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 Mature Adult Large Breed Dog Food Review
Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brewers Rice, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Corn, Pork Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Oil, Corn Gluten Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Dried Beet Pulp, Lactic Acid, Potassium Chloride, Pork Liver Flavor, 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, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Iodized Salt, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Oat Fiber, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, L-carnitine, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavor, Dried Apples, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries, Dried Peas
The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brewers Rice andBrown Rice. These ingredients would indicate a good source of animal protein and a lot of carbohydrates, with some fiber.
According to the company this food is recommended for large breed dogs weighing 55 to 110 lbs (6+ years of age) and giant breed dogs weighing 110+ lbs (5+ years of age). According to the company, the key benefits of the food are a combination of key nutrients to “restore youthful vitality;” omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E to improve skin and coat (compared to previously feeding grocery store dog foods); and high quality chicken protein with natural ingredients and no chicken by-product meal.
The company also mentions that they use L-carnitine to provide “youthful vitality” and help mature adult dogs maintain an ideal weight. They also say the food contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy cartilage and joints.
We have no problem with these claims, although it’s hard to say how the company measures “youthful vitality.” This seems like a very subjective goal. Some owners might observe a change in the behavior of their mature adult dog while others might think their dog is not acting very different.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The first ingredient in the food is 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. 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 it shouldn’t be a problem for most dogs.
The second 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. Among dogs who have food allergies, wheat is a common allergen, but most dogs are able to eat it without any problem.
Whole grain sorghum is the third ingredient. 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.
Brewers rice is the fourth ingredient. It’s 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. Brewer’s rice is used as a source of fiber in many dog foods. Used in moderation it adds texture and structure to dog food.
The fifth ingredient is 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.
Overall, these ingredients seem to meet some of the company’s claims about the food. They provide good meat protein in chicken meal, and a mixture of both simple and complex carbohydrates which is good for blood sugar levels. There is not much fat in these first few ingredients. There is plenty of fiber. There is also some omega-6 fatty acid, though there will be more sources farther down the ingredient list.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
The food also contains whole grain corn and corn gluten meal. Corn isn’t a “bad” ingredient, as some people seem to think, but that’s a lot of corn in a food that already has a lot of different grains and cereals. 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. Corn gluten meal, on the other hand, has a much higher protein percentage which makes it very desirable as a dog food ingredient for manufacturers. Corn gluten meal can be as much as 60 percent protein on an as fed basis so it can boost the protein percentage of any pet food. As with other ingredients that are widespread in dog foods, corn can be a common allergen for dogs who have food allergies, but most dogs can eat it without any trouble.
The food also contains 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. Barley is considered to be a good grain for regulating the body’s blood sugar.
The food also contains pork fat, pork liver flavor and chicken liver flavor. We don’t have a problem with these ingredients. Pork fat is a named fat and dogs love it. We’re not crazy about flavors added to dog foods but pork liver flavor and chicken liver flavor are named and identified. They probably add some additional moisture to the food but, as far as we know, they are not harmful. On the other hand, natural flavors, at the end of the list, is often monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is also added to human foods. It’s much less desirable.
The food also contains dried beet pulp. 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 soybean oil. Soybeans have many of the same issues as flaxseed.
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. If your dog has any thyroid issues such as hypothyroidism or if he takes thyroid medication, you should talk to your veterinarian about whether it’s okay to feed a food that contains soy products. Some foods will interfere with your dog’s ability to absorb the medication (just as with people).
The food also contains flaxseed. Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid but it’s also a phytoestrogen and it can cause hormonal problems for dogs, especially for unspayed female dogs. If you are a dog breeder, you should be careful about feeding a food with heavy concentrations of this ingredient to a puppy.
The food also 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.
The food also has Dried Apples, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries and Dried Peas. The company says these vegetables add vitamins and minerals and some antioxidants. This is possible but they are far enough down the ingredient list that it’s unlikely that they add much nutritional value.
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. It’s also a natural antioxidant or preservative.
The food also contains taurine. 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. 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.
Protein ….. 19.3
Fat ….. 15.0
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 58.6
Crude Fiber ….. 1.7
Calcium ….. 0.80
Phosphorus ….. 0.7
Sodium ….. 0.20
Potassium ….. 0.96
Magnesium ….. 0.107
Carnitine ….. 330 ppm
Vitamin C ….. 330 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 823 IU/kg
Chondroitin Sulfate ….. 1311 mg/kg (ppm)
Glucosamine ….. 339 mg/kg (ppm)
365 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Science Diet Mature Adult Large Breed 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 19.3 percent protein and 15 percent fat. These are low levels of protein and fat, especially for a quality dog food. Fiber makes up 1.7 percent of the food which is a very low percentage. The food contains 58.6 percent carbohydrates which is very high.
Keeping in mind that this food is made for mature adult large breed dogs, we understand that there is a desire to keep these dogs lean. That may account for the low fat percentage in the food. But it doesn’t account for the relatively low protein percentage. We also know that Science Diet believes that feeding lots of carbohydrates are the way to keep dogs feeling full while controlling weight. Nevertheless, we can’t recommend this food very highly because of the low protein percentage. We believe that “mature” or older dogs need more protein, not less, as they get older.
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