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Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dog Food Review

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4 Paw Rated Dog Food

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.



Compare Our Review To These Reviews For Science Diet Oral Care From Dog Owners



List of Ingredients Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care

Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Powdered Cellulose, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken Liver Flavor, Whole Grain Oats, Wheat Gluten, Soybean Mill Run, Pork Flavor, Calcium Sulfate, Lactic Acid, Soybean Oil, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Pork Fat, Iodized Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Dicalcium Phosphate, Oat Fiber, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.


Special Information About Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dog Food

The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Powdered Cellulose, Brown Rice, and Chicken Fat. As with many of Science Diet’s foods, this their Adult Oral Care dog food has animal protein as the first ingredient, followed by a number of grains in the first several ingredients. It also contains powdered cellulose as the third ingredient which can be problematic for many dogs to digest.

According to Science Diet, this food is designed to provide protection from plaque and tartar buildup in adult dogs from 1 to 6 years of age. According to the company the food has been clinically proven to help reduce plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth using fiber in the food. It also has a unique kibble that is designed to help keep the teeth clean and the breath fresh.

Looking at the ingredients for this food, we had doubts about the quality of the food and how it managed to keep a dog’s teeth clean so we consulted a veterinarian who had some additional information from the company that was provided in a conference about their oral care dog foods. This information is not provided on the company’s web site. Basically, it seems that Science Diet uses a proprietary fiber “matrix” that resists crumbling. This allows the food to gently scrub the entire supragingival tooth surface to reduce bacteria-laden plaque and tartar. Larger kibble size also increases the cleaning action.

So, the food provides oral care not in particular with the ingredients (though they play a part), but in the specific way they are used in the food. Science Diet gives the following citations for their research:

  • Hennet P, Servet E, Soulard Y, et al. “Effect of pellet food size and polyphosphates in preventing calculus accumulation in dogs.” J Vet Dent 2007;24(4):236-239.
  • Logan EI, Finney O, Hefferren JJ, et al. “Effects of a dental food on plaque accumulation and gingival health in dogs.” J Vet Dent 2002;19(1):15-18.
  • Logan EI, Proctor V, Berg ML, et al. “Statistical treatment of dental project 4050 FTDO 9138, in Proceedings.” 15th Annual Veterinary Dental Forum 2001;377-378.

While powdered cellulose is likely used in this food as part of the “proprietary fiber matrix,” that doesn’t mean that cellulose is effective for dental care in other pet foods. It’s an ingredient that can be used in different ways.

This food has also been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (visit their website here):

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care dog food has been awarded the VOHC Seal for the control of plaque and tartar in dogs. The VOHC Seal is a trademark owned by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

So, while we may not like all of the ingredients in this food, there seems little doubt that Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care dog food will help keep plaque and tartar from forming on your dog’s teeth. This is one of those cases where, thanks to research and development, the way ingredients are used make a food better than just looking at the ingredients would suggest.

Compare Our Review To These Reviews For Science Diet Oral Care From Dog Owners


Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown

The top 5 ingredients included in this Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dog Food are: Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Powdered Cellulose, Brown Rice, and Chicken Fat. Below you will find a brief explanation of each of these ingredients:

Chicken – This ingredient is usually whole chicken so it contains a lot of moisture. Without the moisture, this ingredient would come much farther down the ingredient list. Later in the list the food also contains chicken meal as the fifth ingredient. Chicken in general is a good source of Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Niacin and Selenium. This is a good animal protein for many dogs. Some dogs can be allergic to chicken, however. Obviously, if your dog has problems with chicken you’ll need to avoid this food but, combined, chicken and chicken meal seem to provide a lot of animal protein in the food.

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.

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. In this food it is likely used as part of the mix to help prevent plaque and tartar, but it can still be an issue for some dogs (read more here).

Brown Rice – Brown rice is often used in dog foods. From a dog food viewpoint, rice is a cereal grain. Brown rice is higher in fiber than white rice, and less processed. It can also be a little more irritating to the stomach than white rice. It’s a simple carbohydrate that can give dogs quick energy. Used in conjunction with more complex carbs in a dog food, brown rice is a good ingredient.

