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.
Review of Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food
Review of Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dry Dog Food
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.
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Recipe and Label Analysis
Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin 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.
Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Protein = 25% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 51%
Ingredients: Chicken, brewers rice, chicken meal, yellow peas, cracked pearled barley, whole grain sorghum, egg product, chicken fat, soybean oil, brown rice, dried beet pulp, chicken liver flavor, lactic acid, pork liver flavor, potassium chloride, flaxseed, 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), choline chloride, taurine, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), mixed tocopherols for freshness, oat fiber, natural flavors, beta-carotene, apples, broccoli, carrots, cranberries, green peas
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 1.3%
Red denotes controversial item
|Dry Matter Basis
|Calorie Weighted Basis
Protein = 22% | Fat = 34% | Carbs = 44%
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains up to 73% 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 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 chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The next ingredient lists 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 fifth 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.
The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is egg product, an unspecified (wet or dry?) 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 next item 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.
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, 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.
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 24% 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 59%.
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 peas and flaxseed in this recipe, and the corn gluten and soybean meals contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing 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.
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?
A Final Word
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