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Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food Review 2023: Recalls, Pros & Cons

Hills-Science-Diet-Puppy-Healthy-Development-Small-Bites-Dry-Dog-Food review

Review Summary

Our Final Verdict

We give Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars.

Introduction

If you’ve got a growing pup, you know how important it is to give them the best fuel possible. Hill’s Science Diet puppy foods are a great choice because of the company’s research-backed approach to nutrition. With over 200 nutrition experts weighing in on their recipes, this company is an industry leader for good reason! If you’re interested in Hill’s Science Diet foods, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons to help you choose.

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divider-dog pawAt a Glance: The Best Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food Recipes:

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Development Dog Food Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Development Dog Food
  • Nutritionally balanced
  • Easy-to-digest chicken meal
  • Healthy whole grains
  • Second place
    Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Recipe Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Recipe
  • Optimized for large breed puppies
  • Promotes healthy bone growth
  • Healthy whole grains
  • Third place
    Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws
  • Designed for small breed puppies
  • Nutritionally balanced
  • Chicken meal as first ingredient
  • Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Savory Stew Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Savory Stew
  • Stew consistency
  • Puppy like the taste
  • Promotes gentle and healthy digestion
  • Hill’s Science Diet Chicken and Barley Hill’s Science Diet Chicken and Barley
  • Savory meaty taste your puppy will love
  • High-quality protein
  • Build immunity and mobility
  • Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food Reviewed

    Who Makes Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food and Where Is It Produced?

    Hill’s Science Diet is owned by Colgate-Palmolive and made in the United States. Its production plant is in Topeka, Kansas. In addition to producing food, Hill’s Science Diet also has a hospital and nutrition center staffed by over 200 vets and scientists dedicated to researching canine nutrition.

    Which Type of Puppy Is Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food Best Suited For?

    Hill’s Science Diet has food options available for most puppies. They have healthy, balanced foods for puppies of all sizes and breeds. They’re especially perfect for puppies with health conditions and sensitive stomachs, as they have well-researched food options for a variety of health restrictions.

    Which Type of Puppy Might Do Better with a Different Brand?

    Although most puppies do well on Hill’s Science Diet food, some would do better on other brands. Especially high-energy dogs and dogs without digestive issues might do better on foods with higher protein and a greater variety of ingredients, like Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food or Country Vet Naturals Puppy Food.

    Discussion of the Primary Ingredients (Good and Bad)

    Ingredients are key to nutrition. Hill’s Science Diet recipes all vary slightly, but there’s enough overlap that looking at one recipe can give us an idea of what to expect. We’ll study their Puppy Healthy Development Dry Food’s main ingredients here.

    Chicken Meal

    Chicken meal is a concentrated chicken source that’s an excellent protein source. Chicken meal is high in protein and generally good quality. Chicken is great for most puppies because it’s easy to digest. Some dogs do have allergies to chicken proteins. Most Hill’s Science Diet puppy foods have chicken, but at least one recipe uses lamb instead.

    dog eating roasted chicken
    Image Credit By: Tatjana Baibakova, Shutterstock

    Grains

    After the chicken meal, the next several ingredients are all grains—whole grain wheat, cracked barley, whole grain sorghum, and whole grain corn. Whole grains are ideal for promoting good digestion and nutrition in moderate amounts. All four of these grains are healthy choices. However, the inclusion of grains as four of the top five ingredients makes this recipe a little carb-heavy.

    Chicken Fat

    Chicken is a little lower in fat, so it’s supplemented by added chicken fat lower down in the ingredient list. Chicken fat is a common meat-based fat source that’s great for puppies. Unlike chicken proteins, chicken fat isn’t an allergen.

    senior dog eating chicken
    Image Credit: Sophie Louise Davis, Shutterstock

    Omega Acids

    Flaxseed and fish oil are common sources of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. These are great added nutrients that will help your puppy grow and develop into a healthy dog.

    Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants

    This food has all the necessary vitamins and antioxidants to keep your dog going all day. It doesn’t appear to have chelated minerals—that’s a type of mineral that’s easier to digest. It also doesn’t have any probiotics or healthy bacteria that support gut health.

    Dog Eating Chicken
    Image credit: Tatjana Baibakova, Shutterstock

    Hill’s Science Diet Philosophy: Research Over Ingredients

    Something you might often notice in looking at Hill’s Science Diet food reviews is that they have a philosophy of prioritizing research into making nutritionally balanced food over sourcing natural, varied ingredients. This approach has both pros and cons. All of their foods have been put through rigorous tests to make sure that dogs are healthy when eating it. This approach is especially ideal for dogs with digestive or other dietary issues, where you can be sure extensive testing has shown that their food really does help.

