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.
List of Ingredients Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe for Mature Adult Dogs
Chicken,Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Barley, Brewers Rice, Yellow Peas, Chicken Fat, Chicken Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Flaxseed,Vegetable & fruit blend (Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli), Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Iodized Salt, 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),Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Caroten, Natural Flavors
The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Barley, and Brewers 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 mature dogs aged 7 years and older. The company claims that the food has fresh chicken as the number one ingredient to provide lean protein for keeping your dog slim and trim. They say the food has brown rice to provide natural fiber for healthy digestion. They say the food has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to improve your dog’s skin and coat – guaranteed or your money back. And they say the food has no corn, wheat or soy, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Hills’ also say the food has vegetables as a source of vitamins and minerals, including apples for vitamin C and cranberries as antioxidants. They also refer to flaxseed as a source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to improve your dog’s skin and coat.
We have no problem with most of these claims. However, the food has less omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than many of Hills’ other foods. It especially has less omega-3 fatty acids per the guaranteed analysis. As for artificial flavors, the food does have “natural flavors” added which is often monosodium glutamate (MSG), though we cannot say with certainty that it’s MSG in this case. The added vegetables are found in a vegetable and fruit blend midway through the ingredient list. They may provide vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants, but we note that there are vitamins and minerals added to the food.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The first ingredient in the food is chicken. This is usually whole chicken so it contains a lot of moisture. Without the moisture, this ingredient would come much farther down the ingredient list. Later in the list the food also contains 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.
The second 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.
The third ingredient is whole grain oats. Oats are a good source of dietary fiber, Thiamin, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Manganese. They are 70 percent carbohydrates, 15 percent protein, and 15 percent fat. Whole grain oats can be harder to digest but they also stay in the digestive tract longer and provide a sense of fullness. They release their carbs slowly into the bloodstream.
The fourth ingredient is whole grain 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 fifth ingredient found here is brewers rice. Brewers rice is 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. It is often used in pet foods. Brewer’s rice is used as a source of fiber in dog foods. Used in moderation it adds texture and structure to dog food.
Overall, these ingredients seem to meet some of the company’s claims about the food. They provide a good meat protein in chicken 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.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
One ingredient which causes us concern, especially for older dogs, 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. We have concerns about older dogs being able to digest this ingredient well enough to obtain good protein and other nutrients from it, especially considering that this food only has 20 percent protein total (dry matter basis). If some of this measured protein is yellow peas, that leaves an even lower percentage of animal protein for your older dog to digest and animal protein is usually easier for dogs to digest than plant protein. This is not sounding like a food that provides good protein for your older dog.
The food also contains chicken fat and chicken liver flavor. We don’t have a problem with these ingredients. Chicken fat is a named fat and dogs love it.. It’s loaded with Omega-6 fatty acid. We’re not crazy about flavors added to dog foods but chicken liver flavor is named and identified. It probably adds some additional moisture to the food but, as far as we know, it’s 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 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 has a Vegetable & fruit blend (Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli). The company says these vegetables add vitamins and minerals and that the cranberries add 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.
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.
Fat ….. 15.0
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 57.0
Crude Fiber ….. 1.7
Calcium ….. 1.08
Phosphorus ….. 0.7
Sodium ….. 0.35
Potassium ….. 0.91
Magnesium ….. 0.118
Vitamin C ….. 162 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 599 IU/kg
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Total ….. 0.47
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Total ….. 3.13
374 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Ideal Balance Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Mature Adult Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains 20 percent protein and 15 percent fat. This is a rather low protein percentage for a quality dog food. The fat percentage is also low. Fiber makes up 1.7 percent of the food which is a very low percentage. The food contains 57 percent carbohydrates which is extremely high.
This food has lower protein and fat percentages and a very high carbohydrate percentage. There is no particular reason to feed an older, mature dog a low protein diet. In fact, most experts believe that older dogs need more protein, not less. That protein should include good quality meat protein. We are concerned about the lower protein percentage in this food for older dogs and the fact that some of it comes from plant protein (yellow peas, for example). Although the food says it provides plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for good skin and coat, we think the levels in this food are also rather low.
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