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® Mature Adult Active Longevity Original
Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brewers Rice, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Corn, Pork Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Oil, Corn Gluten Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Dried Beet Pulp, Lactic Acid, Potassium Chloride, Pork Liver Flavor, Flaxseed, 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), Iodized Salt, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Oat Fiber, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, L-carnitine, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors, Dried Apples, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries, Dried Peas
The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brewers Rice andBrown Rice. These food would indicate a good source of 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 is precisely balanced and easy to digest. They say that the food has “key nutrients” to restore your dog’s “youthful energy” in 30 days. They also claim that the food is enriched with omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E to improve skin and coat in 30 days (compared to previously feeding grocery store brands of food). They also say that the food contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joints and mobility. And, they state that the food has high quality chicken protein with natural ingredients and no chicken by-product meal. On their web site they also refer to the food having l-carnitine.
We have no problem with these claims. It looks like the food has all of these ingredients as described. Whether it can restore your older dog’s “youthful energy” in 30 days, we don’t know.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The first ingredient in the food is 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. It’s 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 whole grain wheat. Some dogs have digestive issues with wheat but it can be a good ingredient in dog food. 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 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 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.
The fifth ingredient in the top five 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.
Overall, these ingredients seem to meet some of the company’s claims about the food. They provide a good meat protein in chicken 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.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
The food also contains whole grain corn. Corn isn’t necessarily a bad ingredient but in this case this food is beginning to look very carbohydrate-heavy. Whole grain corn may be hard for some dogs to digest. It’s 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. The food also has corn gluten meal later in the ingredient list. Corn gluten meal has more protein but it’s also another source of carbs. Added to all the other grains in the food, the food contains a great deal of grain and carbohydrates.
The food also contains cracked pearled barley, another grain. 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 food also contains pork fat, chicken liver flavor, and pork liver flavor. We don’t have a problem with any of these ingredients. Pork fat is a named fat and dogs love it. Pork is used in dog food more than most people realize. Pork fat also contains 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 are 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 features 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 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.
One ingredient we don’t like much is soybean oil. It has many of the same issues as flaxseed (read more here).
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.
The food also has Dried Apples, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries, Dried Peas which could be for taste. They are too far down the ingredient list to add much nutrition.
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, l-lysine, and l-carnitine. 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. L-lysine and L-carnitine are 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.
We note that, according to the guaranteed analysis, the food does contain high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin. However, as usual, if you want to make sure your older dog gets an adequate amount of these supplements, you are better off buying them yourself and giving them to him so you can be sure that he is getting the right dosage.
Protein ….. 19.3
Fat ….. 15.0
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 58.6
Crude Fiber ….. 1.7
Calcium ….. 0.80
Phosphorus ….. 0.7
Sodium ….. 0.20
Potassium ….. 0.96
Magnesium ….. 0.107
Carnitine ….. 330 ppm
Lysine ….. 1.25
Vitamin C ….. 330 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 823 IU/kg
Chondroitin Sulfate ….. 1311 mg/kg (ppm)
Glucosamine ….. 339 mg/kg (ppm)
365 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Science Diet® Mature Adult Active Longevity Original 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 19.3 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 58.6 percent carbohydrates which is extremely high
This food has lower protein and fat percentages and a very high carbohydrate percentage. It is supposedly formulated for mature active dogs (to help them live a longer life). We have problems with this food for that concept. Active dogs – even older dogs – need more protein and calories from fat, not fewer. A lot of the calories in this food come from carbs. We would recommend a different food for your older, active dog that has more protein and calories from fat. On the other hand, if you have an older dog who is on the chubby side, and who is not as active, this food might be suitable.
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