Science Diet is one of the most popular dog food brands on the market today. With dozens of recipes across different product lines, Science Diet aims to offer scientifically formulated and veterinarian-recommended pet foods.
But how does Science Diet stack up against the competition? This comprehensive Science Diet dog food review will examine Science Diet’s key product lines, recall history, ingredients, and more to help you determine if Science Diet is the right choice for your dog.
An Overview of Science Diet Dog Food
Science Diet is owned by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, which was founded in the 1930s by Dr. Mark Morris. Dr. Morris created the first “prescription diet” for kidney disease in dogs, laying the groundwork for Science Diet’s reputation for veterinarian-recommended and scientifically formulated pet foods.
Today, Science Diet offers dozens of dry food, wet food, and treat recipes across four primary product lines:
- Science Diet – Science Diet’s standard product line offers recipes for puppies, adults, seniors, small breeds, and large breeds. Both grain-inclusive and grain-free recipes are available.
- Science Diet ProHealth – ProHealth recipes are designed to support dogs with specific health conditions like joint health, sensitive stomach, skin sensitivities, and weight management.
- Science Diet Perfect Weight – Formulated for weight loss and maintenance for overweight dogs. Emphasizes lean proteins and natural fibers.
- Science Diet Youthful Vitality – Recipes designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of dogs ages 7 and up. Contains antioxidants and controlled mineral levels.
Within each product line, recipes are tailored for puppies, adults, seniors, small breeds, large breeds, and dogs with specific health conditions. Both dry kibble and canned wet food options are offered.
Science Diet Dog Food Review
To better understand the quality and value of Science Diet’s pet foods, let’s take a deeper look at some key factors including ingredients, recall history, and what experts and buyers have to say.
Ingredients Used in Science Diet Dog Food
The quality of a dog food starts with the quality of its ingredients. Science Diet relies on these main ingredient types:
Proteins – Chicken, lamb, turkey, salmon are commonly used. Emphasizes lean proteins.
Carbohydrates – Brewers rice, whole grain wheat, corn, barley are typically used. No grain-free recipes.
Fruits & Vegetables – Variety of produce like peas, carrots, apples, blueberries.
Supplements – Vitamin and mineral supplements added. Some formulas have glucosamine, chondroitin, omega fatty acids.
Most Science Diet recipes contain grain ingredients like corn, wheat, and rice. Meat is always the first ingredient but corn and brewers rice are typically second or third. Compared to premium brands, the meat content may be lower.
Science Diet recipes also commonly contain by-product meals rather than whole meats. The inclusion of by-products and grains puts Science Diet at a mid-tier quality level according to most experts.
All dog food brands have faced recalls at some point, but fewer incidents is best. Here is an overview of Science Diet’s recent recall history:
- Feb 2022 – Science Diet and Prescription Diet canned dog foods recalled due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D. 70 pet deaths linked to the recall.
- March 2019 – Recall of Science Diet and Prescription Diet canned dog foods due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D.
- June 2014 – Three canned cat food recipes recalled due to low levels of key vitamins.
- August 2010 – Recall due to potential salmonella contamination.
The February 2022 recall of popular Science Diet canned recipes was worrying. However, the company was transparent about the issue and put safeguards in place to prevent reoccurrence. Overall, Science Diet has a decent recall history compared to many big brands.
Dog food experts at PetFoodTalk.com, TopDogTips.com, and elsewhere generally consider Science Diet to be a mid-tier quality brand with some standout specialty formulas.
The emphasis on natural fibers, lean proteins, precise nutritional ratios, and veterinarian involvement are seen as positives. However, the heavy grain content in most recipes along with by-product ingredients puts Science Diet behind premium competitors like Orijen and Acana in ingredient quality.
Most experts agree that while not a bad choice, there are better options for the price.
Reviews of Science Diet dog food by real buyers are very mixed. On retail sites like Chewy.com and Amazon, reviews average around 3 out of 5 stars.
Many buyers praise the brand for helping their dogs lose weight or improving skin/coat health. Dogs seem to find the kibble very palatable. However, a sizable amount of buyers experienced gastrointestinal issues after switching to Science Diet. Many also complain that the formulas are overpriced for the quality.
Science Diet pet foods are priced above average for what most buyers consider a mid-tier brand. A 30 lb bag of adult dry food costs $50 to $70 at most major retailers. Science Diet canned food also costs $3 to $4 per can on average.
Comparable brands like Iams and Purina ONE can be found for 15-25% cheaper. And premium brands with better ingredients like Fromm and Orijen can sometimes cost the same or only slightly more. This makes the value of Science Diet’s pricing questionable to many buyers.
Science Diet Product Line Reviews
To give a more detailed analysis of Science Diet’s offerings, let’s review some of their most popular recipes across the different product lines:
Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin
- Best For – Dogs 1 year and older with sensitive digestion or skin allergies
- Key Ingredients – Lamb meal, brown rice, cracked pearled barley, whole grain corn
- Notable Features – Grain-inclusive, nutritionally precise ratios, includes prebiotic and antioxidant blend
- Recall History – Not part of any recalls
- Reviews – 78% of buyers recommend it. Dogs seem to tolerate it well.
This formula swaps chicken for lamb to avoid common allergens. The focus on gentle grains like rice and barley can soothe sensitive stomachs. It’s a good choice for easily-digestible nutrition but the heavy grain content is a downside.
Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites
- Best For – Puppies 1-2 years old, 5-50 pounds
- Key Ingredients – Chicken meal, whole grain wheat, whole grain corn, corn gluten meal
- Notable Features – DHA for brain development, precise protein/carb/fat ratios for growing puppies
- Recall History – Not part of any recalls
- Reviews – 71% of buyers recommend it. Some report digestive issues.
