Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hill's Overshot The Runway

I normally refrain from this type of posts but I couldn't help myself this time; I find it too comical.

Science Diet® Adult Healthy Mobility™
All dogs, large and small, can experience from mobility issues at different stages of life. New Hill's® Science Diet® Adult Healthy Mobility™ dog food has tested nutrition to enhance active mobility and to help improve joint flexibility in just 30 days! Enriched with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids; plus Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate from natural sources - Science Diet® Adult Healthy Mobility™ dog food helps maintain ease of movement and is formulated to support bone and joint cartilage.

Hill's Pet Nutrition received a warning letter from the FDA, regarding their Science Diet® Adult Healthy Mobility™ Adult Dry Dog Food.

Why, do you ask?

The FDA deems, that based on Hill's claims made for this product, the Healthy Mobility Diet falls under category of DRUGS and it is unapproved as such.

This reaction was prompted by the following claims on the product's label and website:
  • Tested nutrition to enhance active mobility in just 30 days”
  • Improves joint flexibility in just 30 days”
  • Enhance active mobility in just 30 days
  • Improve joint flexibility in just 30 days

The FDA's warning letter goes to further specific details on how Hill's violated the FD&C Act.

Granted, this doesn't say, one way or another, whether the formula actually delivers what is being advertised or not.

Hill's Science Diet and Hill's Prescription Diets are brands featuring a range of dog food products which are supposed to be the only right food we should feed our dogs.

They convinced the majority of veterinary professionals that the Hill's way is the only way. There are theories out there on the subject; I'm not going to get into that.

Now, there are a number of people whom I love and respect that believe in Hill's nutrition. I'm sure they have their good reasons.

Clearly, Hill's feels that the end consumers needed more convincing. So they came out with this miracle mobility formula and pulled out all the stops to promote it.

Judging by the FDA's reaction it seems that they really overshot the runway this time … by a mile.

So how does one formulate such a magical formula?

Here is how. You take any old run-of-the-mill formula and add some miracle ingredients. And voila.

What are those miracle ingredients?

Omega-3 fatty acids, Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate (in optimal levels, of course)

I do believe these are great supplements and we use them as well.

Not much of a breakthrough, though, is it? 

These supplements have been used for arthritis since I can remember.  A number of dog food formulas include them; and many of them don't even make a big deal out of it. Well, of course, nobody else is using them in optimal levels, I guess.

Well, I am glad that these supplements get the scientific stamp of approval.

So what else is in this fantastic formula? 

Here is the list of ingredients from Hill's website:

Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Wheat, Chicken By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Animal Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Chicken Liver Flavor, Corn Gluten Meal, Flaxseed, Fish Oil, Dried Beet Pulp, Lactic Acid, Powdered Cellulose, Soybean Oil, Natural Flavor, Potassium Citrate, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine, Calcium Carbonate, vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, minerals (Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Iodized Salt, L-Tryptophan, L-Threonine, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid, L-Carnitine, Phosphoric acid, Beta-Carotene, Rosemary Extract.

I guess I give them credit for using WHOLE grains and not trying to pretend that animal protein is the main ingredient.

According to Hill's pdf product sheet, the formula uses high quality lean proteins and easy to digest high quality ingredients...

High quality chicken by-product meal—isn't that an oxymoron?

Average nutrient content?

22.3% protein
15.4% fat
54.3% carbohydrates

How balanced is it? 

I truly couldn't tell, because nutrient analysis on the website doesn't bother listing amino acid break down and lists only couple of the 12 essential minerals and only 1 of the 11 essential vitamins.

Well, at least they seem to believe in it because it comes with satisfaction guarantee.

If you, or your dog, aren't completely satisfied, just return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund or replacement.

Considering our past experience with some of their products, and the list of ingredients, I can guarantee Jasmine wouldn't come within 10 miles from it.

So here you have it, magical mobility formula. Is this how it is usually done?

I am quite curious how they are going to solve the problem that the FDA now views the product as a unapproved drug.


  1. It's interesting you should post about this today. Last night I was reading an article in Pets Magazine written by veterinarian Dr. Cliff Redford. In the article he made the highly dubious claim that corn is actually very good for dogs. That it digests easily and contains very healthy omega fatty acids. I was stunned and decided to investigate further. It didn't take me long to discover he is associated with Hill's and Science Diet.

    The article made me a little angry after I found that out. How is the average dog owner supposed to sort through all of this conflicting information, especially when very popular vets (he has his own radio show) make these kinds of statements? It's so hard to find all the facts when companies like these are muddying them up.

    Thanks for sharing this important information!

  2. Hi Kristine :-) From what I read and see, pretty much all available dog nutrition education and information seems to come from pet food companies. Quite handy. So from the looks of it, animal nutrition is solely pet food companies monopoly.

    I don't really have anything against corn as such (good quality unadulterated corn, that is). I do have a problem with it being the main ingredient in a carnivore diet. Followed by wheat. The formula does sound like a chicken feed more than a dog food to me.

    It seems that the situation is simple. How to take the cheapest ingredients available and put them together so the final numbers comply with nutritional requirements.

    Some time back, though, I saw a video on how to make AAFCO standard's meeting dog food out of an old boot and saw dust as main ingredients. Shame I can't find that video again.

  3. I got invited to do a paid post on this product a while back and I am so glad I declined. I'm not a fan of corn in pet food, but I am really really not a fan of corn and wheat in a pet food designed to improve mobility. Both are *highly* just makes no sense to me. Plus, I'm not going to feed *anything* where the main meat source is "chicken by-product meal". Yeah, I'll pass on that. Kol probably wouldn't even eat it!

  4. I know, right? Makes me shake my head. I guess high enough levels of the omega-3 might make up for it. But gotta watch with "high" levels as too much of a good thing isn't good either.

    Jasmine wouldn't touch it either, I think she'd rather starve.

  5. BTW, was the invite via Social Spark? Got it too and passed. Just cannot praise something I don't believe in.

  6. Jana Rade said -- ""Some time back, though, I saw a video on how to make AAFCO standard's meeting dog food out of an old boot and saw dust as main ingredients. Shame I can't find that video again.""

    Hurry, watch & share before it's gone again!!

  7. A little more about the documentary and featured Veterinarians-

    The veterinarian who cooked up "Old Boots" is Professor Marion Smart who co-authored "Not Fit For a Dog! The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food" with Drs. Michael W Fox and Elizabeth Hodgkins in 2008.
    Dr H is also featured in the Documentary and she discovered the protocol to get Diabetic cats into remission and also testified before the Senate Appropriations committee in 2007.

    (Another vet interviewed is pro-PFI, can't miss her holding her obese cat)!