Jul. 7, 2015

Science Diet Dog Food Reviews

Top 5 Ingredients*
  1. Whole grain corn

  2. Soybean mill run

  3. Chicken by-product meal

  4. Powdered cellulose

  5. Corn gluten meal

Artificial IngredientsYes
Contains By-productsYes
Price Range$$$
*Science Diet Adult Light Dry Food was selected as the recipe for this ingredient list
What's good about this pet food
  • animal protein (sometimes)
What's not so good about this pet food
  • corn
  • animal by-products
  • animal fat
  • food coloring

Our Analysis

While some owners have expressed satisfaction with Science Diet dog food, the brand has recently come under fire for exaggerated claims and questions about the quality of its ingredients.

Hills Science Diet, the company that manufactures Science Diet, claims that the food is recommended by veterinarians and contains high-quality ingredients, but many have found these claims to be misleading.

The company uses many questionable ingredients, such as animal byproduct and some artificial ingredients.

Furthermore, while Science Diet is more expensive than many other dog food brands, its highest volume ingredient is ground corn.

Many owners also report that their dogs have experienced allergic reactions to many of the ingredients in Science Diet, most notably its corn and many processed ingredients.

Overall, Science Diet has relatively low user ratings, and many owners complain that it does not live up to its descriptions and price. Still, others state that their pets have experienced no adverse reactions to the food.

The Word on the Street...

Science Diet Dog Food is one of the more expensive brands available at “big box” stores, though it is highly recommended by veterinarians. Oddly enough, though, it is generally considered to be a strictly “middle of the road” brand by most dog owners. Both the dry and canned foods only contain a rather moderate portion of meat, and the food itself generally seems to be filler. Dogs in general may or may not like the product, though it seems that most animals tolerate Science Diet about as well as any other form of kibble.

In general, it seems that consumers would be happier with the product if the price was a bit lower. It has similar ingredients to most major dog foods, but costs over twice as much as some of the more popular brands. Science Diet is definitely not a bad choice for dogs, but it might be a bad choice for your wallet.

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Grain Content
Rating for Science Diet Dog Food:
4.0 / 10 (70 votes cast)
  • Phil

    I fed my Bullmastiff Science Diet Dry dog food. This food caused horrible skin lesions, hair loss, bladder crystals and finally bladder cancer which killed him. My second Bullmastiff was fed the same food as it was recommended by my vet. This new dog developed the same symptoms. After extensive research I found this food to be preserved in Ethoxaquin (forgive the spelling). This chemical is a known carcinogen. It’s original use was to harden rubber during the manufacturing of TIRES!! And Hills put this in their food?!! I took my dog of this food and all lesions and bladder crystals disappeared. If you love your dog DO NOT FEED THEM THIS GARBAGE!

  • Jessica

    I have a 5 Month old Siberian husky. I got him at 6 weeks old and started him on blue buffalo wilderness. After taking him for normal vaccinations, the vet highly recommended science diet large breed puppy so I switched and didn’t think to research or question anything. My puppy went through the first bag and seemed to be fine. Bought the second bag at the End of april… may 9th I took him to the vet due to severe vomiting (threw up 7 times in a matter of 4 hrs) and was very lethargic. Vet kept him over night with I.v. fluids and meds, picked him up the next day at 2, the vet explained to me that a normal liver count for a dog was between 8 and 75, his count was 338… he sent me home with an antibiotic to help his liver and to calm his g.I. track. When we got home, he seemed to be fine and I fed him the rest of the wet dog food they sent home with him. The next day, I started to give him the science diet puppy food again, he would not touch it, he didn’t eat anything for the next 2 weeks, had to force feed him baby formula, Pedia light, blended up chicken and rice … I have seen 2 vets and a specialist and everything was tested normal, blood work normal, liver back to normal-I’m guessing bc of the meds, he has had all vaccinations and on regular heartgard and nexgard… no one could figure out the reason, they wanted me to spend 2000 on surgery to search for blockage that didn’t show up on xrays, I did not have the Money to do so, have been doing all I can at home to help him get through this. Vets have told ne to prepare for the worst, and that they didNt think he had much more time if i didnt take action. I have considered putting him down due to the fact I had No idea what to do with no money to do it and could not stand to see him so miserable… luckily I did not and have waited it out.
    It is now may 21st, all together my once thick husky has lost about 15 lbs, completely skin and bones. I went to a friend’s house this past weekend and she has 4 other dogs, I borrowed some of her Purina wet dog food, he still wouldn’t eat until the other dogs came around and then he was ready to fight over it, I got the dogs away and I guess he felt a sence of urgency to eat so the other dogs wouldn’t get it… but after that, he ate the purina wet food for the rest of the weekend, he has had regular bowel movements, no vomiting and his energy is back up and I am starting to see my puppy act like a normal husky puppy again. We got home yesterday, and today he ate some of the science diet on his own and acting lethargic again… so it hit me, it had to be the science diet puppy dog food… I started researching today and have already read at least 4 other cases similar to mine. I don’t know how I can, but would love to prove that this dog food has done this to my dog and take legal action.

