This post may contain affiliate links. We are compensated for referring customers to our affiliate partners.
You can find detailed information about Hill’s Pet Nutrition, a subsidiary of the Colgate-Palmolive Company, the maker of Hill’s Science Diet Pet Food, in our main Science Diet Dog Food review. There, you will also find information about how the food is made, recalls, and their quality control measures.
Hill’s Science Diet provides more individualized foods for dogs with different health conditions and life stages than any other brand that comes to mind. If your dog has any kind of health issue, regardless of his age or condition, it’s very possible that Science Diet has a food for him, or your vet can prescribe one of their Prescription Diets for him. Their Prescription Diets are costly and even their regular foods are expensive. Many people question whether these are good foods when they look at the ingredients, but dogs who eat these foods seem to do well.
List of Ingredients Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites Dog Food
Chicken Meal, Pea Bran Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Corn, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Soybean Oil, Lactic Acid, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, L-Lysine, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Oat Fiber, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Beta-Carotene, Phosphoric Acid,Natural Flavors, Dried Apples, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries, Dried Peas
Initial Thoughts About Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites Dog Food
The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken Meal, Pea Bran Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley and Whole Grain Corn. As with other Science Diet foods, this shows a first ingredient that contains animal protein, followed by multiple sources of grains/carbohydrates. Peas, in the pea bran meal, are “pulses.”
According to Science Diet, this light dog food has 19 percent lower in calories than their Adult Advanced Fitness food. The company claims that they use “natural vegetable fiber” to help satisfy hunger between meals. You should note that a lot of the “natural fiber” in this food comes from peas – pea bran meal, for example. Many dogs have trouble digesting peas and peas in dog food can lead to flatulence and diarrhea. They are often regarded as a filler ingredient.
A word about Science Diet’s weight control (“light”) dog foods. We notice from the AAFCO statements for these foods that they were formulated and approved based on their nutrient profiles and not on feeding trials. Science Diet uses animal feeding trials for many of their foods, which is great. While some people complain that these trials are not very stringent or don’t go on long enough, at least they have real dogs eating the food for a period of time so the companies can see how the dogs react to the food. This isn’t the case with nutrient profiles. We think if feeding trials had been conducted with this line of weight control dog food, which relies on pea bran meal and powdered cellulose, the dogs would have shown problems with diarrhea and flatulence. We question why Science Diet didn’t conduct feeding trials with these foods instead of using nutrient profiles to have them approved by AAFCO.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
Chicken meal is the first ingredient and it’s a good ingredient for dog food. Chicken is about 80 percent protein and it’s a good source of Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Niacin and Selenium. It’s also a good source of glucosamine for joint health. Chicken meal is a concentrated form of chicken in which most of the moisture has been removed. It typically contains about three times as much protein as chicken.
The next four ingredients in the food are grains/cereals and the pea bran meal, adding a lot of carbohydrates to the food. They are all relatively high energy grains that are digested quickly and get in your dog’s bloodstream fast. Whole grains like some of these grains, however, are harder for your dog to digest.
The second ingredient is pea bran meal. Pea bran meal is an animal grade fiber made from pea hulls. It has a total dietary fiber content of around 83 percent and protein content around 7 percent. It’s used as a fiber additive in pet foods. As part of a pet diet it reduces blood sugar and provides roughage. However, pea fiber can be a problem ingredient in dog food for some dogs. Pea fiber isn’t always easily digested by dogs and can result in increased waste and some gastrointestinal issues. Peas in general can also interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the food (read more here).
The third ingredient is whole grain sorghum. While sorghum is currently touted as having a lot of health benefits for humans, such as being gluten-free and helping with some health issues (which haven’t been proven), it’s usually associated with livestock feed. Sorghum is about 3 percent protein, 8 percent fat, and 89 percent carbohydrates. It contains some B vitamins and a few assorted minerals, but not large quantities of anything, although it does have a lot of omega-6 fatty acid. One species of sorghum is the source of sorghum molasses. Other kinds of sorghum are used for grass/fodder and grains for animals.
The fourth ingredient is whole grain wheat. Whole grain wheat is mostly carbs with some protein and fat (15 percent protein, 5 percent fat, 80 percent carbohydrates). It is considered to be a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, and selenium.
The fifth ingredient is corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal is derived from corn but it’s not actually a gluten. It is a by-product of corn processing that contains corn proteins. It’s often used in pet food as well as livestock feeds. Let me repeat: corn gluten meal contains no gluten. It has nothing to do with the kind of glutens you find in breads or other foods that contain glutens. If your dog is allergic to corn, he will be allergic to corn gluten meal because of the corn protein. But it has nothing to do with gluten. Corn gluten meal typically contains higher amounts of protein than ordinary corn which is one reason why it’s added to pet food. It can contain as much as 60 percent protein on an as fed basis.
Overall, the first five ingredients in this food provide some good animal protein in the form of chicken meal as the first ingredient. They also provide some plant-based protein. However, many of these ingredients are primarily carbohydrates from grains. Of greater concern is the pea bran fiber, especially as the second ingredient, since this is mostly dietary fiber and roughage. Dogs eating this food will likely have some gastrointestinal issues.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
The sixth ingredient is cracked pearled barley. Cracked pearled barley has been polished to remove part of its hull and bran; and make it easier to digest. Keep in mind that the more it’s processed, the more nutrients it loses, even if it makes it easier to digest. It has a moderate amount of starch that can be slowly digested, along with soluble fiber.
