and with vets and so far as I know none of them have been notified. Scandalous to say the least. What is really troubling is that no one knows why or what is wrong with these foods because Hills hasn’t announced it yet or may never. I think it’s how they get around a lot of stuff that they do and then hope that no one is the wiser.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hmmm? Does your store carry this brand? If yes, were they notified of a possible problem?

  • DogFoodie

    No, it’s not a recall yet. It’s their way of avoiding a recall.

  • Pitlove

    It’s very hard to tell if this is an actual recall or not. Perhaps that’s why?

  • Crazy4cats

    I wonder why this site hasn’t announced it yet?

  • DogFoodie

    I was going to put it in the forums, but couldn’t find a thread to put it in and didn’t want to start a new one. Glad you put it there, too. 🙂

  • Dori

    Didn’t realize you had posted this DogFoodie. I just put up a post on the Forum side. Should have looked here first. Should have known one of you conscientious posters would have already been on it! Sorry.

  • DogFoodie

    A voluntary withdrawal of several varieties of Hill’s Science Diet canned foods has just been issued.


  • JudyandSam Simpson Norris

    You should gradually switch over to a Grain Free food. That will help the skin condition tremendously !!!!! Did on mine !!!!!

  • Pingback: Canned Dog Food Choices | Healthier Dog()

  • Not all grains are created equal. Some of them are beneficial to dogs, as dogs do have the capability to digest some carbs.

    You’re forgetting that dogs get a balanced diet in the wild by eating the whole carcass from an animal. Not just it’s meat, but also things like bone, organs, and skin. Those things are not available in kibble, and therefore need to be made up for somehow… that’s where some carbs come in.

    And many high quality dog foods DO have grains or carbs in them. You have to have a carbohydrate in kibble, otherwise you couldn’t make kibble in the first place.

    Oh, and dogs and cats are not the same. You are lumping them together as carnivores, but they are not the same. Cats are obligate or “true” carnivores, meaning they should live on an animal-based diet. Dogs, on the other hand, or facultative or opportunistic carnivores, and can in fact digest and get nutrients from non-animal based foods like grains. Grains can cause issues in dogs, but not to ALL dogs. As a matter of fact, wild dogs have been found to eat fruits when they are short on prey.

    I’m not saying SD is good… not one bit. Just clearing up the fact that a meat-only diet for a dog is NOT complete and balanced, and that not all grains/carbs are “junk”.

  • Roger Biduk

    Hello Frank,
    No anger here, only great sadness for pets who are fed this junk and you’re wrong on many counts. I guess by saying “the food is high quality and natural“ means different thing to different people… I would certainly never, ever describe any Hill’s products this way.

    While I can’t comment on these people who seem angry to you, many of them simply understand ingredients and what they do to cats/dogs.
    The ingredients in Hills products are among the cheapest and worst. They have just put out a grain-free product which is at the very low end, with three of the first four ingredients being cheap starches which are horrible for cats/dogs and are responsible for causing all sorts of illness and disease (similar to grains). Contains powdered cellulose (cardboard) and dried beet pulp, cheap sugar-based garbage filler along with iodized salt and Phosphoric Acid.

    Beside Hill’s products getting caught and recalled by the FDA in 2007 in the Melamine
    Pet Food Poisoning Scandal, here’s the ingredients in the Ideal Balance Adult that should be avoided at all costs:

    Brown Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Soybean Meal, Pork, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Whole Grain Oats, Soybean Oil and Phosphoric Acid.

    Dogs are carnivores and must be fed a meat-based diet, having absolutely no need for carbohydrates derived from grains.
    There’s only two meat ingredients in this stuff with chicken being the first. The best commercial kibble contains up to eleven meat/fish ingredients!
    However, chicken is 75.6% water. So when the water evaporated from the heat of making
    the kibble, the actual chicken that is left is minimal so basically this is a cheap, grain-based, carbohydrate pet food containing four garbage grain ingredients (three of the first four ingredients).

    A dog’s nutritional need for carbs is ZERO, yet Hill’s Ideal Balance contains a mind-boggling 51% carbohydrates!

    Brown Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley and Whole Grain Oats – Pure junk. Waste products, very poor protein sources. These are used as most other grains would be in pet food – as cheap
    fillers/ingredients to boost protein levels instead of using high quality meat sources and are very harmful to dogs and cats.

    A highly processed, grain-based diet fed to a cat/dog that is designed to thrive on a meat-based, fresh food diet is very likely to produce symptoms of ill health over time. Diets to address disease most frequently deal with the symptoms that are the result of a lifetime of inappropriate food, not the true cause of their symptoms.

