Is Hill’s Science Diet a good dog food?
In this review… The Dog Food Advisor takes an in-depth look at Hill’s Science Diet and rates each of its 6 most important sub-brands.
And we’ll also reveal:
- Is Hill’s Science Diet made in the United States?
- Has Science Diet been recalled?
- Which flavors and recipes get our top ratings?
Which Hill’s Science Diet sub-brand is right for you?
Science Diet offers 6 popular sub-brands. We’ll share what makes each one different. So, you can choose the option that best meets your dog’s needs.
Science Diet’s most popular dry kibble. Each recipe is made with grain and optimized specifically for adult nutrition.
- 11 recipes just for small dogs
- 8 options for large breeds
- 4 recipes for sensitive stomach and skin
- Not recommended for puppies
- 26 recipes (ratings vary)
As you can tell by its name, this Science Diet dry sub-brand is designed for dogs who need to lose weight. Recipes are all grain-inclusive.
- Reduced caloric-density for controlled weight loss
- Contains L-carnitine to promote steady weight loss
- 4 recipes (ratings vary)
Who owns Hill’s Science Diet and where is it made?
Hill’s Pet Nutrition is owned by the Colgate-Palmolive Company.
Hill’s Science Diet products are made in the United States. The company operates major facilities in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Topeka and Emporia, Kansas, Richmond, Indiana as well as the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
How does Hill’s maintain the safety and quality of its pet foods?
The following video was produced by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Watching it, of course, is optional. However, we believe the video does an exceptional job of revealing the meticulous nature of the company’s safety and manufacturing practices.
Has Hill’s Science Diet dog food been recalled?
Here are all dog food recalls since 2009 related to Hill’s Science Diet.
- 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)
Review of Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food
Which Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dry Recipes Get
Our Best Ratings?
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Hill’s Science Diet Adult product line includes the 26 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Recipe and Label Analysis
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Chicken Meal and Rice was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.
Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.
Hill's Science Diet Adult Small Paws Chicken Meal and Rice
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, brewers rice, whole grain wheat, soybean meal, whole grain sorghum, chicken fat, cracked pearled barley, whole grain corn, chicken liver flavor, pork liver flavor, flaxseed, lactic acid, soybean oil, green peas, apples, 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), cranberries, potassium chloride, l-lysine, iodized salt, carrots, choline chloride, broccoli, taurine, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), mixed tocopherols for freshness, natural flavors, l-carnitine, beta-carotene
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 1.7%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||25%||16%||51%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||35%||44%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second 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 third ingredient 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 next ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.
Although soybean meal contains 48% 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 actual meat content of this dog food.
The fifth item 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 sixth ingredient is chicken fat. This item 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 seventh ingredient is barley, which 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 next item is corn. Corn is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as wheat (previously discussed).
After the chicken and pork liver flavors, 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.
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 Science Diet product.
With 6 notable exceptions…
First, 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.
Next, we find 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.
In addition, 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.
This recipe also contains sodium selenite, a controversial form of the mineral selenium. Sodium selenite appears to be nutritionally inferior to the more natural source of selenium found in selenium yeast.
We also 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.
Based on 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 24% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 53% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.
Which means this Science Diet product line contains…
Below-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soybean meal, flaxseed and peas in this recipe, and the corn gluten meal contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing just a moderate amount of meat.
Our Rating of Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food
Hill’s Science Diet Adult is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
What Do Others Say About Hill’s Science Diet?
At the time of this update…
Chewy customers rate Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed 4.6 out of 5 stars… and 94% say they would recommend it to others.
Here’s an actual user review…
Sample buyer review… “I’ve tried 2 other brands for our German Shepherd and after 10 months her bathroom business continued to be a mess. So since she was almost a year old I switched her to the Hills Diet. After a couple weeks her poop was noticeably more solid so that we could easily pick it up on walks and in the yard. I think that’s a great barometer to see if her body works well with this food – and it does!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions we get about choosing and feeding Hill’s Science Diet:
How to switch to Hill’s Science Diet… without making your dog sick
In this short video…
Dr. Gary Richter shares a simple feeding tip that can help lower your dog’s risk of getting sick when you switch to any new food… like Hill’s Science Diet.
Is Hill’s Science Diet a healthy dog food?
Every Hill’s Science Diet recipe meets 100% of the canine nutrient requirements recommended by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
Each is considered complete and balanced for the specific life stage indicated on the package… and is based on nutrient standards established by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, in Washington, DC.
How does Hill’s Science Diet puppy food compare to other brands?
Since large breeds are more likely to develop a crippling and permamnent form of hip disease if they’re fed a diet that contains too much calcium, it’s crucial to choose a puppy food that matches your dog’s age and breed size.
Is Hill’s Science Diet good for older dogs?
Science Diet Adult Plus is designed specifically for older dogs. On average, Hill’s dry recipes contain about 21% dry matter protein. And Hill’s wet recipes contain just 22% protein. Unfortunately, these figures are far below-average for most better quality senior brands.
For comparison, visit The Dog Food Advisor’s best senior dog food pages here.
Does Hill’s Science Diet offer any grain-free dog foods?
The overwhelming majority of Science Diet dog foods have grain-inclusive designs. However, Hill’s does produce a limited number of grain-free recipes. For example, you can read our review of Hill’s Science Diet Grain Free Dry here.
More Hill’s Dog Food Reviews
Here are more Hill’s Dog Food reviews currently published by The Dog Food Advisor on this website.
- Hill’s Healthy Advantage Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet B/D Canine Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet C/D Canine Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet D/D Canine Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Derm Complete Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Digestive Care I/D Canine Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet I/D Canine Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Joint Care J/D Canine Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet L/D Canine Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet W/D Canine Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet W/D Canine Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Weight Reduction R/D Canine Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D Canine Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D Canine Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Plus Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Plus Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Science Diet Grain Free Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Cuisine Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food Review (Canned)
- Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food Review (Dry)
Compare Hill’s Science Diet to Other Brands
How does Science Diet compare with The Dog Food Advisor’s most recommended dog and puppy foods?
- Best Dog Foods
- Best Puppy Foods
- Best Dry Puppy Food
- Best Wet Puppy Food
- Best Small Breed Puppy Food
- Best Large Breed Puppy Food
- Best Dry Dog Food
- Best Wet Dog Food
- Best Dog Food for Allergies
- Best Dog Food for Small Dogs
- Best Dog Food for Large Breeds
- Best Grain Free Dog Food
- Best Dog Food with Grain
- Best Fresh-Cooked Dog Food
- Best Raw Dog Food
- Best Organic Dog Food
- Best Senior Dog Foods
- Best Dog Food for Weight Loss
- Best Budget-Friendly Dog Food
- Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach
- Best Low Fat Dog Food
- Best Dog Food for Specific Breeds
A Final Word
The Dog Food Advisor does not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.
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