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Review: Which Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food is Right for Your Dog?

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We are often told that we are what we eat. So it makes sense that pet parents would want only the best food for their canine companions, as well. And that means plenty of pet parents are on the hunt for dog food that not only tastes good, but will also provide a high-quality, well-balanced diet that supports their dogs’ good health.

Fortunately, Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food has many options formulated to fit the specific health needs of a wide range of dogs. You can find Hill’s Science formulas for dogs from large breed to small, puppies to seniors, and even dogs with illnesses or special dietary needs. 

But which one is right for your dog? And what if your dog fits several Hill’s Science Diet categories? To help pet parents find the best food for their pup, we took a deep dive into Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food and what makes it different from other canine kibbles.

What Is Hill’s Science Diet?

Dog licking lips hungry

The Hill’s Science Diet brand of pet food has a long history of providing nutrition-based health solutions for pets. It started in the 1930s when veterinarian Dr. Mark Morris Sr. began testing a new way of treating diseases in dogs and cats — by changing what they ate.

In 1939, a young blind man brought his guide dog, Buddy, to Morris and asked for his help. Buddy was dying of kidney disease, so Morris mixed up a formula he had designed specifically to target kidney function. And within a few weeks, Buddy’s health had improved greatly. 

That success led to incredible demand for Morris’ innovative, science-based pet food. So much so that, nine years later, he contracted with the Hill Packing Company in Topeka, Kansas, to produce the very first Hill’s Science Diet commercial pet food.

In the years since then, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has become a part of the Colgate-Palmolive family of companies and a global leader in the world of premium pet food. Yet its mission remains the same: to improve the lives of pets through nutrition, so we can enjoy more time with them.

At its innovative Global Nutrition Center in Topeka, Kansas, the brand works with over 200 nutritionists, food scientists, and veterinarians on groundbreaking research in pet nutrition. The resulting formulas are designed to support health, wellness, and prevention for pets of every age, size, and health condition.

Benefits of Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food

Dog with big bowl of food

While Hills Science Diet produces a wide range of food for dogs, including canned wet food, treats, and prescription diets, we’re focusing on the brand’s extensive line of Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food options. 

Here’s why: According to the latest buying trends, kibble remains king of the dog food industry. Approximately 94 percent of US dog owners reported consistently feeding pets dry dog food, according to a Packaged Facts report, citing data from consumer insights company MRI-Simmons

And that number has risen steadily over the past decade, with Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food among the top brands showing market gains between 2013 and 2021. 

Here’s a quick overview of the biggest Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food benefits contributing to that growth:

Targeted Nutrition – Dogs have different dietary needs depending on a range of factors — including their stage of life, breed size, lifestyle, genetics, health considerations, and more. Hill’s uses science-led ingredients and research to target specific needs with precise pet nutrition.

Expert Recommended – Hill’s Pet Nutrition food isn’t just formulated by experts, including veterinarians, pet nutritionists, and food scientists, it’s trusted by them, too. It’s the #1 veterinarian-recommended pet food over any other brand.

Affordability – Specialized dog food often comes with a premium price tag. But Hill’s Science Diet combines the affordability and convenience of dry dog food with a wide range of options, so pet parents can get customized nutrition that benefits their pet without breaking the bank.  

Types of Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food 

Hill's Science Diet Dog Food Dry range

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The variety of Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food formulas is a huge selling point. But if you find yourself a little overwhelmed by all the choices, never fear. We put together a quick overview showing how Hill’s organizes different categories of nutritional needs and breaks them down. 

You can find Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food formulas specific to:   

Age/Life Stage

Breed Size

Weight Management

Health Considerations

Keep in mind that one formula can include several categories. For example, if you have a small or mini breed dog who is less active and prefers nibble-sized kibble, Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Small Paws dry dog food is formulated to meet your pup’s age, breed size, and weight management needs. 

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food Formulas to Consider

Still unsure which formula to pick for your pet? To help you understand the different options and how they work, we took a closer look at several Hill’s Science Diet categories of dry dog food and their benefits.

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Dry Dog Food Formulas 

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food - Puppy

During their first year of life, puppies grow and change by leaps and bounds. So they require a diet that fuels that growth and supports healthy development of their brain and body. Hill’s puppy formulas contain a precise blend of premium ingredients and the right nutrients to give dogs the best start in life. And you can choose from a variety of specialized formulas for puppies, including large breed puppy formulas that help control bone growth and recipes made without corn, wheat, or soy for puppies with food sensitivities.

Key Benefits

  • Formula contains DHA from fish oil for healthy brain and eye development, high-quality protein for building lean muscles, and balanced minerals for strong bones & teeth
  • Available in chicken and lamb varieties
  • Choose from specialized formulas for large breed puppies, small and mini breed puppies, and puppies who cannot tolerate corn, wheat, or soy

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Dry Dog Food Formulas

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food - adult

For dogs between the ages of one to six years old, Hill’s offers a nutrition blend designed to support the energy needs of dogs in their prime adult years. To keep adult dogs looking and feeling great, the protein-rich formula is made from highly digestible ingredients and has no by-product meal. Hill’s offers over 30 different choices of adult formula diets to meet the needs of dogs of any age, size, or health condition.

Key Benefits

  • Formula contains Omega-6 fatty acids and Vitamin E for skin and coat health, high-quality protein for lean muscles, and fiber-rich ingredients to promote healthy digestion 
  • Available in chicken, lamb, and salmon varieties
  • Choose from specialized formulas for a wide variety of needs, including large breed, small breed, weight management, perfect digestion, sensitive stomach and skin, oral health, mobility, and more

Hill’s Science Diet Senior Dry Dog Food Formulas

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food - senior

Though many senior dogs remain puppies at heart, their nutritional requirements can change — sometimes drastically — as they enter their golden years. To help ensure we can spend as much time with our older dogs as possible, Hill’s Science Diet senior formulas are designed to promote overall health, boost overall energy and vitality, as well as target specific health concerns older dogs often face. 