  • David

    After our vet recommended it, my dog ate the old version of this kibble for several years with complete satisfaction. The formula changed drastically in April 2014. The new version comes in a heavy plastic bag instead of the old multi-layer bag. The bag is better but the kibble is worse. It used to look like the bland kibble it is, but now it has dark brown streaks that must be intended to look like “gravy”. To me it screams falseness and artificiality.

    That would not be a fatal problem, except that my dog has not been happy on the new formula. He has been lacking in energy and spirit, which is really unusual in a wire fix terrier. He’s not at all eager to eat this stuff, unlike the old version. I’m switching him to a quality meat/rice formula (he’s happier already) and will not buy Science Diet again.

  • Veronica Hambric

    My dogs hair is falling out and her skin is peeling after feeding her science diet adult light.

    • sandy alexander

      I was feeding science diet fit.The last bag I purchased gave him gas with belly grows and diarrhea.took him to vet and as soon as I put him back on the food upset is back.i got on line I see others are experiencing the same thing with active fit science diet.

  • Shirley Johnson

    I have maintained my dogs on science diet dry with some moist for 20 years. I am increasingly distressed by the amount of saturated fat I have to scrape off the food on the outside edges and top/bottom of moist food cans. This am I even opened a can of light and it was full of either animal fat or lard. I have no problem with the dry foods. I guess I feel the quality of the wet food is not nearly as good for the dogs for the price as it used to be. I’ve always scraped fat off the food, but it’s getting to be a highter percentage seemingly all the time. Also, why is there so much corn in the light food. I live in a small town and we don’t have access to a lot of high quelity moist foods. I have always been a supporter of Science, but am dissapointed in science diet moist food. I tried the chunks in gravy, but it’s mostly gravy. I want a strictly health moist food to supplement with. Could you recommend a healthier choice of moist food in Science Diet, I am willing to pay more for a higher quality of food.
    Thank you,

    Shirley Johnson

  • Beverly

    I got my first pup , a Maltese at 3 months old. I fed her Fish4dogs puppy food for approxately 4 months. It had a strong fishy odour, her breath stinks, I brush her teeth every single day but it stains her teeth terribly. She didn’t like her food and she runs away fr the smell of it. She does have ultra sensitive skin and one day, my veteriAn recommended science diet.

    I bought the one specialized for small breed and did a slow transition as instructed. Supposingly fish4dog is a lower grade brand but things got worse. She started vomiting and she lost weight. She’s almost 1 year old and she still weighs 2kg ! She looked aneraxic. I realize she had difficulty pooping. It’s seems like she’s Laying pebbles. Her tear stain was horrendous after the change and well, I would say , terrible choice !

    Many people recommend wellness. Definately gonna make a switch and hope it goes well for Maltese .

  • Zero is 18

    As the proud, loving owner of an 80 lb black lab mix who astounds others that he is 18 years old and going strong, let me praise Science Diet. I have fed my Zero Science Diet since I adopted him from the dog pound 13 years ago. I just took him for a 6 months check-up (at 18, I do not want to go 1 year without him having exams, blood tests to identify any problems early on). Once again astounding my vet, Zero is very healthy and his tests are good for any 10 year old dog — totally amazing for an 18 year old 80 pound lab. Zero does get good exercise running my 20 acres and lots of love from me. Yet, “you are what you eat”. I attribute Zero’s exceptionally long healthy life to Science Diet! By the way, I “free feed”, always keeping food in Zero’s dish,; he eats when he wants knowing it is always there when he wants it. He has never been overweight.

