Royal Canin vs. Hill’s: Battle of Pet Food Giants

Royal Canin vs. Hill’s
In this article, I will compare Royal Canin vs. Hill’s Science Diet in several categories so that you can find which brand is better for you and your beastfriend. Although there are hundreds of pet food swamping the market, these two brands remain the top contenders.

After reading this face to face comparison between Royal Canin vs. Hill’s Science Diet, you will attain a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each brand. The goal of this article is to provide you as much information you need before you make changes to your pet’s diet.

Royal Canin vs. Hill’s Science Diet: Main Differences

Protein Content
The majority of Royal Canin products offer more protein than Hill’s Science Diet. However, the latter does lead when it comes to dry cat foods.

My only gripe is that Royal Canin mostly uses chicken meal and meat by-product meals on their recipes. Chicken meal is believed to be a rendered product from a combination of chicken flesh and bone. Although chicken meals offer 4x the amount of protein than lean chicken meat, many owners are suspicious of this ingredient.

On the other hand, Hill’s Science Diet uses lean meat as much as possible for their products.

Variety
As Royal Canin and Hill’s grew, so are their food selections. Royal Canin has developed a total of 273 flavors through the years, which is more than twice compared to what Hill’s have made.

Apparently, some of these formulas have already been phased out. Nevertheless, you can still find plenty of choices that will deliver optimum nutrition tailored to your pet’s health regardless of its breed, age, or lifestyle. Bear in mind that some diets need a vet’s prescription.

Number of Recalls
Hill’s Science Diet has been recalled once, whereas Royal Canin had three different recalls.
Price Point
Although the prices of Royal Canin’s and Hill’s pet food products vary, both brands are still considered fairly expensive in general. But between the two, you can expect a little more change if you buy Hill’s Science Diet products.
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Comparing Brand Histories

When you decide to make a long-term change of your dog’s diet, it pays to look at the background of the brand. Getting a deeper look into the history of a brand can tell us many things about their manufacturing processes and what potential benefits (or risks) it provides our four-legged friends.

Hill’s Science Diet

Hill’s Science Diet logoThe history of Hill’s Corporation all started with Morris Frank and his companion, Buddy. Frank was visually impaired and needed the assistance of Buddy.

Unfortunately, his canine buddy suffered kidney failure, and so, he sought help from a vet named Dr. Mark Morris. The said vet had already researched the impact of poor diet on dogs and tailored a specific diet for Buddy.

Fortunately, Dr. Morris’ theory is right, and he had helped Buddy to live a longer life. Consequently, his recipe became in-demand since dog owners used it as a health supplement to ease and remedy certain conditions.

Dr. Morris partnered with the Hill Company to manufacture and package his foods.

Overtime, Dr. Morris’ successor turned renamed the company “Hill’s Science Diet.” The Colgate-Palmolive group currently owns the company.

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Royal Canin vs. Hill’s Dry Cat Food

Comparisson Table

Model
Weight
Special Diet
Main ingredient
Recommended For
Price

15.0 pounds
Indoor
Chicken meal
Adult
Check Price


14.0 pounds
High-Protein, Indoor, Weight Control, Pea-Free
Chicken meal
Adult
Check Price


15.5 pounds
Sensitive Digestion, Pea-Free
Chicken meat
Adult
Check Price


15.5 pounds
Indoor
Chicken meat
Adult
Check Price

Royal Canin Indoor Adult

Royal Canin Indoor AdultAnyone living with indoor cats is often greeted with a terrible mess in the morning – juicy hairballs and poop smells galore. Unless your vet recommends your kitty a special diet, the Royal Canin Indoor Adult dry cat food would be an excellent staple food. This kibble is designed exclusively for indoor adult cats that are seven years old or younger.

Since the formula only has a moderate fat content, it is best served for cats with low activity levels. Likewise, the fiber-rich formula helps control hairball formation in the gut since it encourages peristaltic movement and speeds up elimination. Many cat owners have also attested that this premium cat food is effective in reducing stool odor.

The Royal Canin Indoor Adult cat food also aims to nourish the skin and improve your cat’s fur. Since house cats are sheltered from temperature and daylight variations, it helps to feed your pet a diet enriched with essential fatty acids.

PROS:
  • Promotes digestion, preventing diarrhea and constipation
  • Reduces stool odor and quantity
  • Helps control hairball formation in the stomach
  • Features a moderate fat content to avoid unhealthy weight gain
  • Suitable for indoor adult cats age 1 – 7 years old
  • Triangular-shaped kibbles help remove tartar
CONS:
  • May not be suitable for cats with allergies or food intolerance to grains
  • Chicken meal is the main protein source, not real meat

Royal Canin Weight Care

Royal Canin Weight CareTabbies with a body condition score of 6/9 are already veering to the chubby side. By switching to the Royal Canin Weight Care dry cat food for at least two months, you can prevent your cat from becoming obese.

This tasty kibble delivers complete and balanced nutrition, and given that this recipe is delicious, your cat will love it to bits! Still, you can rest assured your cat will lose weight.

The formula features a fiber blend to help your whiskered friend full for long. Likewise, it includes L-carnitine, which promotes fat metabolism.

Moreover, this cat food has less fat per portion and a high ratio of proteins that support lean muscle mass. Each cup of this kibble only provides 255 kCal. Once your cat has reached its ideal weight using this food, you can switch to its regular diet.

