Toothpaste/Shampoo conglomerate Colgate-Palmolive make hundreds of millions of dollars selling Hill’s Science Diet dog foods made largely of rice and corn. Branding these ingredients with the word “Science” doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for your dog, it means they’re scientifically formulated (cunningly within guidelines) to a product with the highest profit margin possible. It’s a winning formula from a company who’s done incredibly well with products we use “every day”.
Our previous review was negative, so for this revised edition we’ll focus on a formula aimed at healthy, active adult dogs – Hill’s Science Diet Active Adult. Consider this the best of the bunch, so if this doesn’t stack up, the other Science Diet dog food formulas probably won’t either.
An insight into vet recommended diets
Brands such as Hill’s and Royal Canin are trusted worldwide, especially as they’re often heavily endorsed by vets. There are a number of reasons for this, but they’re not necessarily anything to do with the nutritional aspects of the product itself. If you’re interested in the very clever marketing machine which drives these products then read this post about why vets recommended Hill’s Science & Prescription Diet.
Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food Review
The first ingredient in Hill’s Prescription Diet Active Adult, a product designed to feed an animal which is essentially carnivorous, is… [drum roll]… corn 🤷
This is very disappointing, and an immediate insight into how the company makes so much money. Corn is one of the cheapest inclusions we can find in a pet food, and a very cheap way to boost protein levels in the food without using meat. Pet food ingredients are listed in order of percentage, which assures us corn is more significant than any other ingredient, perhaps by a large margin.
The fourth ingredient, surprise surprise, is also corn, labelled in this instance as corn gluten meal (or CGM). The 5th ingredient (Beet Pulp) won’t amount to much of the food, which suggests the first four ingredients are the majority of the product. The corn is potentially 50% of the food, but very likely much more. The food boasts a high protein, and corn happens to be high protein, just not in a form as easily digested by your dog than protein from meat.
The 2nd and 3rd ingredients are more species appropriate, a combination of chicken by-product meal and pork fat. These are better inclusions which make Hill’s Science Diet Active Adult ever so slightly better than other formulas in the range. Sadly it’s still very lacklustre.
Moving on from the four main ingredients we find a long list of vitamins, minerals, oils, preservatives, et al. Dog foods need to meet minimum nutrition guidelines (usually based on AAFCO standards). On many pet foods you find “vitamins and minerals” listed, usually in the form of a pack/powder sourced overseas. With Hill’s Science Diet you can expect better inclusions which have been hand picked to work with the formula, so that’s a small plus point.
It’s hard to understand from looking at the ingredients, which to iterate are largely corn, why Hill’s Science Diet has such a glowing reputation. Fortunately for them not many people read the ingredients, and even those who do often fail to understand what they really mean. A dog, whether you class them as carnivore or omnivore, have a dental structure and digestive system geared towards digestion of meat and animal products. This is the reason your dog, like their wolf ancestors, will choose meat if you offer them a choice of meat or corn.
Overall this is one of the better Hill’s Science Diet formulas, but we can’t ignore the significant amount of corn. Many other Hill’s formulas use wheat and rice to keep production costs down, both of which are arguably worse. If you choose to feed a Hill’s Science Diet or Prescription Diet product then make sure you assess the ingredients and decide for yourself if it’s right for your dog.
If you still decide to feed Hill’s Science Diet or Prescription Diet, you’ll find their wet food offerings more species appropriate.
We hope our Hill’s Science Diet dog food review has been enlightening. If it has, please help us by sharing it with others. If you want to know more about why Hill’s and Royal Canin are so heavily endorsed by vets, then read this article.
Where to Buy Hill’s Science Diet
Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food Ingredients (Active Adult)
The ingredients of Hill’s Science Diet Active Adult dry dog food (as of July 2021) are as follows:
Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Pork Fat, Corn Gluten Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Soybean Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Flaxseed, Egg Product, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, 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), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene.
Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food Guaranteed Analysis (Active Adult)
The guaranteed analysis of Black Hawk Working Dog Beef & Lamb dry dog food (as of July 2021) are as follows:
|Carbohydrates||33.2% (listed on website)|
Hill’s Science Diet Recalls
As a major worldwide brand we can expect numerous recalls, and in perspective the standard of Hill’s products is generally good. They have, however, had some major recalls, the latest being as recent as January 2019 when Hill’s issued a massive worldwide recall of various varieties of canned foods due to toxic levels of vitamin D. The recall was issued for 22 million cans covering both Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Prescription Diet wet food products, with numerous alleged reported deaths.
Hill’s were one of the many affected manufacturers who fell victim to the pet food recalls of 2007 which led to numerous pet deaths from vegetable proteins imported from China contaminated with melamine.
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- High protein (but substantially from corn rather than meat).
- High animal fat.
- Manufacturing standards should be higher.
- Heavy use of corn rather than meat.