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Hill’s Dog Food Review: A Deep Dive Into Nutrition and Quality

Hill Pet Nutrition
  • 7/10
    Protein/Carb Ratio - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    Quality of Ingredients - 7.5/10
  • 6/10
    Variety - 6/10
6.8/10

Summary

Hill’s stands as a leading name in the pet food industry, often incorporating grains and corn into their widely favored formulas. Despite this, their close collaboration with veterinarians ensures that each product meets the precise nutritional needs of dogs. They include a range of prescription diets tailored for specific health conditions, albeit at a higher cost. This underscores their commitment to enhancing pets’ lives through targeted nutrition.

Last Updated: March 20, 2024 by Lisa Melillo

We analyzed over 1500 dog food formulas and reviewed more than 120 dog food brands to understand their company values, product selection, and quality of ingredients. We did this by creating an algorithm to rate each dog food based on the nutrient content and top 10 ingredients. All dog food brands were ultimately graded based on Protein/Carb Ratio, Quality of Ingredients, and Variety.

Navigating the maze of dog nutrition can feel like decoding a complex puzzle, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition is a brand that often pops up in these discussions.

As someone deeply embedded in the world of canine care, I’ve encountered numerous dog food brands, each with its own set of promises and pitfalls. Hill’s, with its scientific backing, stands out, but not always for the reasons you might expect.

The brand garners mixed reviews, and it’s important to approach it with a balanced perspective. My experiences, both professionally and personally, have shown me that while Hill’s aims to cater to the specific nutritional needs of dogs, it doesn’t always hit the mark for every pet.

In this Hill’s Dog Food review, I’ll delve into the nuances of its products, shedding light on its strengths and areas where it falls short, to help you make an informed decision for your furry companion.

About Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Hill's Pet Nutrition Logo

Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s history begins in the late 1930s with the story of a guide dog named Buddy, suffering from kidney failure. It led Dr. Mark Morris Sr. to develop a new pet food to address his health issues. This initiative marked the inception of Hill’s Prescription Diet.

The brand expanded its mission through a partnership in 1948 with Burton Hill of the Hill Packing Company, evolving into Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Over the years, it has introduced a range of therapeutic and wellness foods, with the Colgate-Palmolive Company acquiring Hill’s in 1976.

Today, Hill’s operates globally, offering nutritional products in 86 countries, underpinned by a commitment to scientific research and quality, aiming to enhance the health and well-being of pets worldwide.

Mission

Hill’s Pet Nutrition has steadfastly adhered to a mission centered around enhancing pet health through nutritionally rich and scientifically formulated diets. The company believes that the right food can profoundly impact a pet’s health. As such, it aims to offer products that support pets through every stage of their life and any health challenges they may face.

Vision

Hill’s vision extends beyond mere pet food production. It aims to lead the global pet food market in nutritional science and innovation. By continuously investing in research and development, Hill’s seeks to set new standards in pet nutrition. To do so, it offers diets that cater to the unique needs of pets with various health conditions and lifestyle requirements.

Philosophy

At the core of Hill’s philosophy is the belief that all pets should have access to the most advanced nutrition. This philosophy drives the company’s commitment to rigorous scientific research and collaboration with veterinary professionals. The company’s philosophy also emphasizes the importance of quality and safety in product manufacturing, striving to produce pet food that not only meets but exceeds industry standards.

Hill’s Dog Food Product Lines

Hill’s Pet Nutrition is a well-regarded brand in the pet food industry, renowned for its dedication to science-backed nutrition for dogs and cats. Among its offerings, Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Prescription Diet stand out as two of its most significant product lines, each tailored to meet the different needs of pets. 

Hill’s Science Diet

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Small & Mini Breeds, Sensitive Stomach & Skin, Chicken Recipe, 15 lb. Bag

Hill’s Science Diet is a line of pet food that focuses on providing scientifically formulated nutrition to meet the health needs of pets at every life stage and lifestyle. It’s designed for pets with normal health requirements and aims to support their overall well-being through balanced nutrition.