Made with smaller kibble for toy and small breeds. Provides complete puppy nutrition but the corn, wheat, and by-product content is less than ideal. Budget-friendly but there are higher quality puppy foods available.
Science Diet Perfect Weight Adult
- Best For – Overweight adult dogs
- Key Ingredients – Chicken meal, whole grain wheat, cracked pearled barley, whole grain corn
- Notable Features – Clinically proven for weight loss in dogs, natural fiber for satiety
- Recall History – Not part of any recalls
- Reviews – 82% of buyers recommend it. Most dogs steadily lose weight.
This reduced calorie formula relies on fibers rather than fillers to promote feelings of fullness. The emphasis on lean proteins like chicken meal rather than fattier meats also helps dogs slim down. It produces noticeable weight loss results for most dogs.
Science Diet Youthful Vitality Adult 7+
- Best For – Senior dogs ages 7 years and up
- Key Ingredients – Chicken meal, brewers rice, whole grain corn, pork fat
- Notable Features – Features lower fat, extra glucosamine, and controlled phosphorus/sodium levels
–Recall History – Not part of any recalls
- Reviews – 74% of buyers recommend it. Some finicky senior dogs seem to enjoy the taste.
Made to meet the changing nutritional needs of aging dogs. The controlled mineral levels help protect vital organs. It provides decent senior nutrition at a moderate price point.
What Do Other Brands Have to Offer?
While Science Diet offers predictable nutrition tailored for your dog’s needs, many competing brands currently offer similar formulas with superior ingredients:
Need a sensitive skin & stomach recipe? Consider Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach which has excellent salmon and rice content with probiotic supplements. Or try the limited ingredient Nutro Wholesome Essentials line using one novel protein and carbohydrate source.
Want grain-free senior nutrition? Check out Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient senior recipe made with turkey, potatoes and pumpkin. Also provides glucosamine/chondroitin.
Seeking a low calorie weight control kibble? Natrual Balance Fat Dogs formula has 27% less fat and 40% fewer calories using premium ingredients like chicken, salmon and sweet potatoes. Plus natural fibers for satiety.
Want a puppy recipe free of corn and wheat? Fromm Gold puppy recipe has pasture-raised duck, chicken and wholesome grains like pearled barley. Also includes probiotics, DHA and ARA for development.
While Science Diet undoubtedly makes quality pet foods, their competitors now offer similar tailored nutrition using superior ingredients more pet owners are seeking.
Science Diet Dog Food – Quick Facts
Before deciding if Science Diet is right for your dog, here are some key details and pros and cons about this brand:
Product Lines: Science Diet, Science Diet ProHealth, Science Diet Perfect Weight, Science Diet Youthful Vitality
Types of Recipes: Puppy, adult maintenance, senior/mature, breed-specific, prescription diet, weight management
Ingredient Quality: Moderate. Emphasizes meat as first ingredient but also contains by-products, corn, wheat, soy.
Price Range: $$$ out of $$. Above average for mid-tier quality.
Manufacturing Location: All recipes made in the USA.
Available at: Petco, PetSmart, Chewy, PetFlow and independent pet retailers. Veterinarian clinics.
Recalls: Major canned food recall in 2022. Otherwise infrequent, small-scale recalls.
Pros: Precise nutritional formulations, vet recommended, proven weight loss results, formulas for unique needs
Cons: Heavy grain use, questionable ingredient quality for price, mixed buyer reviews and palatability
Science Diet Dog Food Reviews: FAQ
For further questions about Science Diet and how it compares to alternatives, see these common FAQs:
Is Science Diet worth paying a premium for?
For the ingredient quality used, most experts agree Science Diet is overpriced, especially for grain-inclusive recipes. However, buyers have success with specialty formulas like prescription weight loss.
Is Science Diet healthier than Purina?
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Both brands use corn, wheat and by-products to varying degrees. However, some formulas like Science Diet Sensitive Skin and Stomach may be better for dogs with allergies. Overall, the two brands are comparable.
What’s better: Iams or Science Diet?
These two brands are very similar in terms of ingredient quality and price. Iams tends to use a bit more meat content while Science Diet emphasizes precise nutritional formulations. For cost-conscious buyers, Iams provides similar quality for less.
Does Science Diet contain fillers?
Some of their grain ingredients like corn act more as fillers than natural nutrition. However, Science Diet limits the amount used. Their formulas contain less filler than many grocery store brands.
Is Science Diet being discontinued?
There are currently no plans for Science Diet to be discontinued or acquired. However, after the major 2022 recall, some buyers are switching to other brands they now perceive as higher quality and safer.
The Bottom Line: Is Science Diet Worth It?
For dogs with common sensitivities or requiring vet-prescribed nutrition, Science Diet offers proven results. However, comparable formulas from brands like Purina Pro Plan, Hill’s Prescription Diet and Royal Canin can offer similar tailored nutrition for equal or lower cost.
Healthy dogs will receive adequate nutrition from Science Diet. But pet owners seeking premium natural ingredients can likely find better formulas containing less grain fillers for a similar price point.
Still, Science Diet recipes are formulated precisely for different life stages and offer predictable results. For owners that find a recipe their dog thrives on, the premium pricing may be worth it for the benefits.
Overall, Science Diet is a moderate quality brand that places nutritional science over ingredient quality. While not the best choice for every dog, it can provide targeted nutrition for unique needs with the backing of veterinarian recommendations.