Science Diet is one of the most popular dog food brands on the market today. With dozens of recipes across multiple product lines, Science Diet offers a wide variety of formulas to meet the nutritional needs of dogs of all ages and sizes.
But how does Science Diet really stack up? This comprehensive review will examine Science Diet’s key product lines, ingredients, recall history, and what experts and pet owners have to say about the brand. Read on for the full scoop on Science Diet dog food.
An Overview of Science Diet Dog Food
Science Diet was created in the 1960s by Dr. Mark Morris Sr., a veterinarian who developed specialized diets to help dogs with various medical conditions. Science Diet was acquired by Hill’s Pet Nutrition in the 1970s.
Today, Science Diet offers four main product lines:
- Science Diet – The standard adult maintenance formulas. Available in dry and wet recipes.
- Science Diet Nature’s Best – Premium natural recipes with added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
- Science Diet Ideal Balance – Limited ingredient recipes for dogs with food sensitivities.
- Prescription Diet – Veterinary formulas designed to help manage specific health conditions.
Science Diet uses an in-house veterinary nutritionist and quality control measures to formulate and produce their recipes. They state that they only accept ingredients from suppliers that meet their stringent quality standards.
Science Diet Dog Food Ingredient Analysis
Here is a detailed look at the key ingredients used in Science Diet’s main product lines:
- Chicken, lamb, salmon are the most common proteins. Turkey, venison, and eggs also used.
- Brewers rice, corn, wheat are primary grains. Oats, barley also included.
Fruits & Veggies
- Tomato pomace, carrots, green peas, apples, blueberries. Average 3-4 ingredients.
- Vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin A supplements. Some formulas have glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3s.
Most Science Diet recipes contain animal protein as the first ingredient, combined with plant-based grains and a moderate amount of fruits and vegetables. They utilize supplements to meet AAFCO nutritional standards.
Some veterinary specialists have concerns over the heavy use of grains like corn and wheat, which are less bioavailable to dogs than meat proteins. However, Science Diet states that their proprietary processes create highly digestible grain ingredients tailored for a dog’s digestive system.
Science Diet has had a handful of recalls over the past two decades:
- Feb 2022 – Prescription Diet dog food recalled due to potentially elevated vitamin D levels.
- March 2019 – Science Diet canned dog food recalled due to potentially elevated vitamin D levels.
- Feb 2011 – 19 products recalled due to potential salmonella contamination.
- Sept 2010 – Small number of dry cat food bags recalled due to potential salmonella contamination.
- April 2007 – Multiple wet and dry cat and dog foods recalled due to melamine contamination.
While Science Diet has had a few sizable recalls, the incidence rate is low compared to many other major dog food brands that have frequent or large-scale recalls. Overall, Science Diet appears to have relatively good quality control and food safety practices.
Science Diet Product Line Reviews
Here is a detailed analysis of Science Diet’s four main product lines:
Science Diet Dog Food
Key Features: Balanced nutrition for adult dogs. Available in dry and wet recipes.
Ingredients: Chicken, brewers rice, whole grain wheat, whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal, chicken liver flavor, flaxseed, dried beet pulp.
- Moderate protein and fat content
- Budget-friendly price point
- Veterinarian-formulated recipes
- Heavy use of grains like corn and wheat
- Artificial colors and flavors
- Mixed expert and consumer reviews
Best For: Average healthy adult dogs with minimal dietary sensitivities. The standard Science Diet line offers basic complete and balanced nutrition at an affordable price point.
Science Diet Nature’s Best Dog Food
Key Features: Premium recipes loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Natural ingredients.
Ingredients: Salmon, barley, brown rice, chicken meal, peas, natural flavors, flaxseed.
- Quality proteins like salmon
- Whole grains like barley and oats
- Added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
- No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Expensive compared to standard Science Diet
- Low meat content according to some reviews
Best For: Owners seeking a natural, nutrient-rich upgrade from standard Science Diet. Provides premium nutrition with recognizable ingredients.
Science Diet Ideal Balance Dog Food
Key Features: Limited ingredient recipes for dogs with food sensitivities. Natural, non-GMO ingredients.
Ingredients: Salmon, salmon meal, peas, ground rice, canola oil, natural flavors.
- Limited key ingredients to reduce allergens
- Grain-free options
- Ideal for dogs with sensitivities
- Moderate protein content for grain-free recipes
- Higher cost than regular Science Diet
Best For: Dogs with food allergies or sensitivities. Provides simpler recipes with fewer ingredients that are easier to digest.
Prescription Diet Dog Food
Key Features: Veterinary formulas to help manage specific health conditions.
Ingredients Vary By Recipe
- Formulated to address issues like weight control, skin sensitivity, joint health, digestion
- Veterinary recommended and approved
- Additional clinical research and trials
- Very expensive compared to OTC foods
- Only available with veterinary prescription
- Mixed reviews from pet owners
Best For: Dogs needing specialized nutrition under veterinary advice, such as kidney care or digestive support. Provides targeted nutrition when regular dog food is not medically adequate.
Science Diet Dog Food Prices
Science Diet is a premium-priced dog food brand overall. Here are the average costs across their product lines:
- Science Diet Dog Food – $1.50-$2.50 per lb.
- Science Diet Nature’s Best – $2.50-$3.50+ per lb.
- Science Diet Ideal Balance – $2.50-$3.50+ per lb.
- Prescription Diet Dog Food – $3.00-$5.00+ per lb.