Product Range: The Science Diet line includes a wide variety of products, including dry and wet food options for dogs of all sizes, from puppies to seniors. Each product is crafted to support specific health needs, such as weight management, sensitive stomachs, and skin health. The recipes include high-quality proteins, antioxidants, and essential nutrients to ensure comprehensive nutrition.

As a vet tech, one product from this range that stood one for me is Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Small & Mini Breeds with Sensitive Stomach & Skin. Its high-quality chicken supports muscle health. Meanwhile, prebiotic fibers care for sensitive stomachs. The addition of vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids promotes a shiny coat and healthy skin. As such, it is a top choice for those tiny companions with big needs.

Key Features

  • Life Stage Formulations: Tailored nutrition for puppies, adults, and senior dogs. It acknowledges that nutritional needs change as pets age.
  • Specialized Nutrition: Options for dogs with specific dietary needs. It includes products for weight control, oral health, and energy requirements for highly active dogs.
  • Natural Ingredients: Made with real meat, vegetables, and grains, without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Hill’s Prescription Diet

Hill's Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Dog Food, Veterinary Diet, 8.5 lb. Bag

Hill’s Prescription Diet goes a step further by offering therapeutic nutrition designed to address specific health conditions in pets. These diets must be prescribed by a veterinarian, as they are formulated to manage and support the treatment of health issues such as kidney disease, digestive troubles, urinary issues, and food sensitivities.

Product Range: The Prescription Diet line features an extensive array of targeted solutions, including dry and wet foods that cater to a range of medical conditions. Each formula is the result of extensive research and is clinically tested to ensure its efficacy in managing specific health problems.

One product I find impressive from this range is Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Dog Food. Formulated to support kidney health, it reduces the strain on these vital organs, promoting longevity and improving quality of life. The chicken recipe not only appeals to picky eaters but also supplies essential nutrients to help manage kidney disease.

Key Features:

  • Veterinary Authorization Required: These diets are specially formulated for pets with specific health conditions and require a veterinarian’s prescription.
  • Clinical Nutrition: Formulated based on scientific research to provide clinical nutrition tailored to pets’ health conditions. I recommend this for conditions like metabolic and weight management, skin and food sensitivities, kidney health, and more.
  • Innovative Solutions: Continuously developed by veterinarians, nutritionists, and food scientists. They offer cutting-edge nutrition that supports the medical treatment of pets.

Hill’s Dog Food Review: Quality of Ingredients

Hill’s Pet Nutrition sets an interesting stage in the pet food arena. They boast about using real chicken, lamb, and salmon as the top ingredients in their products.

However, it’s worth noting that these often come in the form of meat meals rather than the whole meats you might find in other premium brands.

Despite this, Hill’s makes a concerted effort to steer clear of chicken by-products and any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Moreover, Hill’s doesn’t just stop at avoiding the bad. Instead, they actively enrich their foods with added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. This boosts the nutritional value of their food, making it a potent mix of goodness for our furry friends. Yet, it’s important to mention that some of their lines lean on grains and corn more heavily than I’d prefer. 

Crafted with care in the United States, Hill’s sources its ingredients from reputable regions like North America, Europe, and New Zealand. This global sourcing strategy is something I respect, as it reflects their commitment to quality and safety in every bag.

Hill’s Science Diet Small & Mini Adult 1-6 Dry Dog Food, Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Small Paws For Small Breed Dogs, Chicken Meal & Rice, 4.5 lb. Bag

Let me be honest. I have not had the opportunity to try everything from Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Even if a lot of dogs are under my supervision, the options are too many. One that I tried, however, is the Hill’s Science Diet Small & Mini Adult 1-6 Dry Dog Food, Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe. Here’s a quick overview of its main ingredients. 

  • Chicken: It’s not just about flavor. This lean protein is crucial for keeping those little muscles strong and healthy. From my experience, dogs not only love the taste, but it also gives them the amino acids and energy they need to zoom around.

