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Dog Food Insiders Rating
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 Small & Toy Breed
Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Wheat, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Soybean Mill Run,Pork Fat, Soybean Meal, Flaxseed, Soybean Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Dried Carrots, Dried Spinach, Dried Grape Pomace, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Citrus Pulp, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Oat Fiber, Lipoic Acid, Choline Chloride, Iodized Salt, 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), L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors
The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley,Whole Grain Wheat andBrewers Rice. These ingredients would indicate a good source of animal protein and a lot of carbohydrates, with some fiber. They aren’t too different from the other Science Diet Mature Adult foods.
According to the company this food is recommended for Mature Adult dogs 7 years of age or older that weigh up to 25 pounds when full grown. The company says the food provides vitamins C and E for immunity to help support long life expectancy. They say the food will give your dog more energy and vitality in 14 days. They claim the food has omega-6 fatty acids and other nutrients to improve skin and coat in 30 days (compared to grocery store dog foods). And they claim the food has high quality chicken protein with natural ingredients and no chicken by-product meal.
The company also mentions that they include L-carnitine to help your dog with “youthful vitality” and to help maintain his ideal weight.
We have no problem with these claims, although it’s hard to say how the company measures “youthful vitality.” This seems like a very subjective goal. Some owners might observe a change in the behavior of their mature adult dog while others might think their dog is not acting very different. L-carnitine is often added to dog foods to help with weight loss and to help turn fat to muscle.
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. 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 but it shouldn’t be a problem for most dogs.
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 cracked pearled 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 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. Among dogs who have food allergies, wheat is a common allergen, but most dogs are able to eat it without any problem.
The fifth ingredient is brewers rice. It’s 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. Brewer’s rice is used as a source of fiber in many 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 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 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 food also contains several soybean products which are troubling: soybean mill run, soybean meal, and soybean oil. AAFCO defines soybean mill run as follows: “Composed of soybean hulls and such bean meats that adhere to the hulls which results from normal milling operations in the production of dehulled soybean meal.” This is an inexpensive byproduct of human food processing, commonly referred to as ‘floor sweepings’. An inexpensive filler with no real nutritional value. This is not a good ingredient in your dog’s food. Soybean meal is the solid residue or flour that’s left after grinding the soybeans to extract soybean oil. It’s widely used as a filler and source of protein in animal feed. It can contain up to about 48 percent protein. But it’s not a good ingredient for your dog. Soybean oil is used in cooking, as a salad oil, and in animal feeds. All of these soy products can cause problems for dogs (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 any thyroid issues such as hypothyroidism or if he takes thyroid medication, you should talk to your veterinarian about whether it’s okay to feed a food that contains soy products. Some foods will interfere with your dog’s ability to absorb the medication (just as with people).
The food also contains pork fat and chicken liver flavor. We don’t have a problem with these ingredients. Pork fat is a named fat and dogs love it. 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 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 contains 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 has Dried Carrots, Dried Spinach, Dried Grape Pomace, Dried Tomato Pomace, and Dried Citrus Pulp. Carrots and spinach might add some vitamins and minerals, or a little taste to the food. The grape pomace, tomato pomace, and citrus pulp are sources of fiber. (Some sources cite these as filler ingredients.) They also add a lot of vitamin C to the food. This food contains a lot of fiber. Much more than just about any of Science Diet’s other foods. In fact, the food has so much fiber that you should probably pay attention and see if your dog has any gastrointestinal problems with the food.
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. It’s also a natural antioxidant or preservative.
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. L-carnitine comes from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It helps the body turn fat into energy, among other things.
(Science Diet already figures for dry matter basis)
Protein ….. 18.9
Fat ….. 14.7
Carbohydrate (NFE) ….. 55.0
Crude Fiber ….. 5.4
Calcium ….. 1.16
Phosphorus ….. 0.7
Sodium ….. 0.21
Potassium ….. 0.79
Magnesium ….. 0.146
Carnitine ….. 330 ppm
Vitamin C ….. 291 mg/kg
Vitamin E ….. 973 IU/kg
353 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Science Diet Mature Adult Small & Toy Breed Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains 18.9 percent protein and 14.7 percent fat. These are low levels of protein and fat, especially for a quality dog food. Fiber makes up 5.4 percent of the food which is a very high percentage. The food contains 55 percent carbohydrates which is very high.
Keeping in mind that this food is for a mature adult small breed/Toy dog, we think the protein and fat percentages here are too low. The carb percentage is very high and the fiber percentage is extremely high. We are also concerned that this food has a lot of low quality filler ingredients. Not recommended, despite Science Diet’s guarantees.
Hill’s Science Diet Mature Adult Small & Toy Breed Dog Food has received our 1 paw rating.
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