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Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Large Breed Review

Dog Eating
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 User Reviews For All Science Diet Puppy Blends


 

 


List of Ingredients in Hills Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Large Breed

Chicken, Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Oats, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein Concentrate, Yellow Pea Flour, Chicken Liver Flavor, Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat, Fish Oil, Lactic Acid, Vegetable & fruit blend (Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli), Iodized Salt, Potassium Chloride, 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, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Beta-Carotene, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors.


 

Ingredients Overview

The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Oats, Cracked Pearled Barley and Chicken Meal. 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 puppies up to 1 year old who will weigh over 55 pounds when they are adults. The food is available exclusively from veterinarians and, as with Hills Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy, 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.

The ingredients in this large breed puppy food are virtually identical to those in Science Diets Healthy Advantage Puppy food, though they are arranged in a slightly different order. This probably indicates that some of the ingredients are used in different amounts. The food has slightly fewer calories than the Healthy Advantage Puppy food – 417 instead of 470 in an 8 ounce cup. It has the same percentage protein (approximately 30 percent), but the large breed formula has less fat and more carbohydrates – 16 percent fat compared to 21.6 percent; and 45.5 percent carbs compared to 39.6 percent in the Healthy Advantage Puppy formula.

Obviously, this food for large breed puppies is trying to keep these puppies from gaining too much weight while they grow and this is considered to be good for their health. Large breed puppies who grow too fast or carry too much weight while they are young are more at risk for having joint and skeletal problems later in life. Being overweight is unhealthy for all dogs but it can specifically shorten the lives of large breed dogs. The calcium to phosphorus ratio here is also correct for large breed puppies. According to the guaranteed analysis, the food also has large amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate which may or may not help growing large breed puppies avoid joint problems later in life.



See User Reviews For All Science Diet Puppy Blends
 


 

The ingredients in this large breed puppy food are virtually identical to those in Science Diets Healthy Advantage Puppy food, though they are arranged in a slightly different order. This probably indicates that some of the ingredients are used in different amounts. The only two ingredients we could identify that are present in this food for large breed puppies that are not present in the Healthy Advantage Puppy food are the two amino acid compounds – L-Lysine and Taurine. Taurine is often added to dog foods to help prevent heart problems, among other things, and we note that some large breed dogs can be susceptible to heart issues. L-Lysine helps the body build protein.

The food has slightly fewer calories than the Healthy Advantage Puppy food – 360 instead of 387 in an 8 ounce cup. It has the same percentage protein (approximately 31 percent), but the large breed formula has less fat and more carbohydrates – 17 percent fat compared to 23 percent; and 42 percent carbs compared to 33 percent in the Healthy Advantage Puppy formula. Obviously, this food for large breed puppies is trying to keep these puppies from gaining too much weight while they grow and this is considered to be good for their health. Large breed puppies who grow too fast or carry too much weight while they are young are more at risk for having joint and skeletal problems later in life. Being overweight is unhealthy for all dogs but it can specifically shorten the lives of large breed dogs.

The calcium to phosphorus ratio here is also correct for large breed puppies. According to the guaranteed analysis, the food also has large amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate which may or may not help growing large breed puppies avoid joint problems later in life.



See User Reviews For All Science Diet Puppy Blends


 

Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown

The first ingredient in this food is whole grain corn. Coupled with the corn gluten meal farther down the list, this means the food contains quite a bit of corn but, if your puppy isnt allergic to corn, this shouldnt be a particular problem. The food obviously contains a lot of carbs from grains. 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. Corn as a first ingredient is usually considered to be a bad sign in a food since ingredients are listed by weight before cooking. We dont automatically condemn all foods that contain grains but its always better to see foods that emphasize animal proteins.