  • Whole Grain Wheat: This isn’t just filler; It’s a fiber-rich ingredient that supports healthy digestion. It’s been a game-changer for many small breeds with sensitive stomachs in my practice, providing them with steady energy and essential nutrients.

  • Cracked Pearled Barley: Cracked pearled barley is a bit of an unsung hero. It’s a fantastic fiber source, contributing to that full feeling without causing a spike in blood sugar. It’s perfect for keeping your dog’s energy levels consistent throughout the day.

  • Whole Grain Corn: Some folks are wary, but in the right amounts, it’s beneficial. It supplies energy, fatty acids for a glossy coat, and digestible carbs. I’ve seen many dogs thrive on diets that include it, showcasing vibrant energy and healthy skin.

  • Brown Rice: This ingredient is a cornerstone for digestive health. It adds necessary fiber to the diet, aiding in smooth digestion, and provides a wholesome source of carbohydrates for all-day energy. It’s a gentle, nutritious ingredient that’s often well-tolerated by sensitive dogs.

Full List of Ingredients

For the Hill’s Science Diet Small & Mini Adult 1-6 Dry Dog Food, Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe, here is the list of all ingredients: 

Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Soybean Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Pork Fat, Soybean Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Flaxseed, Lactic Acid, Pork Flavor, Carrots, Spinach, Dried Grape Pomace, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Citrus Pulp, Iodized Salt, Oat Fiber, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene

  • 25%

    Protein

  • 15.5%

    Fat

  • 1.5%

    Crude Fiber

Alternatives to Hill’s Dog Food 

Honestly, Hill’s isn’t on the top of my list of the best dog food brands. Don’t get me wrong. It’s decent, but there are far better options. If you’re looking for higher-quality meals for healthier and happier pets, here are some alternatives. 

Orijen

Orijen Dog Food is a powerhouse, focusing on what they call a “Biologically Appropriate” diet. What does that mean? Essentially, your dog gets a diet loaded with fresh, whole meats. It’s as close to what their ancestors would eat in the wild. For pet parents aiming for a high-protein, grain-free menu, Orijen is your gold standard. Their dedication to quality and regional sourcing is something I deeply respect.

Acana

If Orijen’s intensity is a tad too much, Acana dials it back without compromising on quality. Their focus on “WholePrey” ratios means your dog gets a balanced diet that includes meat, organs, and even bone. Acana is about sustainability and local sourcing. It is a win for eco-conscious dog owners looking for a diet that reflects natural feeding.

Blue Buffalo

I’ve always been drawn to Blue Buffalo for its straightforward approach: real meat first, no by-products. Their Life Protection Formula is a hit in my circle for its rich blend of antioxidants and vitamins. It’s like feeding your dog a bowl full of health. The company’s commitment to natural ingredients without fluff makes it a solid choice for those who want their pets to eat as well as they do.

Hill’s Dog Food: The Good and The Bad 

When it comes to choosing the right dog food, pet owners often weigh the benefits and drawbacks to ensure their furry friends receive the best possible nutrition. Hill’s Dog Food is a prominent brand in the pet nutrition world, celebrated for its science-based approach and wide range of specialized formulas. However, like any product, it has its own set of pros and cons that can influence a pet owner’s decision.

Pros

  • Science-Backed Nutrition: This is one thing that many Hill’s Science Diet dog food reviews highlight. Hill’s leverages extensive research to develop formulas that cater to the specific needs of pets. As such, it ensures a balanced diet that supports overall health and well-being.
  • Wide Range of Formulas: They offer a diverse selection of products tailored for different life stages, breeds, and health conditions. Because of this, it’s easy to find the perfect match for your dog’s unique needs.
  • High-Quality Ingredients: Hill’s commits to using high-quality ingredients sourced from trusted suppliers. With this, the food not only meets but exceeds safety and nutritional standards.
  • Veterinary Endorsement: Many vets recommend Hill’s, especially their Prescription Diet line, for managing various health issues. It underscores the brand’s credibility and trustworthiness in pet nutrition.
  • Focus on Sustainability: Hill’s is actively working on sustainability initiatives. It aims to reduce its environmental impact through responsible sourcing, energy-efficient production, and sustainable packaging efforts.

