Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best (Dry)


Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆


Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of three stars.

The Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best product line includes six dry dog foods… four designed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and two for growth and reproduction.

  • Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best Adult Small Bites (Chicken)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best Adult Small Bites (Lamb)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best Puppy (Chicken)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best Adult (Chicken)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best Puppy (Lamb)
  • Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best Adult (Lamb)

Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best Lamb and Brown Rice Adult Small Bites dog food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Hill's Science Diet Nature's Best Lamb and Brown Rice Adult Small Bites

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 25% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 51%

Ingredients: Lamb, brewers rice, cracked pearled barley, soybean meal, brown rice, dried egg product, lamb meal, pork fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), soybean oil, powdered cellulose, natural flavor, whole grain oats, apples, cranberries, peas, carrots, broccoli, iodized salt, vitamins (l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), vitamin E supplement, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), choline chloride, potassium chloride, vitamin E supplement, taurine, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid, l-lysine, beta-carotene, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis25%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis25%16%51%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%33%45%
Protein = 22% | Fat = 33% | Carbs = 45%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost… reducing the meat content to just 20% of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably occupy a lower position on the list.

The second ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice represents the small grain fragments left over after milling whole rice.

This is an inexpensive cereal grain by-product and not considered a quality ingredient.

The third ingredient lists barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index (like rice), barley can help support stable blood sugar levels in dogs.

The fourth ingredient lists soybean meal. Soybean meal is actually a useful by-product. It’s what remains of soybeans after all the oil has been removed.

Soybean meal contains 48% protein. However, compared to meat, this is an inferior plant-based protein. So, we must allow for this boosting effect as we judge the meat content of this food.

The fifth item is brown rice. Brown rice is a quality ingredient… a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) is fairly easy to digest.

The sixth ingredient is dried egg product… a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries… from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The seventh ingredient is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

The eighth ingredient is pork fat. Commonly known as lard, pork fat can add significant flavor to any dog food. Though it can be high in saturated oils, in reasonable amounts, pork fat can be considered an acceptable ingredient.

The ninth ingredient is soybean oil… red flagged here only due to its suspected (yet unlikely) link to canine food allergies.

The tenth ingredient is powdered cellulose… a non-digestible plant fiber usually made from cotton or sawdust. Cellulose is sometimes added to dilute the number of calories per serving and to give the feeling of fullness when it is eaten.

Except for the usual benefits of fiber, powdered cellulose provides no 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 have much of an effect on the overall rating of this product.

With two notable exceptions

First, we find no evidence of probiotics… friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing.

Finally, the minerals 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 Nature’s Best Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best appears to be an average dog food.

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 25%, a fat level of 16% and an estimated carbohydrate content of 51%.

You may have noticed the carbohydrate content reported by Hill’s does not agree with ours. That’s because the computing method1 used by the company is different than the technique we used.

In any case…

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 27% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate serving size of 47% for the overall product line.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And average carbs… when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Yet when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soybean meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best is a plant-based dog food using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb as its main source of animal protein… thus earning the brand three stars.


A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

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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.

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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

12/29/2009 Original review
08/05/2010 Review updated
08/12/2011 AAFCO Statements added (company website update)
02/18/2013 Review labeled “Discontinued”

02/18/2013 Last Update

  1. Nitrogen-free extract method
  • Dog Food Ninja

    K. So try a different “good food”. That’s kinda the point I was making. No one food will work for every dog, but there is no natural, scientific, or medical reason a dog world “need” to be fed a bad food except in very rare cases of extreme allergies or late stage kidney failure.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Usually when a food causes major gas problems in a dog it’s because the dog’s body is not used to digesting what it is being given.  Try giving digestive enzymes and maybe probiotics for a while and see if your dog can adjust.

  • L.S.

    Blue Buffalo caused major gas problems in my dogs.

  • Nataliarain89

    I quit feeding my animals Science diet and really started paying attention to ingredients after reading a book called Protect Your Pet by Ann Martin.

  • Rosewit

    A question do they make a tinned dog Natured Best food 

  • Jan_Mom2Cavs

    Miha, looks like you’ve tried lots of different foods for your puppy.  Which one did you end up feeding, or are you doing a rotation?  Just wondering.

  • Miha

    I thought we were giving our puppy a healthier diet with Science Diet once we rescued her from the shelter; however, it gave her loose stool and upset stomach. Our vet, who seemed to be making a profit off of pushing Science Diet products, recommended the brand. After doing some research and switching her to higher quality food, her stool got better and she seemed less anxiety-stricken about meal time. I do not recommend this product. If you truly love your pet, try something with higher quality ingredients.

  • Pingback: big boned???()

  • lynn

    My two yr old schnauzer hs been on this food since we brought her home. First puppy, then adult chicken small bites. She looks great, shiney coat,not overweight. No problems at all -would recommend.

  • Bob K

    addy – This is a 3 star food which is not all bad. There are many 4 star Chicken and rice based foods which cost less that would provide better nutrition to your puppy and leave more money in your pocket. Since he is a puppy perhaps keep him on this puppy food then transition slowly to something else when he moves to adult food. This will give you a little time to do some more research on food and learn whats available in your area for a good price.