  • JESS


    • Joan

      What kind did you give the dog is there a diabetic one or low fat which one do I buy?

  • Tammi

    I have always had a schnauzer and I know they have sensitive stomachs about 2 years ago my oldest got sick (blood in stool) the vet put him on one of the science diet blends the vet sells. After awhile I started just buying the science diet at the store (toy small dog) I recently adopted two more and about 6 mo. ago I started noticing them hesitating to eat. I take the can SD heat up smash it into the hard food and serve it. It has gotten to where they will not even eat it. The big clue was when I got upset and took all three of their dinners over to a neighbor who has an outside big dog (I give him treats alot but he is fed DRY OLROY) he went to eat it then stopped smelled of it then came over to see if I had a treat. I googled science diet food and found this site, I haven’t read everyones comments on this food but I’ve heard enough, I feel so bad that I was making them eat this food thinking it was such a great quality. I will mention I did switch them to Wellness and they reacted the same way. I’m going to try and find a couple on here that looked promising but I’m in a rural area and unfortunately the options are somewhat limited. Thank you for taking the time to tell your stories and help me clear up my problems… I’m sure my dogs thank you too!

    Tammi, Tazie, Topper, and Toto

  • Dena

    I have always gotten Science Diet Adult(toy breed)for my dog but, recently they added vitamins to the food and my dog would not eat it she didn’t even want to stick her nose in it.
    I soon realized why when I stuck my nose in it .It stunk I mean stunk like tar. Please do not put your dog through the torture that I put mine through.

  • Julie

    I came on here for dog food reviews, not to read a bunch of whiney comments from veternarians trying to justify recommending the same garbage for every single dog in the world.
    Thanks for the reviews everyone.
    I guess vets who push this crap think every dog is the same.

  • KiteWidow

    My 11 week old Shi Poo, seems to become possessed approx 30 min after eating. It’ll last 60-90 min. “Spaz”, running uncontrollably through the house. Mean and bitey, growling. Forget commands. And seems to have a potty accident as well. He has no control and forget commands.
    When we first got him the pet store recommended Science Diet.
    Does this sound like an allergy? Has anyone else ever had this experience after a feeding? He gets a 1/3 cup 3 times a day with water.
    Appreciate the comments.

    • Amanda

      I’m not an expert, but I’d say you should maybe have his blood sugar levels tested…maybe this is causing either a diabetic or hypoglycemic reaction of some sort. No idea about allergies, as the symptoms for those tend to show up in a lot of funky ways depending on the dog.

  • Mel

    I give this food 1/5.

    Do not buy this food (unless it is the grain free formula, and even then I would consider another brand). If your dog has allergies, go to another brand that specifically formulated for allergens. Buy Natural Balance Grain-Free, Blue Basics, Wellness Simple, or any grain-free dog food. If you’re willing to go online, buy Acana or Orijen.

    S.D. has great marketing, but a little research will show you that other brands of food are better fitting for your needs.

    I started my dog on Wellness and a vet pushed me to switch to Science Diet. In case you haven’t learned this yet, Science Diet endorses a lot of veterinarian schools and clinics. They do not learn about nutrition in school, or what they learn is very little.

    I was 18 and it was my first dog, of course I trusted the vet. Corn is often the first or second ingredient. This food is equivalent to Beneful. My dog gained 10 lbs on this food and it took months for me to get the pounds off her. It’s so easy for dogs to gain weight on this food. Just be careful. It’s a lot of money too – it’s just not worth it…

    • Lynn

      You can’t be serious. Beneful? have you read those ingredients? Do you have the actual nutrition profile? Do you know the calorie content? have you read the feeding directions. You probably treat your dog, fail to read the feeding guidelines and have someone in your house providing extra food. Give me a break. It’s the best food on the market and the only one that can back every single claim with research!

  • John Nobody

    We have a new poptop can to replace the old. The old was 13 oz. The new is 12.8.
    Old protein: 5.5%. New protein 4.5%.
    Same price.
    Old 10 lb. dog needs 3/4-1 can. New 10 lb. dog needs 1-1 1/3 can.

    Why should I keep buying this stuff iat the same price if the nutrition is cut and the price stays the same?

