What Is in Science Diet Pet Food?


Hill’s Science Diet has been a top brand of pet food for decades. Science Diet dry pet foods vary slightly in formula but share most ingredients. For dogs, Hill’s Science Diet has formulae for active dogs, large breeds, sensitive skin, weight control, promotion of digestive health, oral care, skin care and sensitive stomachs. A mixture of animal proteins, vegetable proteins, fiber, oil and fat are what you find in Science Diet pet food. A general understanding of how to read pet food labels will help consumers understand what is in Science Diet Pet Food.

Understanding the Food Label

Ingredients are listed on a food label by weight. The top ingredient is the one that weighed the most, not the ingredient that is the highest percentage. Born Free USA, united with the Animal Protection Institute, points out that when chicken, for example, is listed as the top ingredient in a dry pet food, it is simply because raw chicken weighs more than the chicken and bone meal that accompanies it for the same proportion.

Top Ten Common Ingredients

Comparing three formulae of Science Diet puppy food finds these ingredients listed in the top 10 ingredients of more than one formula: Soybean meal Pork fat or animal fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid) Dried egg product Flaxseed Dried beet pulp Natural flavor Cracked pearled barley Brewers rice Ground wheat Corn gluten meal Vegetable oil Dried beet pulp

Top Ten Specialized Ingredients

Depending on the formula, other ingredients will be in the top 10 listed ingredients, such as the following: Lamb Lamb meal Turkey meal Chicken Chicken meal Brown rice Rice flour Whole grain wheat Powdered cellulose Peas Carrots Natural flavor

Other Ingredients

Rendering meat and meat by-products to make them safe for consumption (cooking to a temperature of 270°F/130°C) breaks down many of the nutrients in the meat, and so vitamin and mineral supplements must be added. Comparing three formulae of Science Diet puppy food finds these other ingredients in common (in differing order):

Cracked pearled barley, whole grain oats, apples, cranberries, fish oil, peas, carrots, soybean oil, iodized salt, broccoli, vitamins (L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), vitamin E supplement, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, potassium chloride, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), DL-methionine, L-tryptophan, taurine, L-threonine, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid, beta-carotene, rosemary extract and L-lysine

Ingredients not in common between the three formulae compared include dicalcium phosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate, chicken liver flavor, iron oxide and magnesium oxide.


Hill’s Science Diet was involved in a large recall of canned pet foods in March 2007. Many brands of canned pet foods are manufactured at the same place, including Science Diet. Wheat gluten and concentrated rice protein from China had been contaminated with melamine and cyanuric acid, leading to kidney failure in dogs and cats who ate food containing these tainted ingredients. Other top brands, such as Iams and Eukanuba, were also affected by these unauthorized chemicals. The FDA received over 17,000 reports of animals sickened by these contaminants in over 100 Menu Foods pet food brands.

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