Hill’s Ideal Balance Grain Free Isn’t Junk Food For Dogs {Try for Free}

October 29, 2013

Dog Nutrition

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I have been compensated for this article about Hill’s Ideal Balance Dog Food. All thoughts are my own. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Is Hill's Ideal Balance Fast Food For Dogs

I was recently involved in a conversation on Twitter with a dog lover who isn’t a fan of Hill’s Science Diet (I don’t blame the person) or Hill’s Ideal Balance (wait a minute…).  I don’t think a discussion about dog nutrition and pet food can be successful in 140 characters at a time, but the individual tried.

The Tweeter shared an article with the title “The insidious mind control over clueless veterinarians by Hill’s Pet “Nutrition”" where it went on to explain that the only reason veterinarians promote Hill’s Science Diet is because this brand sponsors the schools and contributes to veterinarian education.

Hill’s Science Diet…

I will admit that before becoming a pet blogger, I didn’t give Hill’s Science Diet much thought.  I did see it at the veterinarian’s office, but it was expensive so I purchased our dog food from the pet store.

Today, I’m still not an expert, but I know more about dog nutrition and pet food and I believe that Hill’s Ideal Balance Grain Free is more than just junk food for dogs.

In a perfect world…

If we all had the money and the time, we would bone up on dog nutrition and feed our dogs the best food available.  But in reality, time and money is an issue and many people out there feel that they can’t afford a raw food diet.  There are other dog owners don’t think a raw food diet is ideal for their dog.

It’s not my job to tell people what they should feed their dogs.  I recently wrote a post on Raw Dog Food Reviews about this; it’s not my place to bully people into doing what I do.  There are many things to consider when changing your dog’s diet, including nutrition, health and medication, finances, and time.  Without out all the facts, we shouldn’t be judging the choices other make about dog nutrition (although it’s tempting with some brands).

How we change minds…

I think we change minds by sharing what we learn, not by passing judgement on others; pressuring them into changing their mind.  I also think we can inspire brands to make changes by telling them what we want to see in our dogs’ food.  We do this by directing our dollars to quality brands we can afford.

Working with Hill’s Ideal Balance…

I decided to take this opportunity to share about Hill’s Ideal Balance because a few months ago a reader emailed me privately, because she wanted to feed her dogs better than the lower quality brand she was buying, but she couldn’t afford a raw food diet.  She wanted to know what she should do.  I could feel her angst through that email and empathize with her.

Could I afford raw were it not for my full time job and blogging income?

I expanded my research beyond the dog food brands that I love, because I wanted to start offering people like this reader different options.  I wanted to show them that better quality options are available.

Seek to Understand…

What the Twitter user didn’t understand was that his/her inability to see another side to the issue of poor quality kibble, our conversation couldn’t move forward.  One thing that they said was “They’ve [referring to Hill's] had 70+ years to make it better, and no one has.”  While this tweeter seems disillusioned by pet food brands, I’m excited, because we’re seeing more brands improving the food their produce, because

(1) dog owners demand it,

(2) the competition is doing it, and

(3) as we learn more about dogs (yep, that pesky human-animal bond I keep harping on), the better we want to provide for our dogs.

I’m not naive enough to believe that these brands’ first priority is to their bottom line (or their share holders), but I do believe that they are intelligent enough to know that the more educated dog owners become, the more we’re going to demand better quality food.  If they don’t want to be left behind, then they have to step it up and I think Hill’s Ideal Balance is doing this with their new grain free brand.

If you’d like to try it out with your dog, leave a comment below sharing your favorite junk food (mine is french fries).

This contest is open to US Residents only, due to laws about transporting pet food across country borders.  You must be 18 years or older to be eligible.  Winners to be chosen randomly on Sunday, November 3.  It takes 6-8 weeks for winners to receive their prize.