Cons

  • Price Point: Hill’s products, particularly the Prescription Diet range, can be on the pricier side. As a result, it might not fit into everyone’s budget.
  • Meat Meal Use: Although high-quality and nutritious, some formulas use meat meal as the primary protein source rather than whole meats. They may not appeal to all pet owners.
  • Grain Content: Certain formulas contain grains and corn, which can trigger food allergies in dogs. They might not suit dogs with specific grain sensitivities or those whose owners prefer grain-free diets.
  • Availability: The Prescription Diet line requires a veterinarian’s prescription. Therefore, it adds an extra step for pet owners needing these specialized formulas.
  • Limited Novel Protein Options: While Hill’s offers a range of protein sources, their selection of novel proteins (like bison, venison, etc.) might be limited. 

FAQs About Hill’s Dog Food

What sets Hill’s dog food apart from other brands?

Hill’s dog food shines with its science-first approach. They dive deep into research to craft diets tailored for pets’ specific life stages and health issues. Their focus? High-quality, safely sourced ingredients. This meticulous attention ensures pets get precisely what they need for optimal health.

Can all breeds and sizes eat Hill’s dog food?

Absolutely. Hill’s has something for every dog, no matter their size or breed. From tiny pups to gentle giants, they offer formulas designed for specific nutritional needs. This means every dog enjoys a diet that’s just right for them.

Where does Hill’s get its ingredients?

Hill’s values quality above all. They source ingredients from trusted suppliers in North America, Europe, and New Zealand. Strict quality checks guarantee that only the best make it into your pet’s bowl, supporting their commitment to pet health.

Does Hill’s offer food for dogs with health issues?

Yes, Hill’s excels here. Their Prescription Diet line tackles health challenges like digestive issues, urinary troubles, and more. These foods are vet-approved and clinically tested, offering targeted support for pets’ specific needs.

What is Hill’s approach to sustainability?

Hill’s takes the environment seriously. They strive for sustainability by sourcing responsibly, enhancing manufacturing efficiency, and innovating in packaging. Their goal? Deliver top-notch nutrition in an eco-friendly way, balancing pet health with planet health.

Final Woof: Is Hill’s Dog Food a Good Choice? 

As someone deeply immersed in the world of pet nutrition, my journey through various dog food brands always circles back to the importance of choosing a diet that aligns with my own dogs’ health needs and lifestyle. This Hill’s Dog Food review reflects not just the facts but also my commitment to providing pets with the nutrition that supports their vitality and well-being.

Hill’s stands out in the crowded pet food market with its commitment to science-backed nutrition, quality ingredients, and a broad spectrum of products catering to various dietary needs. The brand’s emphasis on veterinary endorsement, sustainability, and tailored nutrition for specific health conditions sets it apart as a trustworthy choice for pet owners.

However, as other Hill’s Science Diet dog food reviews also mention, the considerations around price, ingredient preferences, and dietary sensitivities can hold some people back. Ultimately, whether Hill’s Dog Food is the right fit for your canine companion depends on balancing these factors against the backdrop of your pet’s unique health profile and your expectations for their diet.

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2 thoughts on “Hill’s Dog Food Review: A Deep Dive Into Nutrition and Quality”

  1. Brendan G

    Your review for this product is somewhat misleading, first hills does use by product meals in several of the products they produce including the prescription lines. Second implying that whole chicken is a better protien source then meal ignores the fact that in standard kibble that whole chicken will become a meal via cooking, and will change places in the ingredient line up as whole chicken is weighed pre cooking thus looses a large percentage of its weight. Meal in contrast does not suffer from the wet weight conundrum.

  2. Roxann Amundson

    Coincidence or not? My grand dog started using Dr hill and ended up with diabetes, I started my dog on Dr Hill and my dog ended up with diabetes? Not sure what to think! I’m curious if other individuals have had the same thing happen to there dogs?

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