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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.
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Ingredients in Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Food
Chicken, Brown Rice, Soybean Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Chicken Meal, Pork Fat, Dried Egg Product, Flaxseed, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Oat Groats, Cracked Pearled Barley, Lactic Acid, Fish Oil, Soybean Oil, Vegetable & fruit blend (Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli), Dicalcium Phosphate, Iodized Salt, 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), Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), L-Tryptophan, Taurine, DL-Mehtionine, L-Threonine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors.
Special Information About Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Food
The first five ingredients in this food are: Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Animal Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Liver Flavor and Flaxseed. There’s not a petfood reviewer anywhere who’s going to be kind to this food, despite the fact that it is only available through veterinarians. These are not the first ingredients in most dogs foods, or even in most Science Diet foods. You might find whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, and even animal fat at the top of some ingredient lists, but it’s doubtful that you will also see liver flavor and flaxseed in the top five ingredients. These ingredients indicate the food contains grains/carbs, animal protein, animal fat, added flavor, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. We’ll have to look more closely to see some of the pros and cons of these ingredients.
According to the company this food is recommended for puppies up to 1 year old and pregnant or nursing dogs. Pregnant and nursing dogs have the same need for extra calories and nutrients as growing puppies, especially in the final weeks before delivery. The food is available exclusively from veterinarians and the company says it is uniquely formulated to help address five common health concerns for growing puppies.
The company claims that the food provides vitamin C and E for immunity in optimal levels of clinically proven antioxidants. They claim to provide high quality protein for ideal body weight and optimal growth and development. They also claim the food provides “clinically tested levels of omega fatty acids and provides the building blocks for healthy joints and cartilage” with omega fatty acids with natural glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. They also say the food provides healthy digestion with an optimal fiber mixture that helps maintain a healthy digestive tract and firm stools. This is done by using “natural vegetable fiber.” Finally, the company claims it promotes healthy skin and a luxurious coat with omega fatty acids.
Looking over these claims briefly, vitamins C and E are antioxidants. That means they are preservatives, among other things. Yes, they are present in this food. Yes, they can do good things for your puppy but they are found in most dog foods. As far as “high quality protein,” this food uses chicken by-product meal and some owners would balk at calling this a “high quality protein” on the grounds that by-products are not as desirable as whole meats or meals. The food does contain sources of omega fatty acids which are good for a dog/puppy’s skin and coat, among other things. As far as glucosamine and chondroitin go, I am not aware of any studies that show it is beneficial to give it to dogs under one year of age. If you find evidence of this kind of study, we would like to see it. People who have large breed puppies/dogs may start to give their puppies glucosamine and/or chondroitin at a young age; and people with performance dogs often start to give their dogs these supplements at a young age. But, again, we are not aware of any studies that show puppies or dogs benefit from taking these supplements before they are a year old. Almost invariably, there is too little of these supplements in dog food to be of any real use to a dog. As for the “natural vegetable fiber” in the food for healthy digestion, we find that usually refers to powdered cellulose and many puppies/dogs have problems digesting it. It can result in loose stools, diarrhea, and flatulence.
So, while these claims may be true about what’s in the food, we are more skeptical about how beneficial they are for your puppy.
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Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The top 5 ingredients included in this Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Food are: Chicken, Brown Rice, Soybean Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, and Chicken Meal. 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.
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.
Soybean Meal – Soybean meal is not an ingredient you commonly find in pet foods. It contains about 45% crude protein, 6% crude fiber, and 1.4% fat. The fact that this ingredient contains so much protein may seem like a good thing, but it is less biologically valuable for your dog than something like chicken because it is plant-based, not animal-based. It is probably used in this product to add to the protein content without increasing the amount of meat.
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.
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.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
Aside from the top five ingredients, there are several other notable ingredients found in Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Food. Some of these ingredients include: pork fat, dried egg product, flaxseed, dried beet pulp, chicken liver flavor, cracked pearled barley, fish oil, vegetable and fruit blend, and a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements. Pork 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. The food also contains fish oil which can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acid, depending on the kind of fish and other factors. Most people arent aware that there are different kinds of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed and other plants can provide one kind but fish (particularly cold water fish) can provide a different, more beneficial kind (read more here).
The food also has dried egg product. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and they have great bioavailability for mammals. This means your dog can access the nutrients in egg products very easily. It doesn’t really matter here that this is dried egg product. They have the same nutrients as fresh eggs. 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.
Another ingredient included in this product is chicken liver flavor. While it’s good that this flavor is identified (unlike “natural flavors” which often refers to monosodium glutamate or MSG as a flavor), it’s very unusual to see a flavor so high up in the list of ingredients. An ingredient like this will likely contain a lot of water and it may be liver cooked in water to add flavor to the food. 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.
The food also contains fish oil which can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acid, depending on the kind of fish and other factors. Most people aren’t aware that there are different kinds of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed and other plants can provide one kind but fish (particularly cold water fish) can provide a different, more beneficial kind (read more here). 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.
Finally, we notice that the food contains some interesting additives toward the end of the ingredient list. L-Tryptophan, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid, 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-Carnitine comes from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It helps the body turn fat into energy, among other things. 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. Rosemary Extract is a mild preservative. Dogs with epilepsy or other seizures may want to avoid foods that contain rosemary since there is some suggestion that rosemary can trigger seizures.
According to the guaranteed analysis, the food appears to contain higher levels of vitamin C and E, like many Science Diet foods. It also contains higher levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, than many dog foods. The calcium to phosphorus ratio looks approximately correct for growing puppies.
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Fat ….. 23.0
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 33.7
Crude Fiber ….. 3.2
Calcium ….. 1.64
Phosphorus ….. 1.2
Sodium ….. 0.61
Potassium ….. 0.88
Magnesium ….. 0.114
Carnitine ….. 329.3 ppm
Vitamin C ….. 401 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 799 IU/kg
DHA ….. 0.207
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Total ….. 1.73
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Total ….. 4.77
Chondroitin Sulfate ….. 2123 mg/kg (ppm)
Glucosamine ….. 1203 mg/kg (ppm)
387 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for growing puppies and gestating/lactating adult female dogs.
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains 31.4 percent protein and 23 percent fat. These are above average percentages of protein and fat. Fiber makes up 3.2 percent of the food which is a low percentage. The food contains 33.7 percent carbohydrates which is a low carbohydrate percentage compared to other commercial kibbles.
This food is probably controversial among people who look at dog food reviews, in particular because of its ingredients. In fact, we don’t like the powdered cellulose at all. However, we do like the guaranteed analysis very much and we like the protein/fat/carb/fiber percentages for puppies. We also note that this food used feeding trials, unlike some of Science Diet’s other foods with powdered cellulose. We cautiously recommend this food for puppies.
This review was last updated on 1/17/2016