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29 Responses to “Hill’s Ideal Balance Grain Free Isn’t Junk Food For Dogs {Try for Free}”

  1. Jessica @ Life with Duke Says:

    I appreciate how open minded you are about all this & how you don’t pretend like finances aren’t a factor – thank you!

    My favorite junk food would have to be kettle cooked potato chips. Though that picture has left me with quite the In-N-Out craving – their milkshakes are so delicious.
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  2. Grace Says:

    I am one of those “Hills haters” but when I found out they finally jumped on the grain free line, I gained a little more respect for them. I only wish Purina was smart enough to do the same

    My junk food? Donuts!

  3. Jodi Says:

    I’m glad to see so many dog food manufacturers stepping up their game. I think you will see more and more doing it as more people demand it.
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  4. Clare Says:

    I say, whatever works for you and your dog. I use a grain free brand that keeps my dogs coats shiny, they have no allergies, their weight is good, the protein level is moderate (during warm weather I use a slightly lower protein level style) and all the other ingredients have a good overall balance. And their junk food treat is a piece of toast with grape jelly once in a while. My junk food is potato chips if I am having a sandwich, a coke if I am having pizza!

    • Kimberly Says:

      I’m going to try the grape jelly treat :)
      Kimberly recently published..Dog Supplements | Which Supplements Do You Use and Why? @PetResearchIncMy Profile
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      • Clare Says:

        I actually learned the “grape jelly on toast” idea from an “old school” veterinarian. I had a dog–black lab–that I rescued a few years back. He had tested positive for heart worm and was “doomed” until I saved him. As my doctor treated the dog, he told me to give my dog something “sweet” three times a day–a piece of toast with grape jelly on it, a cookie, a piece of pound cake.” WHY? I asked him, totally curious. “Because,” he replied, “We are in reality giving your dog a poison to kill the heartworm while hopefully trying not to kill him.” He continued, “Because the treatment is so hard on a dog’s liver we give them something with sugar in it 3x/day. The sugar helps the dog’s liver to metabolize the “treatment medicine.”—how about that? It worked and I had a great dog for many more years! He was one of the strongest Labs I ever had!

  5. Marissa A Says:

    I would have to say my favorite junk food is…. anything involving baking or candy! Yikes! I looooove baking! Luckily my hubby’s coworkers like my baking too… it can’t stay around the house that way lol

  6. Ann Staub Says:

    Great post Kimberly. It’s easy to bully each other about what we feed our pets. One thing I’ve learned since blogging is that it doesn’t really matter. I mean, yes it does but we are all in different situations and have different lifestyles.

    • Kimberly Says:

      That’s how I feel too. I’ve seen discussions online where people attacked each other in an effort to educate others about food brands. There are several brands out there that I consider poisonous to our dogs and one way to raise awareness is to give people who don’t feel that they have a viable option, an option. Personally, if our dogs were to go back to kibble, I’d choose the brand we used to feed them, which isn’t Hill’s Ideal Balance, but the price point of our old brand is out of reach for some people. This doesn’t make them bad dog parents; just less financially flexible.
      Kimberly recently published..Dog Supplements | Which Supplements Do You Use and Why? @PetResearchIncMy Profile
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  7. BoingyDog Says:

    This is great!

    It’s a tie between Greek frozen yogurt and pizza!
    BoingyDog recently published..Clarifying My Mission, Clarifying My BlogMy Profile
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  8. Margaret Szlabonyi Says:

    Wonderful post! I am glad to see more companies offering not only grain free food….but grain free treats. My dog is allergic to wheat. The prescription food I was getting from the vet only came in 20lb. bags and I have a little dog (20 lbs)…plus she hated it. Whats a furmom to do? Thankfully more pet food companies who make quality food are now offering grain free versions. Its great to have more selections available. One brand does not fit all!!
    My favorite junk food? Bacon pizza, hands down!!!
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  9. Debbie Says:

    This food stuff gives me a headache. Although our new vet, who is pretty highly rated in this area, has suggested Pro Plan. He is very knowledgeable and studies all the pieces parts that go in dog food. He also explained to me that some “by-products” are actually good ones to have. Pro Plan has various versions now that they didn’t have before so we will probably go back to that, except one of the new versions.

