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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 Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small & Toy Breed Light
Chicken Meal, Pea Bran Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Corn, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Soybean Oil, Lactic Acid, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, 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), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Oat Fiber, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Beta-Carotene, Phosphoric Acid,Natural Flavors, Dried Apples, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries, Dried Peas
Initial Thoughts About Science Diet Adult Small & Toy Breed Light Dog Food
Science Diet claims that this food is intended for dogs between 1 and 6 years of age; and that weigh up to 25 pounds when fully grown and who require fewer calories – dogs that are less active, spay/neutered, or otherwise prone to weight gain. According to the company, this food has basically the same benefits as Hills’ Science Diet Adult Small and Toy Breed dog food but it has 19 percent fewer calories. The food is supposed to supplement the immune system by providing plenty of vitamins C and E. According to Science Diet, the food has a clinically-proven antioxidant blend with their highest levels of vitamins C+E “to promote a healthy immune system that supports your pet between vaccinations.” However, the company does not make claims about the food containing lots of Omega-6 fatty acids or improving the dog’s skin and coat or offer a moneyback guarantee. They do make the same claims about the food containing high quality protein.
In addition, Science Diet says that the food contains L-Carnitine to help convert fat into energy. This ingredient is often found in weight control dog foods. They also say that the food will satisfy a dog’s hunger because it contains “natural vegetable fibers.” With this food and other Hills’ Science Diet foods we find this to refer to Pea Bran Meal and Powdered Cellulose. We have some doubts about these ingredients. They may be filling for dogs but they mean that the food contains over 13 percent crude fiber. For many dogs, this leads to problems with diarrhea and flatulence. As with other Science Diet “light” foods, this one is approved by AAFCO based on nutrient profiles and not on feeding trials, unlike their other foods. This food could help some dogs lose weight but if your dog has trouble digesting this food, it’s probably because of these problematic ingredients and you should find another food. The food also contains a very low 9 percent fat which can leave many dogs feeling unsatisfied when they eat a food with so little fat.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken Meal, Pea Bran Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Wheatand Corn Gluten Meal. Chicken meal is a good source of protein for dogs but most of these ingredients are grains/carbs. Pea bran meal is mostly fiber. These ingredients might be filling for a small dog but they could also cause some digestive issues.
The first ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken is about 80 percent protein and it’s a good source of Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Niacin and Selenium. Since this is chicken meal, it’s had most of the moisture removed, meaning it is a condensed form of the chicken protein and a good source of protein for dog food. As long as your dog is not allergic to chicken, this is a quality source of protein that would be good for small dogs.
The second ingredient is pea bran meal. Pea bran meal is an animal grade fiber made from pea hulls. It has a total dietary fiber content of around 83 percent and protein content around 7 percent. It’s used as a fiber additive in pet foods. As part of a pet diet it reduces blood sugar and provides roughage. However, pea fiber can be a problem ingredient in dog food for some dogs. Pea fiber isn’t always easily digested by dogs and can result in increased waste and some gastrointestinal issues. Peas in general can also interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the food.
The third ingredient is 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.
The fourth 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.
The fifth ingredient is corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal is derived from corn but it’s not actually a gluten. It is a by-product of corn processing that contains corn proteins. It’s often used in pet food as well as livestock feeds. Let me repeat: corn gluten meal contains no gluten. It has nothing to do with the kind of glutens you find in breads or other foods that contain glutens. If your dog is allergic to corn, he will be allergic to corn gluten meal because of the corn protein. But it has nothing to do with gluten. Corn gluten meal typically contains higher amounts of protein than ordinary corn which is one reason why it’s added to pet food. It can contain as much as 60 percent protein on an as fed basis. Coupled with the whole grain corn later in the ingredient list, it means that this food contains quite a bit of protein from corn.
Overall, the first five ingredients in this food feature good animal protein (chicken meal) and a lot of carbs from grains. That doesn’t concern us as much as the pea bran meal which provides a lot of fiber and which can be hard for many dogs to digest. So, while these first few ingredients do provide some good nutrition, and they can be filling for small dogs, we worry that there might be digestive problems.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
The food also contains cracked pearled barley. This ingredient has been polished to remove part of its hull and bran; and to make it easier to digest. Keep in mind that the more it’s processed, the more nutrients it loses, even if it makes it easier to digest. It has a moderate amount of starch that can be slowly digested, along with soluble fiber.
The food also contains whole grain corn. 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.
The food contains 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. We understand that weight control dog foods need to make dogs feel full without adding calories, but we think dog owners should be careful about foods containing cellulose (read more here).
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.
This food contains soybean oil and it has many of the same issues as flaxseed (read more).
Soybeans are a good source of protein and fat and they are low in carbs but some dogs are allergic to them. They are also a source of phytoestrogens and they can cause many of the same problems as flaxseeds and flaxseed oil.
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.
The food also contains oat fiber. Again, Science Diet says that oat fiber is another prebiotic fiber that helps with good intestinal health. Oat fiber is 100 percent carbohydrates and it’s very high in sodium. However, it is a good source of dietary fiber.
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.
Finally, we notice that the food contains some interesting additives toward the end of the ingredient list. 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. 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.
Unlike Hills’ Science Diet Adult Small and Toy Breed dog food, this food doesn’t contain a lot of sources of vitamin C, though it does contain some dried vegetables added at the end of the ingredient list. According to the guaranteed analysis it contains slightly less vitamin C and a lot less vitamin E than the other food.
Protein ….. 24.9
Fat ….. 9.0
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 47.1
Crude Fiber ….. 13.3
Calcium ….. 0.87
Phosphorus ….. 0.7
Sodium ….. 0.35
Potassium ….. 0.80
Magnesium ….. 0.134
Carnitine ….. 351 ppm
Vitamin C ….. 248 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 710 IU/kg
297 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Science Diet Adult Small & Toy Breed Light 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 24.9 percent protein and 9.0 percent fat. This is an average protein percentage and a very low fat percentage. Fiber makes up 13.3 percent of the food which is very high. The food contains 47.1 percent carbohydrates which is a very high percentage.
We don’t recommend this food because of the addition of pea bran meal and powdered cellulose. Otherwise, the food is similar to Hills’ Science Diet Adult Small and Toy Breed dog food. We believe that a crude protein percentage of 13.3 percent is too high, and a fat percentage of 9 percent is too low. Many dogs will probably have digestive problems with this food or continue to be hungry between meals.
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