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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.
Ingredients in Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach
Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Cracked Pearled Barley, Pea Protein, Pork Fat, Soybean Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Lactic Acid, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, Flaxseed, 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, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Oat Fiber, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.
Science Diet claims that this food is for adult dogs between the ages of 1 and 6 years of age with sensitive stomachs – occasional loose stools, upset stomach, or trouble tolerating current food. According to the company, the food provides high quality protein that is gentle on the stomach. It also gives the dog good intestinal health with prebiotic fibers and oat fiber. The company cites dried beet pulp and oat fiber as providing this good intestinal health and firm stools. We have no reason to question these claims. However, we note that the food contains pea protein concentrate which some dogs have trouble digesting. Dogs can probably digest pea protein concentrate more easily than pea fiber but we still wonder if this ingredient might counteract some of the claims about how this food is good for dogs with a sensitive stomach.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The top 5 ingredients included in this Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food are: Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Cracked Pearled Barley, and Pea Protein. Below you will find a brief explanation of each of these ingredients:
Brewers Rice – Brewers rice is a by-product of the rice milling industry. According to AAFCO it is “the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice.” Brewers rice is a processed rice product that is missing many of the nutrients contained in whole ground rice and brown rice thus reducing the quality. It is often used in pet foods. Brewer’s rice is used as a source of fiber in dog foods. Used in moderation it can add structure and texture to pet food.
Chicken Meal – Chicken meal is the dried and condensed version of chicken that has had most of the moisture removed. Chicken is normally about 80 percent protein and chicken meal contains even more protein, up to 300% more.
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.
Cracked Pearled Barley – 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.
Pea Protein – Pea protein contains around 45-55 percent protein, with fat and ash around 5-6 percent, and dietary fiber of 15-20 percent. This is a problematic ingredient. Some dogs have problems digesting pea protein, even though the nutrients it contains are in a very digestible form. There is also some evidence, especially from studies with other animals, that pea protein can prevent the body from absorbing some nutrients if there is too much of this ingredient in the food. In some animal studies there has been evidence that feeding a diet with pea protein resulted in enteropathy or inflammation of the intestines. There has not yet been much research done on pea protein concentrates and dogs and cats. Is it possible that Science Diet has done some of this research and found that this ingredient works in this food? Yes. We note that they have used feeding trials to gain AAFCO approval for this food which is a point in their favor. If your dog does have problems with the food, it might be because of this ingredient.
Thoughts About The First 5 Ingredients
Overall, the first five ingredients in this food show a lot of grain but they also look like they provide lots of protein. For the purposes of a dog food for sensitive skin, these first few ingredients look like they probably provide plenty of protein and fat, along with some of the Omega-6 and Omega-3 the food claims it includes. If your dog is not allergic to corn or other grains, the food looks like it could be helpful.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
Aside from the top five ingredients, there are several other notable ingredients found in Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food. Some of these ingredients include: pork fat, soybean oil, chicken liver flavor, dried beet pulp, flaxseed, and various vitamins and minerals plus a vegetable and fruit blend. Pork fat is used in the food and we don’t have a problem with it. It’s a named source of fat. Dogs love pork and pork fat. (Have you seen how your dog acts around bacon?). 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 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. The food also has a Vegetable & fruit blend (Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli). The company says these vegetables add vitamins and minerals and that the fruit adds antioxidants. This is possible but they are far enough down the ingredient list that it’s unlikely that they add much nutritional value.
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) which can help skin conditions. 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 on Wikipedia). 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.
Finally, we notice that the food contains some interesting additives toward the end of the ingredient list. L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and it’s commonly found in lots of foods such as red meat, dairy products, and some fruits and other plants. It’s a building block for protein biosynthesis and a precursor for serotonin, Niacin, and Auxin. Niacin, in particular, helps keep the skin healthy (read more here). 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. 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.
Fat ….. 17.3
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 52.5
Crude Fiber ….. 1.5
Calcium ….. 1.03
Phosphorus ….. 0.8
Sodium ….. 0.22
Potassium ….. 0.70
Magnesium ….. 0.113
Vitamin C ….. 237 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 577 IU/kg
366 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains 23.3 percent protein and 17.3 percent fat. These are moderate protein and fat percentages. Fiber makes up 1.5 percent of the food which is a very low percentage. The food contains 52.5 percent carbohydrates which is extremely high.
If your dog is not allergic to chicken and he can tolerate pea protein concentrate, then the protein in this food will probably not bother his stomach. The food does contain a LOT of grain/carbohydrates and some prebiotic fibers which could be helpful for some dogs with sensitive stomachs. In other words, if you are trying to find something for your dog with a sensitive stomach, go ahead and try this food. It might work. But it probably wouldn’t be my first choice.
This review was last updated on 1/17/2016