    Mine and Sassy’s favorite junk food has to be ICE CREAM!!!!
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  10. Connie Says:

    I am a raw food feeder and a cat owner, so I am not interested in trying this food, but having had one cat become diabetic due to food choices and two block with urinary crystals, I am keenly aware what is in the food I feed.

    You are absolutely right in that no one should bully another into feeding any particular brand of food, but there is nothing wrong with saying things like Hills really does not take into account a majority of the health issues it’s food causes. It does not seem to understand the fact that cats are obligate carnivores and lack the digestive enzymes to unlock the nutrients in plant based foods that humans cat. So they, and other companies, put soy protein and plant based proteins in their foods to boost the protein count to hit ideal levels, ignoring the fact that the cat can not digest them. There is a reason why vegan diets are so detrimental to a cat’s health.. even ones that hit every nutrient profile necessary for health.

    They also discount the damage that GMOs do to a body… (not surprising, many human food companies do as well) among a few other key issues I have with Hills..

    but I digress… spreading the word about nutrition is not bullying. However your post does not keep in line with your subject line.. You offer no proof that Hills Ideal Balance is or is not “Junk Food”.. and I for one am sorry for that. Both ideas are sound.. I like the blog post as is in regards to ‘bullying’ someone into or out of food choices, but I’d love to see a blog post where you try to explain why Hills is not “Junk Food”..
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    • Kimberly Says:

      Thank you so much for the comment, Connie. My comparison to junk food relates to my thoughts on other brands out there (which I don’t like to name) that I do consider junk food. When I see brands that have no real meat, just flavoring, or mention a meat, but don’t tell us what the source is – that’s junk food to me.

      Although I think many brands have horrible reputations, I think it’s a combination of dog owner education and what’s allowed. Having worked with a veterinarian who wasn’t interested in thinking beyond his own beliefs which were eons old, I can imagine that the pet food companies held the same mentality. And with the advent of social media, dog owners have information at their finger tips, we can connect with each other far and wide, and even connect with progressive veterinarians who are willing to teach us.

      This change is what’s leading to a changes in the food we’re seeing and I’m excited.

      Personally, I sometimes question if kibble is right for our dogs, period. But I’m not a nutritionist, I just don’t have all the facts and I want to take care that I don’t mislead anyone by assuming too much. Instead, I just want to see these pet food companies continue to improve their formulas, giving dog owners who don’t feel they have options, a better option.

      And each person that questions their motives, reminds them of their past, and questions their food is going to push them to keep innovating. IMO

      Thanks again.
      Kimberly recently published..AKC GoodDog! HelplineSM Will Be There for Our New Puppy @AKCDogLoversMy Profile
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  11. KateV Says:

    So glad my dog doesn’t have any food related issues. I do feed Science Diet, though not this variety- a prescription diet (so i would donate this to my local pet food pantry if I win).
    I think my favorite junk food is Pizza.

  12. Lindsay Says:

    My favorite junk food … chocolate chip cookies!

    This post is a really good reminder for me not to judge people on what they feed their dogs. While I hope I never do this, sometimes I judge without even realizing it. There are plenty of times where I buy dry dog food for my dog because raw food is just way more expensive. I also fed him a corn-based cheap kibble the first year I had him because that’s what worked with my budget. Heck, I buy cheap food for myself too! Kraft macaroni would be another one of my favorite junk foods.

    I’m curious to let my dog try the grain-free food from Science Diet.
    Lindsay recently published..Dog leash reflectorsMy Profile

  13. jansfunnyfarm Says:

    I’d like to try it for my 3 dogs. My favorite junk food is pizza. :)
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