  • addy

    My puppy loves the nature’s best chicken and brown rice. He doesnt like the regular science diet. I would like to try a higher rated dog food but Im afraid of messing with a good thing.

  • Chriatopher C.

    I just brought home my new puppy a mini schnauzer she had been eating pedigree for puppys at her breeders home . And after reading about corn in foods and so on and so forth I realized why her potty looks gritty
    And I have found chicken soup for the puppy lovers soul, and natures best are very similar chicken soup still seems to have more quality ingredients. Well I picked up natures best first , We mixed it with the pedigree slowly but my pup 7 wks old started to sort out different foods and was eating only the natures best so far seem like the change has went over well, but ill keep posted on how it workes for her if her excrement forms and look better and how she acts before I switch to chicken soup which I will when she is a young adult.

  • Meagan

    That seems so inhumane to think of our dogs eating “sawdust.”

  • Jonathan

    I don’t understand the statement “she… does not do well on anything above mid tier dog foods”.

    Have you tried every above average dog food? Have you tried half of them? How about a 5th of them? Probably not. Have you tried Natural Balance Synergy? Wellness Core Ocean? Earthborn Coastal Catch? Blue Buffalo Basics? Natural Balance LID? Orijen five fish?

    How many of these have you tried?


    …or these?


    Don’t give up after a few failed attempts is all I’m saying.

  • lynda

    We are feeding this food (Chicken) to one of our girls after she quit eating Pro Plan. She’s finicky with a sensitive tummy and does not do well on anything above mid tier dog foods. I must say she likes it and is doing very well. I do include add ins like bits of meat and cottage cheese and so far so good.

  • Kenny Kato

    Science Diet, Nature’s Best made my dog really sick.

  • Thanks, Diane.

  • Diane

    Excellent information!! My dog suffers with skin issues, skin infections, and allergies. Vets really haven’t helped him much. We keep going rounds on the same meds. I’m looking for a more holistic approach to helping him and for information like this. We have to go beyond just giving these animals pills to treat symptoms. We need to look for underlying causes and incorporate more holistic/healthy choices. How come it’s so hard to find Vets that utilize holistic treatments as well? It’s time to step out of the box especially when treating an animal with chronic problems. This kind of information is very useful and it’s a shame that Vets don’t share this kind of info. with pet owners. On behalf of the animals, thank you for putting this info. out there.

  • Hi Matt… Yes, you’re correct. Just the same, most every dog food sold in North America does meet AAFCO nutritional profiles. But our reason for making that statement is to let readers know the company’s website does not post that statement. So, we have no way of stating for which life stage the associated product is recommended (growth, adult maintenance or all life stages).

  • Hi, I notice that at the beginning of your review of almost all of Hill’s Science diet products that you find no AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements listed on the Hill’s website. While this statement may be true, Hill’s Science Diet does, indeed, abide by the AAFCO nutritional adequacy requirements. As such, all of Hill’s pet food packaging has the AAFCO statement of approval clearly defined, and is positioned just under the nutritional values table. Just wanted to clear that up.

  • Hi Joseph… For more help with these Red Flag dog food preservatives, look in our Library for articles about BHA and BHT. Hope this helps.

  • joseph

    Hi, I beg your assessment on some brands such as antioxidants Hill’s Science Plan used in their food. I mean chemical antioxidants such as BHA and BHT, really its presence in food is harmful?
    I await your response.

  • paul

    I rescued a german shepherd 1 1/2 years ago and have tried different dry foods (6 weeks min each): Science Diet original (what she was fed in the boarding kennel), Wellness (lamb & rice formula and weight mgmt), Prairie, Innova (turkey chicken), Evo (turkey & chicken formula), and now Science Diet Natures Best lamb & rice. I may have switched her off original Science Diet to Wellness too soon after she came to my house, but there was a great deal of foul poop, and it was extremely loose. On Wellness, my dog was constantly hungry and there was also a tremendous amount of poop. I bought some Prairie to mix in to solve the problem to no avail, and I disliked the smell of Prairie. On Innova, after a week her ears and neck became itchy and she was scratching often. I tried Evo based on a recommendation by another German Shepherd owner, and within 2 weeks my dog became sluggish, gained 10 pounds, and lost her vim and vigor. Last week, she stopped eating it. I bought Science Diet Natures best lamb & rice with a coupon, and she has resumed eating, has her energy back, has brighter eyes, and her vim and vigor is back. The ingredients in the Science Diet don’t look as good as those in some of the other bags I tried, but my dog’s problems have stopped, and she is moving better.

  • Rob

    I’m not against a little by-products in my dogs food as long as it comes from natural animal meat. These days, it’s hard to know what you’re getting, but I’ve always though Bil-Jac is an okay dog food. The number one listed ingredient is by-products and by golly, dogs just love it.

  • Stefanie Arnold

    I was switching my 2 shih tzu’s food from regular Science Diet Lamb to Nature’s Best Lamb Small Bites and have noticed in one of my dogs that he has been leaving hair balls all over the place. I have mixed the foods together and he’s not getting hte pure Nature’s Best yet either. He is scratching all the time and his hair feels much coarser than ever before. He also has had a couple of white spots on his nose. I’m pretty sure that he’s allergic to it, but I go to the vet in a couple of days.