What's Really In The Bag: Hill's Science Diet
Updated: Apr 30
This is in no way, shape, or form meant to bash any brand. This is simply empowering you with the information you need to make the best decision for you and your pets! While a fresh food diet is always favorable, it is understandable that not everyone can feed 100% raw. But by knowing what you are feeding and continuously doing better, you are taking steps in the right direction.
The food under analysis is Hill's Science Diet Adult Perfect Digestion Dog Food. The first 5 ingredients on the label will be featured below.
"Chicken, Cracked Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Meal, Chicken Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Pork Flavor, Ground Pecan Shells, Soybean Oil, Lactic Acid, Potassium Chloride, Flaxseed, Dried Beet Pulp, Dried Citrus Pulp, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate. Fish Oil, Pressed Cranberries, Pumpkin, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene."
Ingredients show on the ingredient label based on water weight. Since chicken is around 73% water weight, it will most likely fall as the 6th or 7th ingredient rather than the first. There is no specific information on where Hill's sources their chicken. Chicken is the most common food allergen due to the poor quality of conventionally raised chicken. The poor quality diet the chicken is fed transfers to the poor quality of the meat.
 Cracked Pearled Barley
Cracked Pearled Barley is produced when the seed hull and bran are removed from barley grain. This is not considered a whole grain.
 Brown Rice
The 3rd ingredient is plain brown rice. Rice is high in the glycemic index, which increases insulin levels. This is metabolized as sugar and creates inflammation.
 Brewers Rice
Brewer's Rice is exclusively sold to the pet food industry. It is a cheap and low-quality filler added to boost protein content and bind the kibble together. Brewer's Rice is made out of small milled fragments (5/164 of an inch) of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice. “Dust” and “floor sweepings” from rice.
 Whole Grain Oats
Whole oats are used as an alternative to wheat as wheat is a common allergen. While it is a "whole grain," oats also have are not biologically appropriate for long-term feeding.
The first 5 ingredients are primarily carbohydrates. A heavy carbohydrate diet (high glycemic) creates inflammation. High GI foods inducing hyperglycemia which causes oxidative stress and increases inflammation. This affects the body's insulin signaling, which can lead to insulin resistance.
2 out of the 5 first ingredients are rice-based. The University of Helsinki conducted a study of Staffordshire Terriers, which tested the arsenic levels in fur on a rice-based diet. The results concluded that dogs fed a rice-based diet had up to 3.5X higher arsenic levels than raw fed dogs. While there is no indication that a rice-based diet is toxic due to humans' negative effects, one cannot ignore the possible effects on dogs. Especially given they are eating them in larger quantities and lower-quality if they fed a rice-based kibble. Rice is a common filler and saves costs.
Whole Grain Corn & Corn Gluten Meal: Whole grain corn includes the kernel, while corn gluten is the dried residue of corn after the bran's separation. Corn is not easily digested and is a common allergen.
Dried Beet Pulp: Beet pulp is high in certain nutrients such as calcium, but it is still a plant source. It is often used to supplement horses.
Synthetic Vitamins & Minerals: The large amount of synthetics added to the food translates to the food's poor nutrient density and quality. Not too long ago, Hill's Pet Food's huge recall was made due to toxic amounts of Vitamin D in dog food. Some food had over 70 times the recommended amount of Vitamin D. Too much of any nutrient can have negative effects.
This food is primarily made of high-glycemic inflammatory plant foods. The little animal foods that are used are shown to be poor-quality. Although they claim this food is for "perfect digestion," the ingredients show that it does the exact opposite. This food feeds off of their marketing and shows no innovation or health consciousness.