Note that you’ll find some slight differences in the age ranges for this category. Senior formulas are recommended for large breed dogs starting at the age of six, while small and medium-sized breeds typically start at the age of seven. And because small breeds tend to live longer, there’s even a specialized formula designed specifically for small breed dogs over the age of 11. 

Key Benefits

  • Formula contains Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil for healthy joints and mobility, Omega-6s and Vitamin E for skin and coat health, plus a special mineral blend to promote heart, kidney, and bladder health
  • Some varieties contain ActivBiome+ for improved gut health
  • Choose from specialized formulas for a wide variety of needs, including large breed, small breed, senior vitality, perfect digestion, weight management, sensitive stomach and skin, oral health, and more

Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight Dry Dog Food Formulas

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food - perfect

Dogs that are obese often face an increased risk of health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. That’s why Hill’s Science Diet invested so much research into creating its breakthrough Perfect Weight formulas designed to help dogs lose weight safely and effectively. Always ask your veterinarian for guidance if you are unsure about how to reach or maintain a healthy weight. 

In studies, 70 percent of adult dogs lost weight within 10 weeks on this formula, which can also be used to help dogs maintain a healthy weight. That makes it a great choice for adult dogs that are less active, neutered, or breed prone to weight gain, such as Golden Retrievers or Beagles.  

Key Benefits

  • Low-calorie formula is enriched with L-carnitine and coconut oil for healthy metabolism, high-quality protein for lean muscle support, and fiber-rich ingredients to help your dog feel full longer
  • Available in formulas specialized for large breed and small breed adult dogs
  • To ensure safe and effective weight loss or weight management, follow the helpful feeding guide on the bag. 

Hill’s Science Diet Light Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food - light

Some dog breeds are predisposed to be less active, while other dogs might slow down due to joint pain or an injury. In either case, pet parents need to reduce the number of daily calories such dogs consume to match their reduced energy needs. And that’s just what Hill’s Science Diet Light formulas help you do. 

Hill’s Light formulas provide all the nutrition dogs need, but in a low-calorie kibble that helps dogs maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle for their activity level. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your dog feeling hungry between meals because it’s formulated with a precise blend of high-quality protein and natural fibers to help dogs feel full longer. 

Key Benefits

  • Low-calorie formula contains L-Carnitine to help promote healthy body weight, boost mobility, and maintain heart function, while Omega-6 fatty acids and Vitamin E ensure healthy skin and a luxurious coat
  • Available in formulas specialized for large breed and small breed adult dogs
  • There’s a helpful chart that recommends how much to feed your dog for weight loss or weight management. But if you are unsure, always ask your veterinarian for guidance.

Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws vs Small Bites Formulas

We’ve heard a lot of questions from pet parents about these two categories that sound alike, but offer different benefits. So here’s an easy explanation.

Hills Science Diet Small Paws Formulas evolved from research conducted at Hill’s dedicated Small Paws center, which is part of the brand’s Global Pet Nutrition Center facility in Topeka. These formulas are specifically designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of small and mini breeds throughout every stage of their life and across many health conditions. 

The formulas promote heart, kidney, and bladder health, fuel small breeds’ energy needs, and contain a special antioxidant blend for lifelong immunity support. And all Small Paws formulas feature “nibble-sized kibble” that measures 7.5 mm x 4.5 mm — perfect for petite mouths. 

Small Paws formulas are available in options designed for small breed puppies, adults, and seniors, as well as weight management for adult dogs.  

Hill’s Science Diet Small Bites Formulas are not limited to a specific breed size. Instead, these formulas cater to dogs of all ages, shapes, and sizes who simply prefer smaller-sized kibble. Small Bites contain, appropriately, bite-sized kibble that measures around 10 mm x 6 mm, depending on the formula.

Small Bites formulas are available in options designed for puppies, adults, and seniors, as well as those targeting digestive health, mobility, weight management, and more.   

Which Hill’s Science Diet Formula is Right for Your Dog? 

Dog eating from bowl

To help you zero in on the perfect Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food recipe for your pet requires a simple process of elimination.

  1. First, start with your dog’s current age to figure out whether you need puppy, adult, or senior food.
  2. Then determine if you need a formula specialized for your dog’s breed size. Remember, breed size can impact the age at which your dog may need to switch to senior food. 
  • Small breeds are those with an ideal weight up to 25 pounds when fully grown. 
  • Large breeds are those with an ideal weight of 55 or more when fully grown
  1. Next, look for specific health considerations you’re hoping to target through your dog’s diet. 
  2. Finally, if your dog prefers a smaller size kibble, check to see if the formula you want is available in Small Bites.

According to veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM, a quick conversation with your veterinarian may be helpful here. “Pet parents should consult their trusted veterinarians to determine which Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog food is best,” she says. “Veterinarians can help decide on the best diet and give feeding tips based on the pup’s individual needs and lifestyle.”

And if you still aren’t certain which Hill’s Science Diet formula is best for your dog, take this easy quiz designed to eliminate confusion and help guide you to the right choice. 

No matter which formula fits your pet best, you can be sure that every bag of Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food contains the absolute best in science-backed nutrition for the health, wellness, and longevity of your pet.  

The author received compensation from Great Pet Care for their services in writing this article.