  • Dee

    After dental surgery I was advised by my Vet to feed my dog Hillis Prescription Diet. Even though she had done very well on Wysong Nurture I decided to follow my Vets suggestion. One week later she developed hot spots – and after three weeks on meds. (diagnosis – perhaps medication from her surgery) I finally suspected the dog food. She has been off it for 1 week now and cannot come to a definite conclusion but signs indicate the dog food is the culprit here. I am not comfortable with the ingredient list of the Hillis food so I am going back to Wysong. I will discuss this with my Vet but I do not have any intention of returning to Hillis.
    Moral – if she is doing very well why change? My bad decision her suffering.

  • Laura

    We were recommmended by our pets Foster Parent to get Science Diet for our 2 yr old Shar-Pei Pointer Mix Shadow that we had just adopted. Per her advise we did so. With-in 3-4 days Shadow woke up one morning not his usual happy jumpy kissie self. Then we noticed that he was not wanting to eat any of is food and had no interest in treats. Let me tell you that boy loves his treats!! So we took him to the vet and he had a fever and a urinary tract infection. We were given antibiotics and some special food. Once we ran out of the special medicated food we once again gave him the Science Diet, just to see how it went, because we just werent sure if that was the cause of everything. Well this time it only took 2 days and he was already showing signs of larghy and lack of intersest in food and treats. We have decided to taked Science Diet Back and have exchanged it for a more natural food. While we were at the store we had a lady come up to us and say “Never buy Science Diet it killed two of my dogs!” and a manager of the store came over and said that she wld not recommend Science Diet to anyone. That all it is is OLE ROY repackaged with a giant price hike. There have been lots of complaints of allergy type complaints that we have read on line. I wld not recommend this food to anyone and it really disguste me that the vets get paid really good money to endorse this product that is out there making our dogs very ill and in some cases even killing them. BEWARE!!!!

    • maralevine

      I am sorry that you had to go through this Laura. Have you found a food that you are happy with?

    • kalena

      I seriously doubt that persons dogs were killed by this food. I actually would look to more outside issues before food being blamed as a killer. I don’t know what Ole Roy is, but it’s not Science Diet. Science Diet has been around since 1939, so someone needs a history lesson.

      As for you, if you convince yourself that it’s the food, no matter what the real cause is, it will always be food. Science Diet has always had a natural line, why didn’t you try that instead of trusting some unformed random person? Most people will trust anything piece of marketing put in front of their face without looking into the real truth. Sad.

  • http://dortonj@machlink.com John

    We’ve been feeding our pug dog Science Diet Lite small bites for a long time. It seems to agree with him except he has skin allergies and I think the corn in the food may aggravate his condition.

    Also the last bag of food we bought had a very strong odor that none of the bag of food had before. The smell was not like kerosene but strong and similar. Could you comment on my concerns.

    • Kalena

      Then switch to Ideal Balance natural food. However, most allergies are environmental. Most other “high quality’ pet foods are high in phosphorus, sodium and lack the proper levels of vitamin E, some don’t have any. Most of what you hear from these new designer companies is not true and is all marketing. I also don’t trust this site as they are not impartial nor nutritional experts with knowledge of properly balance pet nutrition.

  • Diana

    My pups, Casey & Toby, love Science Diet Healthy Developement Original Puppy Food.. They chose it over all the rest, from cheapest to most expensive.. Because they are so picky, I had to try them all.. I am very pleased with the results.. It has improved their coats to a gorgeous shine, and smooth skin with no dander.. A big improvement over their previous puppy food, with results within days.. They are perky, happy- go-lucky, the softest & shiniest ever, and just all around healthier.. Casey, Toby, & I highly recommend Science Diet to all puppy owners.. I believe u won’t be disappointed.. It is a brand I truly trust.. 😎

  • Laura

    I rescued a German Shepherd who had epilepsy, constant intestinal issues, bad gas, skin infections. He had been raised on Science Diet.
    My vet recommended keeping him on science diet – in fact – that’s what they sold.
    I kept asking my vet – is engineered corn really what my dog is supposed to be eating? They said it’s been scientifically proven. After 6 months of dealing with repeated antibiotics for diarrhea and horrible gas, I ignored my vet and slowly switched to Taste of the Wild. Every dog is different – I think mine had corn allergies. He became more alert, no more diarrhea, less seizures, less skin infections.
    I also switched vets.