The next ingredient is whole grain corn. Whole grain corn, along with the corn gluten meal as the fifth ingredient, means this food contains quite a bit of corn. Whole grain corn contains about 5 percent protein (this can vary depending on different factors), 9 percent fat, and about 86 percent carbohydrates. Much of the whole grain corn raised in the U.S. and Canada is sold for animal feed. Whole grain corn has a high glycemic load which means it will get in your dog’s bloodstream quickly and give him quick energy but it will also wear off quickly or be converted to fat if it’s not used.
We are concerned about some of the ingredients in the food. The food contains powdered cellulose. Cellulose in dog food usually comes from pine trees. It is mainly an insoluble fiber. Added in high amounts, it can have a negative effect on how your dog digests other ingredients in the food. It’s often used in light or “lite” dog foods because it doesn’t add calories to food. But it can cause dogs to have diarrhea and flatulence. We understand that weight control dog foods need to make dogs feel full without adding calories, but we think dog owners should be careful about foods containing cellulose (read more here).
The food also contains flaxseed. Lots of people like flaxseed and flaxseed oil for their dogs since it’s a great source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (especially omega 3). However, flaxseed is also a significant source of phytoestrogen. These are plant-derived substances that mimic some of the effects of estrogen in the body. This can be especially true in females (read more here). Without going into the possible effects on humans, many dog breeders have reported that feeding dogs foods that contain flaxseed or flaxseed oil has interfered with conception and gestation. So flaxseed in a dog food is something that should be viewed cautiously, especially if you breed dogs. If you have an intact female dog, especially in a house with male dogs, you may find that foods with flaxseed causes males to think the female is in season. The same phenomenon often occurs with foods containing soy.
This food contains soybean oil and it has many of the same issues as flaxseed (read more here). Soybeans are a good source of protein and fat and they are low in carbs but they are a common cause of allergies in dogs. They are also a source of phytoestrogens which can play interfere with your dog’s hormones to a certain extent.
We also see chicken liver flavor in the food. Added flavors always raise a few eyebrows, but since this is a named source, it looks fine. However, the food also contains “Natural Flavors” which is not fine. Natural flavors in dog food could be almost anything approved by the FDA as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). It is frequently monosodium glutamate (MSG) – the same MSG that is added to human foods for flavor and color. Your dog doesn’t need MSG unless you are trying to discourage him from eating his own poop (a common use of MSG with dog owners). So, chicken liver flavor, okay; natural flavors, no.
You also find dried beet pulp in the food. There are some misconceptions about beet pulp, probably because of the name. Dried beet pulp is a natural, fermentable source of fiber. It is a wonderful addition to dog food to help move fecal matter along in the intestines. It also acts as a pre-biotic to help good bacteria grow in the gut.
Like most other Science Diet foods, this food contains oat fiber. Oat fiber is 100 percent carbohydrates and it’s very high in sodium. However, it is a good source of dietary fiber.
Finally, we notice that the food contains some interesting additives toward the end of the ingredient list. L-Lysine is an essential amino acid in mammals. It’s a building block of protein. It also plays a major role in calcium absorption and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. L-carnitine comes from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It helps the body turn fat into energy, among other things. It’s often added to weight control dog foods or to foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates. Taurine is an amino acid that is often added to dog foods today to prevent a deficiency that could cause heart problems and other health problems in some dogs. Mixed tocopherols are usually E vitamins, so they are a natural preservative. We also see beta-carotene added. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid from plants that forms vitamin A in the body. It’s good for vision, immunity, and other health benefits. You are probably most familiar with it in carrots. The food also has some dried fruits and vegetables added at the end of the ingredient list but these are probably added for flavor. It’s doubtful they have much impact this far down the list.
Protein ….. 24.9
Fat ….. 9.0
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 47.1
Crude Fiber ….. 13.3
Calcium ….. 0.87
Phosphorus ….. 0.7
Sodium ….. 0.35
Potassium ….. 0.80
Magnesium ….. 0.134
Carnitine ….. 351 ppm
Vitamin C ….. 248 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 710 IU/kg
297 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites Dog Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance of adult dogs.
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains 24.9 percent protein and 9 percent fat. This is a moderate percentage of protein and a very low percentage of fat. Fiber makes up 13.3 percent of the food which is an enormously high percentage. The food contains 47.1 percent carbohydrates which is a high percentage of carbs, especially for a light dog food.
We do not recommend this food for weight control for small dogs because of the pea bran meal and powdered cellulose in the food. We also think that a fiber content over 13 percent is excessively high and that dogs eating this food will be likely to have diarrhea and flatulence. The food is exactly the same as Hill’s Science DietAdult Light and Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Light. We don’t see anything here that would make it especially suitable for small dogs other than coming in bite size pieces.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites Dog Food has received our 1.5 paw rating.
Buy your dog food with the convenience of Chewy.com and help support this website at the same time! If you click on any of the Chewy.com links or banners on this website, and then make a purchase (no matter what you buy), we receive a small commission on your entire purchase! How cool is that?! We would really appreciate your support and every penny earned through our Chewy commission helps to improve this site and add even more dog food reviews. 🙂
(We Are Incredibly Thankful For Your Support!)