I or rather my dog has been testing the Hill’s® Science Diet® Ideal Balance™ Grain Free Dog Food in the Chicken and Potato Dinner flavor for the past month courtesy of BzzAgent. A 3.5 lb bag of dog food usually retails for $12-$14 but with a coupon voucher provided by BzzAgent I was able to receive a bag for free!
Prior to this BzzAgent campaign I wasn’t even aware that there was controversy surrounding the presence of grains in dog food. After doing a little bit of online research I learned that there’s a significant group of people that believe that grains, such as corn, are an unhealthy ingredient in dog foods.
Some of the reasons they give for being anti-corn:
- it is hard for dogs to digest
- it raises the blood sugar level
- dogs can be allergic to corn
- doesn’t provide an extraordinary amount of vitamins and minerals
- is a cheap filler grain with little nutritional value
I don’t feel strongly one way or the other about corn. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of corn. I’ll eat it and I like it but I don’t count it among my top 5 vegetables. Still, I can understand why people wouldn’t like their pets to eat it. Dogs are sensitive to many foods we eat without giving a second thought such as onions, chocolate and grapes, so it’s not hard to imagine that they’d have a difficult time digesting something as commonplace as corn.
Hill’s® Science Diet® Ideal Balance™ Grain Free Dog Food promises to be a healthy option for dogs. It doesn’t contain any corn, artificial colors or preservatives. Instead, it’s full of nutritious and wholesome ingredients such as chicken, fruits and vegetables. In fact, chicken is the main ingredient!
The dog food itself is a golden brown color in the typical round kibble shape. Of course since this is a dry dog food the texture is firm and hard. I jokingly refer to my dog Oscar as having selective marshmallow teeth. His teeth are perfectly healthy and he can devour a rawhide bone in less than hour but when it comes to his dog food he prefers things to be soft and tender. So rather than feeding him the Hill’s® Science Diet® Ideal Balance™ Grain Free Dog Food as is, I have to moisten it with some water so he’s able to eat it.
Sudden changes in dog food brands can sometimes cause stomach problems so I gradually weaned Oscar off of his old dog food and onto the Hill’s Science dog food by mixing the two brands at first and then slowly decreasing the old dog food amount (and increasing the new dog food amount) until he was only eating the Hill’s Science.
He really enjoyed eating the Hill’s Science for the first week but as with all dog foods he eventually got bored with it and became a picky eater. I know I’d get bored too if I had to eat the same thing day in and day out, so what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks is mixing the moistened Hill’s Science dog food with some fresh cooked chicken or fresh cooked veggies. It keeps meals interesting for him.
I usually buy a whole chicken and cut it up myself since it’s far cheaper than buying chicken breasts, legs, wings, and thighs separately. I save the chicken bones and carcass for soup stock to use in future meals for me, and any meat left on the bones I save for Oscar. I do the same with beef and pork soup bones. To flavor the stock I sometimes throw in carrots and celery, and instead of throwing the veggies out when the stock’s done I chop them up into bite-size pieces to add to Oscar’s meals. The Hill’s Science covers the basic nutritional requirements and the cooked meat and veg add a fresh element.
If you check out the Hill’s Science website, it has a very helpful tool that compares the nutritional value of Hill’s Science Ideal Balance against competitor brands. And right now Hill’s Science is offering a rebate on their Ideal Balance dog and cat food (up to a $12.99 value) so you can try them out for free too.
Overall, Oscar has been a very happy dog. He hasn’t experienced any digestive problems and the meals leave him feeling satisfied. With some dog foods I noticed that he got hungry very quickly afterward, so as a pet owner I’ve been very satisfied with the performance of the Hill’s Science dog food, too.