The second ingredient is chicken by-product meal. Chicken is a very good ingredient in dog food. Its about 80 percent protein and its a good source of Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Niacin and Selenium. Its also a good source of glucosamine for joint health. A meal, such as this, already has most of the moisture removed so it contains even more protein than ordinary chicken by-products. However, chicken by-products (in this case, the meal) is considered to be a less desirable ingredient than either whole chicken or chicken meal. According to AAFCO, chicken byproduct meal: “consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.” Chicken is “the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.” In other words, chicken by-products will include the organs. Your dog probably wont mind, but many people prefer their puppies and dogs to only eat the external flesh of the chicken or the meat parts.

The third ingredient is corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal is derived from corn but its not actually a gluten. It is a by-product of corn processing that contains corn proteins. Its often used in pet food as well as livestock feeds. 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. Its called a “gluten” simply because thats industry jargon. Corn gluten meal typically contains higher amounts of protein than ordinary corn which is one reason why its added to pet food. It can contain as much as 60 percent protein on an as fed basis.

The fourth ingredient here is liver flavor. While its good that this flavor is identified (unlike “natural flavors” which often refers to monosodium glutamate or MSG as a flavor), its very unusual to see a flavor in the top five 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. But why is it the fourth ingredient? How bad does the food taste without it? You would probably be correct in thinking that this ingredient adds few nutrients to the food.

The fifth ingredient is dried beet pulp. Its unusual to see a fiber such as this one in the first five ingredients and we almost never see dried beet pulp in the first five ingredients. Its not a bad ingredient. In fact, its a good ingredient in dog food. But it is unusual to see it so prominent in the ingredients. 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. We think its likely that the dried beet pulp is used in this food in larger quantities instead of the powdered cellulose (“vegetable fiber”) thats used in the Healthy Advantage Puppy formula. We like this change a lot better.

Overall, these ingredients seem to meet some of the company’s claims about the food. However, some of these ingredients are unusual ingredients to find in the first five ingredients of a dog food or a puppy food. The food combines carbs from corn and corn gluten meal with animal protein from chicken by-product meal (and corn gluten meal). And the other top five ingredients are for flavor and fiber.



See User Reviews For All Science Diet Puppy Blends
 


 

Additional Ingredients of Interest

Aside from the top five ingredients, there are several other notable ingredients found in Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Large Breed Dog Food. Some of these ingredients include: pea protein concentrate, flaxseed, dried egg product, dried beet pulp, chicken fat, fish oil, vegetable and fruit blend, and a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements.

Pea protein concentrate 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 concentrate, 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 concentrates 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 concentrate 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.

Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid but its 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 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. 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.

Chicken 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 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 its commonly found in lots of foods such as red meat, dairy products, and some fruits and other plants. Its 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. Its a building block of protein. It also plays a major role in calcium absorption and the bodys 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. 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. Its 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.

Guaranteed Analysis

(Science Diet already figures for dry matter basis)
Protein ….. 31.0
Fat ….. 17.2
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 42.5
Crude Fiber ….. 2.3
Calcium ….. 1.14
Phosphorus ….. 0.9
Sodium ….. 0.57
Potassium ….. 0.78
Magnesium ….. 0.111
Carnitine ….. 398.9 ppm
Vitamin C ….. 347 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 853 IU/kg
DHA ….. 0.213
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Total ….. 1.76
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Total ….. 3.96
Chondroitin Sulfate ….. 1510 mg/kg (ppm)
Glucosamine ….. 855 mg/kg (ppm)

Calories Content

360 calories per 8 oz cup

Nutritional Adequacy Statement

Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Large Breed Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for growing puppies.

Dry Matter Basis

On a dry matter basis, this food contains 31 percent protein and 17.2 percent fat. This is an above average percentage of protein and a moderate percentage of fat. Fiber makes up 2.3 percent of the food which is a low percentage. The food contains 42.5 percent carbohydrates which is a moderately high percentage of carbohydrates.

Summary

We like this food a lot more than the Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy food. It has the same benefits advertised by the company without the powdered cellulose. While we dont necessarily like all of the ingredients in the food, it looks like it would be a nutritious food for large breed puppies.

Science Diet Healthy Advantage Puppy Large Breed Dog Food has received our 4 paw rating.

This review was last updated on 1/17/2016

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