    Their philosophy is also great for avoiding trend-following that isn’t backed by research. For example, many premium dog foods advertise the benefits of grain-free foods that often use potatoes, lentils, and other ingredients in the place of grains. However, research on grain-free diets has shown that they don’t offer health benefits to most dogs and can sometimes be dangerous. Hill’s Science Diet has only used grain-free recipes in certain limited diet foods.

    However, Hill’s Science Diet does sometimes neglect to put the highest quality ingredients into their foods or ensure that their foods are nutritionally optimized. Their “healthy enough” approach to nutrition has drawn criticism for using byproducts and excessive low-nutrition fillers in some of their recipes. Although they can show that their food meets a dog’s nutritional needs, that might not mean it’s the healthiest food out there for its price.

    A Quick Look at Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food

    Pros
    • Nutrition backed by serious research
    • Options for various health needs
    • Avoids unhealthy “trends”
    Cons
    • A little low in protein
    • Some recipes use byproducts
    • Slightly pricey

    Recall History

    There have been a few recalls related to Hill’s Science Diet in the past. In most cases, no illnesses were reported. The most recent Hill’s Science Diet recall was in  2019, when they pulled several canned foods from the shelves because of potential elevated vitamin D. There were no reports of illness due to this recall.

    In 2015, they recalled a few canned foods due to mislabeling.

    In 2014, 62 bags of adult dry food were recalled due to a possible Salmonella contamination. No illnesses were reported.

    Hill’s Science Diet was involved in a major recall in 2007 along with over 100 other brands. This recall was because of contamination by melamine, a chemical found in plastics that caused dogs to sicken and die. It’s unknown how many of these deaths were caused by Hill’s Science Diet food.

    Reviews of the 3 Best Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food Recipes

    1. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites Dry Dog Food

    Hill's Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites Dry Dog Food

     

    Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development food is their frontrunner puppy food, made for puppies of all sizes and breeds. It’s recommended for puppies up to one year of age. The main meat source in this food is chicken meal, a healthy choice for most dogs that is easy to digest. It also uses small amounts of flavoring from pork liver. The main grains in this food are whole grain wheat, barley, sorghum, and corn. It has a 25% protein content and a 15% fat content. This is above the recommended minimum of 22%, but it’s not as high as some brands. That combined with the fact that four of the top five ingredients being grains suggests it’s a little carb heavy. Despite this, it’s a great choice for most growing puppies. This food is great for a healthy brain, eyes, immune system, and skeletal development.

    Pros
    • Nutritionally balanced
    • Easy-to-digest chicken meal
    • Healthy whole grains
    • Supports healthy growth
    Cons
    • A little low in protein and high in carbs

    2. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal & Oat Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal & Oat Recipe Dry Dog Food

    If your dog’s on the bigger side, you might want to consider Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed food. This food is optimized for bigger dogs, with calcium balanced for the extra bone growth and other nutrients to help your big pup get bigger. It has basically the same ingredients as the Healthy Development dog food, with chicken meal, whole grains, and chicken fat providing the main base, but the proportions are slightly different. This makes it even a little lower in protein and fat—only 24% protein and 11% fat. This slight shift is still within the normal range for puppy food, but it does show that the large breed food is fairly carb-heavy.

    Pros
    • Optimized for large breed puppies
    • Promotes healthy bone growth
    • Healthy whole grains
    • Easy-to-digest chicken base
    Cons
    • Carb heavy
    • Lower in protein and fat

    3. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food

    Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley, and Brown Rice

    Smaller breed puppies will thrive on Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws food. Small breeds may need fewer calories, but they still have plenty of energy, and this food is packed with good nutrients. It is at 24.5% protein and 15% fat—about the same as their Healthy Development food—but the ingredients list is slightly different. Chicken meal and chicken fat still provide the main protein and fat sources, but the grains are split up to include brown rice as well. Brown rice is a healthy whole grain that is easy to digest.

    Pros
    • Designed for small breed puppies
    • Nutritionally balanced
    • Chicken meal as first ingredient
    • Healthy whole grains
    Cons
    • A little lower in protein and higher in carbs

    What Other Users Are Saying

    We love to cross-check with other reviewers to help you get an idea of what is best for your pup. Here are a few places you can look:

    • HerePup: “Hill’s Science is in many ways a cut above other popular brands.”
    • Pet Food Guru: “We see Science Diet’s Puppy Healthy Development Original Formula as a strictly “middle of the road” formula—not too great, and not too bad.”
    • Amazon: It’s also important to see what other owners think of any product. You can get an idea of what others think by reading Amazon reviews found here.

    divider-dog pawConclusion

    As you can see, Hill’s Science Diet dog food is great for puppies because of its balanced nutrition, but it isn’t perfect. Some owners might prefer to have more variety in proteins and foods that are lower carb and higher protein for their puppies. However, we can definitely recommend Hill’s Science Diet for growing puppies and their mothers, and we are excited to see what research comes from the Hill’s Science Diet labs next.

     

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