    Many holistic vets say that grain cause most, if not all of the degenerative diseases that pet owners spend thousands of dollars to try and cure.
    Grains used that are truly whole have usually been deemed unfit for human consumption because of mold, contaminants, poor quality
    or poor handling practices, which is obvious by the fact that most pet food recalls are the result of toxic grain products

    Soybean Meal, Soybean oil – Waste product. usually not fit for human consumption. Major source of pet allergies and a host of other very serious problems in cats and dogs.

    Found in very low quality pet foods that use cheap soy instead of more expensive meat as a protein source/filler. Indicates a very
    poor quality product.

    Soy is estrogenic and wreaks havoc on your pet’s endocrine system.

    Dried Egg Product – Waste product, pure junk. Cheap source of protein, waste product of egg industry, can contain undeveloped and diseased eggs, floor sweepings, rotten shells, etc. Not fit for human consumption.
    Pet foods containing quality ingredients never, ever use dried egg product in any of their foods. They only uses fresh, whole eggs.

    Phosphoric Acid – A sequestering agent for rendered animal fats — implies poor quality
    fats are used, source of phosphorous.
    A clear colorless liquid, H3PO4, used in fertilizers, detergents, food flavoring, and pharmaceuticals.used in inexpensive, poor quality dog food as flavoring, emulsifier and discoloration inhibitor. Used for example as a flavoring for Coca Cola.

    Pork fat – Usually not fit for human consumption, mused in cheap pet foods instead of chicken fat. See Phosphoric Acid above.

    Natural flavor – anyone’s guess what this is.

    All of the above ingredients are not a part of a natural diet of a carnivore and must be avoided.
    Pet foods containing quality ingredients never, ever use any of these ingredients in their products!

    You will never, ever find any of these ingredients in high quality commercially available pet foods, nor will you ever find them in healthy recipes for homemade pet meals.
    Where you’ll find them are in very affordable,
    highly processed, low-quality pet foods.

    I would give Hill’s Ideal Balance a rating of ZERO stars… but anyone can feed their cat/dog what they see fit.

    As far as you saying I have to be “loving and caring”, I obviously am by not feeding this garbage to my cats/dogs nor would I ever
    think of recommending this kind of stuff to my clients… I would like nothing more than your dogs to have a long and healthy life with absolutely no visits to the vets as mine have.

    Best regards and good luck, Roger Biduk

  • Frank

    Funny how all the very irate people go on Hill’s products and post angry comments. I happily say I love the new Ideal Balance, the food is high quality and natural. My dogs live to very old age, none ever had cancer. I have read several posts from people whose dogs lived to be very old on Hill’s. That is why I started to use it in the first place. You have to be loving and caring, not an angry person and your dogs will thrive for 18+ years

  • All products made by Hill’s are among the worst out there. Extremely rare of dogs living to an old age on this garbage.

    This review isn’t any good, should be no stars.He doesn’t red-flag liver (generic name), potato starch, pork plasma and I can only imagine quaity of the “beef” in this garbage.

  • InkedMarie

    If you’re in the US and ok with ordering food, go to http://www.BrothersComplete.   It’s a dog food from Florida. While on the website, click to read the Brothers Document (in the center of the page, on top) about yeast. I am new to Brothers, like what I see so far. Click on Brothers here on DFA, read what people have to say. 

  • The-baglady

    so sorry for your loss.  what kind of skin condition?  I have a 7 yr. minature schnauzer who is having a horrible yeast infection with greasy skin/hair. being treated with terbinafine and seems to be working some.  He has another 4 days left but was hoping he would have improved alot more by now.  I’m a worrier but my new  holistic vet seems pretty positive things will be ok.  I think the yeast started from his being alergic to flea saliva and I didn’t start the comfortis soon enough this spring so he had lots of fleas. I’ve been feeding Hills KD but am wanting to switch to a higher protein food since he really doesn’t have kidney problems as first suspected when he was 1 yr. old but didn’t want to upset him by switching food then. i hope my winston can live as long as your muffin. My heart goes out to you with your loss.

  • Ispangl

    for about twenty years i have been feedinghills diat for adults to my dogs. muffin was 18 years and 5 month old, and had to be put to sleep because of a skin condition, otherwise she was in perfect health.
    sophie which is 12 now and has no problem, has eaten the same food. so i will stay with hill’s diat do not see any issue with it.