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Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Dog Food Review

Dog Food Reviews
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.

See How Our Review Compares To These Customer Reviews


List of Ingredients in Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Original

Chicken Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Pork Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Sorghum, Corn Gluten Meal, Pork Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Fish Oil, Flaxseed, Lactic Acid, Pork Flavor, Soybean Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate, Iodized Salt, Potassium Chloride, 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


Ingredients Overview

The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Pork Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, and Whole Grain Corn. These ingredients would indicate good sources of animal protein along with some carbohydrates and fiber. Note that there are two sources of animal protein in the first five ingredients – chicken meal and pork meal – which are both very acceptable for puppies. Chicken, wheat, and corn are common allergens for dogs who have food allergies but most dogs can eat these ingredients without any problems.

According to the company this food is recommended for puppies up to 1 year old and pregnant or nursing dogs. Science Diet says that the food has omega-3 fatty acids for healthy mobility and skeletal development. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil, among other ingredients, which are present in the food. They claim the food has DHA – Docosahexaenoic acid, a specific kind of omega-3 fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, sperm, testicles and retina. The company also says the food has optimal levels of vitamins C and E to build immune system protection. And, they claim the food has high quality chicken protein with natural ingredients and no chicken by-product meal. High quality protein builds lean muscle and helps puppies maintain ideal body condition.

We have no problem with most of these claims. These ingredients appear to be in the food and scientific research backs up these claims.

This food compares very favorably to Hill’s Ideal Balance™ Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Puppy Dog Food. It does contain corn, wheat, and soy which are problematic for some dogs. However, it does not contain pea protein concentrate which is featured in the Hill’s Ideal Balance food. The protein, fat, fiber, and carbohydrate percentages are very similar. Other elements in the guaranteed analysis are also similar.


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Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown

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 puppy has problems with chicken you’ll need to avoid this food but most puppies don’t show allergy problems until they are several months old.

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.

Pork Meal – Pork is used more often in dog foods than many people realize. Pork, in general, is 81 percent protein and 19 percent fat. It’s a good source of Vitamin C, Niacin, Phosphorus and Zinc, and a very good source of Vitamin B12, Iron and Selenium. In a meal form, it will have most of the moisture removed so it will be condensed and have several times as much protein as the whole form of pork. Most dogs love the taste of pork.

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.

Whole Grain Corn – Whole grain corn has an estimated 7 percent protein, 11 percent fat, and 82 percent carbohydrates. It has an assortment of vitamins and minerals and a lot of omega-6 fatty acid. Corn gluten meal can have as much as 60 percent protein on an as fed basis. Corn gluten meal can often boost the protein percentage in a dog food but it’s a plant protein so it’s not always as easy for dogs to digest as animal sources of protein. However, corn isn’t a “bad” ingredient. It’s only when it predominates in a food, keeping the food from having enough animal protein, that it really becomes a problem. Or, if you don’t like grains in general, then you’re not going to like corn and some other grains, such as wheat. However, there’s no particular reason to avoid it in small to moderate amounts for most dogs and puppies.

Overall, these ingredients seem to meet some of the company’s claims about the food. They provide good meat protein in chicken meal and pork 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.

See How Our Review Compares To These Customer Reviews


Additional Ingredients of Interest

Aside from the top five ingredients, there are several other notable ingredients found in Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Dog Food. Some of these ingredients include: whole grain sorghum, pork fat, corn gluten meal, dried beet pulp, fish oil, flaxseed, soybean oil, oat fiber, various natural flavors and an assortment of dried fruits and vegetables. 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 food also contains pork fatchicken liver flavor and pork liver flavor. We don’t have a problem with these ingredients. Pork fat is a named fat and dogs love it. In fact, pork fat is 96 percent fat and 4 percent protein. It’s loaded with Omega-6 fatty acid. We’re not crazy about flavors added to dog foods but chicken liver flavor and pork liver flavor are named and identified. They probably add some additional moisture to the food but, as far as we know, they aren’t 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. You will also find fish oil in this food. Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid which is good for your dog’s skin, coat, joints, and many other nutritional needs. 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 contains soybean oil which can also be problematic. It has many of the same issues as flaxseed. (Source) 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 thyroid problems (such as hypothyroidism), soybeans can also create trouble. If your dog takes a thyroid hormone or synthetic hormone for hypothyroidism, for example, soybean products can prevent his system from absorbing the medication properly.

The food also has 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 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.

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 and l-lysine. 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-lysine is often added to dog food to help with weight control. 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.

Guaranteed Analysis

(Science Diet already figures for dry matter basis)
Protein ….. 30.4
Fat ….. 19.8
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 39.8
Crude Fiber ….. 1.8
Calcium ….. 1.58
Phosphorus ….. 1.2
Sodium ….. 0.50
Potassium ….. 0.79
Magnesium ….. 0.118
Vitamin C ….. 317 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 663 IU/kg
DHA ….. 0.182
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Total ….. 1.13

Calories Content

371 calories per 8 oz cup

Nutritional Adequacy Statement

Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Original 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 30.4 percent protein and 19.8 percent fat. These are above average protein and fat percentages for puppies (recommended percentages for puppies are 28 and 17 percent, respectively). Fiber makes up 1.8 percent of the food which is a very low percentage. The food contains 39.8 percent carbohydrates which is lower than many foods.


We like the animal protein in this food and the protein and fat percentages. It does contain a lot of grains but the overall carbohydrate percentage is less than 40 percent and that’s very low for a popular dog food. We don’t like all of the ingredients but this puppy food compares very favorably with Science Diet’s other puppy foods, some of which cost more. Recommended.

Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Original has received our above average 4 paw rating, making this a higher quality dog food.

This review was last updated on 1/17/2016

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