The Prescription Diet line is by far the most expensive, costing upwards of $5 per pound. The regular Science Diet recipes offer the most budget-friendly pricing at around $2 per pound for dry kibble.
What Do Experts Say About Science Diet?
Science Diet dog food receives mixed reviews from industry experts:
Veterinarians – Most vets recommend and trust Science Diet since they work closely with the Hill’s brand. Many vet offices sell Science Diet products exclusively.
Dog Food Advisors – Dog food experts like Dog Food Advisor give Science Diet mixed reviews. While they acknowledge the extensive research behind the brand, some are concerned over the heavy grain content.
Pet Nutritionists – Some pet nutritionists such as Pet Dietitian question the quality and digestibility of corn, wheat, and other grains frequently used in Science Diet. They prefer grain-free or meat-first recipes.
Breeders – Experienced dog breeders seem divided on Science Diet pet food. Some will not recommend it, while others say it offers decent quality and nutrition for average healthy dogs.
Science Diet Dog Food Reviews From Pet Owners
Science Diet earns a 3.7 out of 5 star average rating on retail sites like Chewy and Amazon. Here’s what buyers have to say:
- “My dogs do really well on Science Diet. Nice shiny coats, good energy levels.”
- “These products are easily digestible with recognizable ingredients.”
- “My vet recommends Science Diet so I feel it’s a safe option.”
- “The kibble size and texture works perfectly for my senior dog.”
- “Too many filler grains, not enough meat protein.”
- “Caused digestive issues for my dog.”
- “Artificial flavors and coloring are concerning.”
- “The prescription formulas are too expensive.”
- “Made one of my dogs overweight.”
- “Good quality for the price, but not the best.”
- “My dog likes the taste but I wish they used fewer grains.”
- “It meets my dogs’ needs for daily nutrition but the ingredients could be better.”
The majority of pet owners say Science Diet provides average to above-average quality at a reasonable price point. Most dogs seem to readily eat Science Diet food. However, some dogs may experience digestive troubles, possibly due to the heavy grain content.
Is Science Diet Dog Food Recommended?
Science Diet is a moderately well-rated dog food brand among most experts and consumers. The overall consensus is that Science Diet offers decent quality nutrition for the price, but it is not the best.
The Bottom Line:
For the average healthy adult dog without special dietary needs, Science Diet is a sound option that veterinarians routinely recommend. However, dogs with food sensitivities or allergies may do better on a limited ingredient diet.
Dog owners seeking premium natural nutrition may want to upgrade to the Nature’s Best line or consider other meat-first brands without corn, wheat, and other controversial ingredients. Prescription Diet formulas can provide customized nutrition for dogs requiring specialized diets for medical issues.
Top 6 Science Diet Competitors & Alternatives
Pet owners who want to compare against Science Diet may want to explore these top competing brands:
1. Purina Pro Plan
- Similar veterinary-developed formulas
- More meat-focused recipes
- Comparable cost
2. Royal Canin
- Many specialized prescription diets
- Veterinarian recommended
- Also has grain-heavy recipes
3. Hill’s Prescription Diet
- Targeted formulas for various health needs
- Recommended by vets for medical issues
- More expensive prescription-only
- Meat-first recipes
- Fewer controversial ingredients
- Lower grain content
- Veterinarian developed formulas
- Lower cost alternative
- Similar grain-inclusive recipes
6. Blue Buffalo
- Meat-first natural recipes
- Fewer grains and by-products
- Higher price point
Science Diet Dog Food: Frequently Asked Questions
Pet owners often have questions when selecting the right dog food brand. Here are answers to some of the most common Science Diet queries:
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Q: Is Science Diet a good dog food brand?
A: Science Diet is considered a good, average quality dog food brand among most experts. It provides complete balanced nutrition formulated by veterinary scientists. However, some feel it relies too much on grains versus meat proteins.
Q: Is Science Diet grain free?
A: No, the majority of Science Diet recipes contain grains like corn, wheat, rice, and sorghum. However, their Ideal Balance line does offer limited grain-free options.
Q: Is Science Diet owned by a veterinarian?
A: Science Diet was originally created by Dr. Mark Morris Sr., a veterinarian who developed foods for kidney disease and heart disease in dogs. The brand is now owned by Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
Q: Is Science Diet dog food safe?
A: Science Diet has rigorous standards and quality control measures to ensure safety and nutrition. They have had very few recalls historically, so most veterinarians consider their formulas to be safe.
Q: Does Petco or PetSmart sell Science Diet?
A: Yes, Science Diet products are sold at virtually all major pet retail chains including Petco, PetSmart, Chewy, Pet Supplies Plus and more.
Q: Is Science Diet better than Purina?
A: There is some debate, but most experts consider Purina and Science Diet to be comparable in terms of ingredient quality and nutrition. Both offer complete balanced diets formulated by veterinary nutritionists.
The Final Word on Science Diet Dog Food
Science Diet is a trusted veterinarian-developed brand that offers a variety of recipes focused on complete balanced nutrition for dogs. While not the highest quality food available, Science Diet provides good nutritional value at a reasonable price point for the average healthy adult dog.
Dog owners should take into account their pet’s age, size, activity level, and any food sensitivities when considering Science Diet. For dogs needing specialized diet formulas for medical conditions, Science Diet’s Prescription Diet line can provide targeted nutrition under veterinary supervision.
With better-than-average safety standards and rigorous quality control, Science Diet remains a recommended staple brand by many veterinarians. While some competitors may offer preferable ingredients or nutrition, Science Diet continues to be a reasonable choice for most pet owners seeking a good mid-range dog food.