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 Ideal Balance Grain Free Natural Chicken & Potato Recipe for Adult Dogs
Chicken, Potato, Yellow Peas, Pea Protein Concentrate, Potato Starch, Chicken Fat, Chicken Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Flaxseed, 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, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors
The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken, Potato,Yellow Peas, Pea Protein Concentrate, and Potato Starch. Chicken is a good first ingredient in the food for animal protein. Since this is a grain free dog food, the starches in the food come from other sources. Here we have potato and potato starch. The food also has yellow peas and pea protein concentrate in the first five ingredients which contain plant source of protein, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber.
According to the company this food is recommended for adult dogs between the ages of 1 and 6 years of age. You will note that this food is called “Ideal Balance” and not Science Diet. It’s marketed as a natural dog food, though “natural” has no real meaning in dog food terms. It’s merely an advertising term. The company lists the following benefits for the food:
Chicken to provide lean protein to keep your dog slim. Vegetables for vitamins and minerals. Apples for vitamin C. Potatoes, which are gluten-free and easy to digest. Flaxseed to provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and improve skin and coat – guaranteed or your money back. And cranberries for antioxidants to provide good bladder health. The company also says the food has no grain, no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
We don’t have any problems with most these claims, although we do note the inclusion of “natural flavors” in the food and they aren’t defined. The food doesn’t contain a lot of vegetables such as you would find in your grocery store produce section. Instead, it has a “vegetable & fruit blend” midway through the ingredient list. This is also where you find the apples and the cranberries. And more peas.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The first ingredient in the food is chicken. This usually refers to whole chicken so it contains a lot of moisture. If the moisture were removed this ingredient would be found lower in the list. 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. The food also contains chicken meal a little farther down the list. Chicken meal has 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. With chicken as the first ingredient, that means there is more chicken in the food, by weight before cooking, than any other ingredient in the food. 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.
Potatoes are the second ingredient. They are used here as a carbohydrate source instead of grain. While it’s true that potatoes are gluten free, it’s virtually unheard of for dogs to have a problem with gluten. That’s a human health issue, not a canine problem. (There is one study of one family of Irish Setters in the 1990s that claims to have identified Celiac disease in the dogs, but that’s the only case known.) Lots of dogs have digestive problems, but gluten problems aren’t on the list. Dogs can be allergic to wheat or other foods that contain gluten, but that’s not the same thing. Still, potatoes are not a bad dog food ingredient. Potatoes are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese but they are also 92 percent carbohydrates. They are 7 percent protein and 1 percent fat.
The third ingredient is yellow peas. Yellow peas are a variety of field pea. When split, you probably know them as split peas (yellow or green). They have been studied for feeding to agricultural animals such as pigs to see if they could replace soybeans in the diet. Yellow peas are less processed than split peas. They have very little fat but they are high in protein and carbohydrates and a source of dietary fiber. They’re a good source of manganese and some other minerals. Large amounts of peas in dog food can be hard for some dogs to digest.
The fourth ingredient is pea protein concentrate. 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. But you should be aware that this food passed AAFCO for the company based on nutrient profiles instead of using animal feeding trials. We would be more comfortable if animal feeding trials had been used. If your dog does have problems with the food, it might be because of this ingredient.
The fifth ingredient is potato starch. This ingredient is considered separately from potatoes. It’s processed from potatoes, as you might guess. It’s mostly carbohydrates with very small amounts of dietary fiber, fat, and protein. It has about 40 calories per tablespoon. It does supply lots of fast energy when eaten. Potato starch is often used as a thickener in human foods; and it has non-food uses such as a glue or wallpaper paste, among other things. Again, when a food is grain free, things like potato starch are another source of carbs.
Overall, these ingredients seem to meet some of the company’s claims about the food. They provide whole chicken as an animal source of protein and lots of peas and pea protein concentrate as plant sources of protein. Potatoes and potato starch are carbohydrate sources.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
The food also contains chicken fat which is a good, named fat source in dog food. It’s also a good source of Omega-6 fatty acid.
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 contains chicken liver flavor. The addition of flavors to food always makes you wonder why they are necessary and they usually mean the addition of some water to the food but this is a named flavor (chicken liver), which makes it better than “natural flavors” which is an unknown. Natural flavors, at the end of the list, is often monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is also added to human foods.
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. We also note that experts generally agree that fish sources of omega-3 fatty acid are superior to plant sources.
The food also has a vegetable and fruit blend – Vegetable & fruit blend (Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli) – which could be added for taste or for a few vitamins and minerals. The company says that the apples are added for vitamin C and the cranberries are an antioxidant for bladder health. These claims are possible but we note that the company also adds chemical sources of vitamin C to the food. Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, and many minerals like selenium, lycopine and zeaxanthin are also antioxidants and this food contains some of these ingredients.
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. As mentioned, it’s also an antioxidant. Antioxidants are natural preservatives, among other things.
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.
Protein ….. 24.2
Fat ….. 20.1
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 47.8
Crude Fiber ….. 1.5
Calcium ….. 0.95
Phosphorus ….. 0.8
Sodium ….. 0.35
Potassium ….. 0.91
Magnesium ….. 0.108
Vitamin C ….. 179 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 577 IU/kg
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Total ….. 0.65
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Total ….. 3.66
419 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Ideal Balance Grain Free Natural Chicken & Potato Recipe Adult Dog Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog FoodNutrient Profiles for maintenance of adult dogs.
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains 24.2 percent protein and 20.1 percent fat. This is a moderate protein percentage but the fat percentage is rather high compared to the protein percentage. Fiber makes up 1.5 percent of the food which is a very low percentage. The food contains 47.8 percent carbohydrates which is high.
The large amount of yellow peas and pea protein concentrate in this food raise red flags for us, especially considering the moderate overall protein percentage in the food (24 percent). A lot of this protein is plant-based instead of animal-based. We’re also a little concerned because of the protein to fat ratio here. We would like to see more animal protein in this food, especially with 20 percent fat. If you like a grain free dog food, you might try this food, but we think you can find better grain free foods for your dog.
Hills Science Diet Ideal Balance Grain Free Natural Chicken & Potato Recipe for Adult Dogs has received our 2½ paw rating making this a slightly below average dog food.
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