Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Hill’s Science Diet Adult product line includes the 17 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Use the links below to compare prices and package sizes at an online retailer.
- Science Diet Adult Light [M]
- Science Diet Adult Oral Care (2.5 stars) [M]
- Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites [M]
- Science Diet Adult Large Breed Light [M]
- Science Diet Adult Small Paws Light [M]
- Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken and Barley (2.5 stars) [M]
- Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Small Bites (2.5 stars) [M]
- Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed (2.5 stars) [M]
- Science Diet Adult Chicken and Barley (2.5 stars) [M]
- Science Diet Adult Lamb Meal and Brown Rice [M]
- Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin (4 stars) [M]
- Science Diet Adult Small Paws Lamb Meal and Brown Rice [M]
- Science Diet Adult Small Paws Chicken Meal and Rice [M]
- Science Diet Adult Large Breed Lamb Meal and Brown Rice [M]
- Science Diet Adult Small Bites Chicken and Barley (2.5 stars) [M]
- Science Diet Adult Small Bites Lamb Meal and Brown Rice [M]
- Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin Small and Mini (4 stars) [M]
Science Diet Adult Small Paws Lamb Meal and Brown Rice was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Science Diet Adult Small Paws Lamb Meal and Brown Rice
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb meal, brown rice, brewers rice, whole grain sorghum, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, chicken fat, cracked pearled barley, chicken liver flavor, dried beet pulp, soybean oil, flaxseed, lactic acid, pork liver flavor, 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, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), l-lysine, choline chloride, calcium carbonate, taurine, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), mixed tocopherols for freshness, natural flavors, beta-carotene
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 1.6%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||17%||52%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||21%||35%||45%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.
The second 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 third ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The next 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 fifth item is wheat. Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider wheat a preferred component in any dog food.
The sixth 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 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.
The next item 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.
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 6 notable exceptions…
First, 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.
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.
In addition, 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.
Next, we note the use of taurine, an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.
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. Chelated minerals are usually associated with higher quality dog foods.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Adult looks like an average dry kibble.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 25% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 53% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Which means this Science Diet product line contains…
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.
More Top Picks
Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Science Diet. 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)
A Final Word
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
Notes and Updates
10/04/2019 Last Update