Chicken Fat – Chicken fat may not sound like an appetizing ingredient but it is a valuable addition to dog food because it provides a concentrated source of energy and fatty acids. This ingredient also adds natural flavor to the product.

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Thoughts About The Top 5 Ingredients

Overall, the first five ingredients in this food provide some animal protein in the form of chicken as the first ingredient. They also provide some plant-based protein. However, many of these ingredients are primarily carbohydrates from grains. The powdered cellulose is a concern but it’s probably part of the proprietary mixture used to prevent tartar and plaque in this food.

Additional Ingredients of Interest

Aside from the top five ingredients, there are several other notable ingredients found in Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dog Food. Some of these ingredients include: whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, cracked pearled barley, whole grain sorghum, chicken liver flavor, soybean mill run, soybean oil, and various additives.

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.

Another ingredient of concern is corn gluten meal. Coupled with the whole grain corn, this food has a lot of corn. When a company combines different forms of an ingredient in this way it’s called “splitting” and it can be done to disguise how much of an ingredient is actually in the food. Corn and corn gluten meal aren’t necessarily “bad” ingredients but it’s usually more desirable to see animal proteins instead of plant proteins in a food. Plus, some dogs can be allergic to corn because it has become such a common ingredient. (Dogs can become allergic to any ingredient that is over-used in the pet food industry.) But corn gluten meal does have some benefits. Because it’s a meal, it’s already condensed and it can contain as much as 60 percent protein. It doesn’t actually contain any “gluten” – that’s just a trade term. It has nothing to do with the kind of gluten intolerance that people experience. It’s easy to digest and it provides some fat and calcium in the diet, along with some crude fiber. It’s an ingredient that has pros and cons when you see it in dog food unless you are opposed to all grains on principle. Obviously, when a food has a lot of grain, it’s going to be a negative because that usually means there is less animal protein. Dogs typically digest animal protein more easily and get better nutrition from things like chicken, fish, beef, and lamb than they do from corn.

Barley is about 90 percent carbohydrates, 3 percent fat, and 7 percent protein. It’s a good source of dietary fiber and Manganese. Cracked pearled barley is considered to be a good grain for regulating the body’s blood sugar. 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.

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. 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.

Soybean mill run is composed of soybean hulls and such bean meats that adhere to the hulls which results from normal milling operations in the production of de-hulled soybean meal. In other words, it’s the hulls from soybeans and whatever soybeans happen to stick to them while they’re being milled. Normally we would call this a filler ingredient and it would send up red flags but in the case of this oral care food it is possible that this ingredient is part of the fiber blend that is used to keep the dog’s teeth clean. We will note that some dogs have problems digesting soy products and they are a frequent allergen. You can read more about soy issues below (soybean oil).

Finally, we notice that the food contains some interesting additives toward the end of the ingredient list. 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.

Compare Our Review To These Reviews For Science Diet Oral Care From Dog Owners


Guaranteed Analysis

(Science Diet already figures for dry matter basis)
Protein ….. 24.7
Fat ….. 16.0
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 44.2
Crude Fiber ….. 10.4
Calcium ….. 0.79
Phosphorus ….. 0.7
Sodium ….. 0.25
Potassium ….. 0.78
Magnesium ….. 0.091
Vitamin C ….. 134 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 569 IU/kg

Calories Content

272 calories per 8 oz cup

Nutritional Adequacy Statement

Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.

Dry Matter Basis

On a dry matter basis, this food contains 24.7 percent protein and 16 percent fat. These are moderate percentages of protein and fat. Fiber makes up 10.4 percent of the food which is a high percentage. The food contains 44.2 percent carbohydrates which is a high percentage of carbs for most foods.


You may not like some of the ingredients in this food. It has chicken by-products and several kinds of grains, as well as powdered cellulose. However, we were able to substantiate the company’s claims about the food being good for your dog’s teeth and preventing plaque and tartar.

Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dog Food has received our 4 paw rating.

This review was last updated on 1/17/2017

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