  • Lindsay

    Regardless of whether your dog does well on the food or not, it doesn’t erase the fact that you pay for a brand name and a whole lot of corn. Corn is often the first ingredient of many formulas and if it isn’t, you are paying more (such as the lamb formula). Vets recommend this food because Science Diet sponsors these vets and pays for their schooling. I’d stay away from a company swayed.

    • Mike

      How do you know vets are paid to endorse this product? Or are you just speculating and perpetuating rumors?

    • Bob

      Its no different then your family doctor getting free samples from drug companies. Your doctor gives those out for patients to try. Doesn’t mean they are being bought off by the drug rep. Sure the vet may get SD product at a reduced price to sell but that is in every business. They do not pay for any vets schooling. They may have Vet school scholarships available, but that is a far cry from buying them off.

      • Kaitlyn

        Hills may not pay for individuals schooling but they sponsor and pay for tons of veterinary programs and do give vets incentives for pushing their products in their practices. Its not a speculation, look it up. Plus, having a vet tell you that fact to your face makes you believe it as well.

    • kalena

      This is not true. Science Diet authors research papers and chapters in text books based on actual nutritional research. That’s why vets feel comfortable recommending it. They study the research from this and many other companies. You should really not spread such rumors unless you know the facts.

      • Patsy

        My almost 17 year old lab mix dog has been on Science Diet for most of her life. Very healthy still and I think good food and good care has kept her in our lives for all these years. Best dog we’ve ever had.

        • Susie

          I read the Dr. Fox column, and he seems to be against Science Diet, so I was trying to do a little research. When my 2 year old Golden Retriever was a pup, I had him on a mix of Wellness (even more expensive) and Science Diet. He developed bouts of pooing in his crate overnight and was on antibiotics several times and my vet advised switching him gradually to SD W/D. He cleared up and I eventually moved him to SD Lite Large Breed, which is close to W/D but not prescription. He has been fine and he loves it (I think he’d love any food, although sometimes he won’t take a milkbone treat if someone offers him one). Hard to know the best thing in the dog world!

More Information

Who makes Science Diet?

The company who makes Science Diet dog food is called Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Aside from Hills Science Diet, Hills Pet Nutrition also makes Hills Prescription Diet formulas, which can only be purchased after obtaining a prescription from a veterinarian.

Hill’s is coming out with a new line of dog food called Hill’s Ideal Balance. Read about it here.

Science Diet Dog Food Recall

Though none of the Science Diet dog food formulas were involved in any recalls, several of the Feline formulas were recalled in 2007. The affected brands were several of the Hills Science Diet Feline Savory Cuts.

Science Diet Allergies

Dogs with food allergies may experience symptoms from some of the ingredients contained in Science Diet dog food. Common allergens include corn-derived ingredients, chicken (or other protein-specific allergens) and soy ingredients.

Science Diet Recipes

Science Diet Dry Recipes:

Science Diet Canned Recipes:

  • Science Diet Canned Food
  • Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Beef and Chicken
  • Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Gourmet Beef
  • Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Gourmet Turkey
  • Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness Savory Chicken
  • Science Diet Adult Light
  • Science Diet Mature Adult Active Longevity Gourmet Beef
  • Science Diet Mature Adult Active Longevity Gourmet Turkey
  • Science Diet Mature Adult Active Longevity Savory Chicken
  • Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Savory Chicken

Science Diet Consumer Info

Where can I buy Science Diet?

Are you wondering, “Where can I buy Science Diet dog food?”. To assist you, we have included links on the specific Science Diet formula pages to purchase Science Diet dog food.

How much Science Diet should I feed my dog?

A common issue that many pet owners may wonder, is “How much Science Diet dog food should I feed my dog?”. Since the answer is dependent on several factors (such as your dog’s age, weight, activity level, etc) always follow the specific instructions on your formula’s packaging.

Have you fed your dog any of the Science Diet dog food dry or canned formulas? Do you have feedback that could help other pet owners? Please share your review of Science Diet dog food!

Ingredient List*

Science Diet Dog Food Ingredient List

*for Science Diet Adult Light Dry Food

Science Diet Coupons

Science Diet Coupons

More Science Diet Coupons…