PROS:
  • Offers complete and balanced nutrition, but fewer calories
  • Includes L-carnitine for its positive metabolic effects
  • Contains a fiber blend to make cats feel full longer and lessen food cravings
  • Features an adapted protein content to maintain muscle mass
  • A fantastic option for overweight cats that need to lose weight
CONS:
  • Contains grains that may trigger an allergic reaction to some cats
  • The kibble’s main source of protein is chicken meal, not real meat

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & SkinAs the name suggests, this formula focuses on improving digestive health. It likewise conditions the skin and coat of our feline companions. The Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin features an exclusive blend of omega-6 fatty acids and other nutrients to help mitigate a variety of skin problems.

This delicious recipe is likewise highly digestible to benefit adult cats with sensitive stomachs. It contains prebiotic fiber to fuel gut-friendly bacteria, strengthen gut integrity, and promote better nutrient absorption.

Compared to Royal Canin, it uses chicken meat as the key source of protein, instead of chicken meal. Although the latter is a concentrated form of protein, Hill’s suggests that finicky eaters would prefer the taste of real, whole meat.

PROS:
  • Chicken meat is the #1 ingredient
  • Does not contain chicken by-product meals
  • Features an exclusive blend of essential fatty acids for nourishing the skin and coat
  • Fiber-rich recipe improves digestive health
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • 100% free of artificial ingredients, additives, and colors
  • Proudly made in America
CONS:
  • Contains grains and gluten that some cat owners are leery of
  • Some owners complained that it causes weight gain

Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Adult

Hill’s Science Diet Indoor AdultIf you are a strong follower of Hill’s, you are probably aware that this recipe has made quite a few changes in the past. This time, the protein content boosted from 29.5% to 31%, and likewise, the fat content has been lowered to 13% from 16%. Hill’s has also kept the calorie count low at 319 kCal per cup, making it suitable for less active cats that prefer the confines of their home.

The Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Adult dry cat food features chicken meat as its main ingredient. Its formula includes fish oil to provide cats an adequate amount of essential fatty acids. Although Hill’s has always refrained from artificial ingredients, colors, and preservatives, this recipe still includes grains and gluten meals.

Nevertheless, this formula should provide well-balanced nutrition to cats that don’t have grain-related sensitivities. Many cat owners find this formula particularly effective at reducing hairball formation. The reviewers also noted how this food provided positive effects on digestion and bowel movements.

Furthermore, this chicken and rice recipe comes with a variant suitable for senior cats.

PROS:
  • Chicken meat is the #1 ingredient
  • Fish oil is added for its omega-3 fatty acids
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Promotes proper digestion and bowel movements
  • Reduces hairball formation
  • Suitable for less active cats and those prone to weight gain
  • Does not include chicken by-product meals
  • 100% free of artificial ingredients, additives, and colors
  • Proudly made in America
CONS:
  • Contains controversial ingredients, such as corn and gluten
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Royal Canin vs. Hill’s Dog Food

Comparisson Table

Model
Weight
Special Diet
Main ingredient
Recommended For
Price

28.6 pounds
Sensitive Digestion, Weight Control, Pea-Free, Veterinary Diet
Brewers rice, chicken by-product meal
Adult
Check Price


30.0 pounds
N/A
Brewers rice, chicken by-product meal
Adult
Check Price


35.0 pounds
N/A
Chicken by-product meal, brewers rice
Adult
Check Price


30.0 pounds
Sensitive Digestion
Chicken, brewers rice
Adult
Check Price


25.0 pounds
Pea-Free, Veterinary Diet
Cereals, meat and derivatives animals
Adult
Check Price


28.5 pounds
Weight Control, N/A
Chicken
Adult
Check Price

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Dry Dog FoodThe Gastrointestinal product line of Royal Canin includes five dry dog foods, each of which is designed for canines with digestive issues. As for this review, I will focus on the Low-Fat formula to represent other products in the line.

Vets often recommend the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low-Fat dry for dogs that have either been sick or have had surgery because it is easy on the stomach.

Although the formula is low in fat, it supplies just the right amount of calories to keep your pooch going. Likewise, it has a rich aroma and flavor to encourage a dog to eat.

Moreover, this formula includes prebiotics to improve the gut flora and enhance the overall health of your pet. A blend of dietary fibers also supports digestion and proper bowel movement.

PROS:
  • Has a low-fat content, which is ideal for dogs that struggle digesting fat
  • Features a mix of digestible proteins and fibers
  • Fortified with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil
  • Supplies vitamin E and ascorbic acid
CONS:
  • Uses chicken by-product meal

Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog FoodRoyal Canin has tailored this recipe for the best interest of German Shepherds that are over 15 months old. Since GSDs tend to have sensitive tummies, Royal Canin used highly digestible LIP proteins and a fiber blend to limit intestinal acidity and help maintain the gut flora.

This dog food also aims to keep the quality of the skin and coat in tiptop condition with its exclusive complex of nutrients.

Likewise, it contains EPA and DHA that promotes cardiovascular health and mobility.

Royal Canin also made sure that the shape and texture of the kibble are suitable for the long, strong muzzle and equally strong teeth of the German Shepherd.

PROS:
  • Formulated for the needs of a 15-month-old German Shepherd or older
  • Supports digestive health, skin and coat, hip and joints
  • Enriched with omega-3 fatty acids to support a healthy cardiovascular system and joints
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Made with digestible proteins and specific fibers for easy digestion
  • The kibble size and shape is designed for easy pickup and to encourage chewing
CONS:
  • Meat is not the #1 ingredient
  • Uses chicken by-product meal instead of lean meat as its source of protein
  • Not suitable for GSDs that are sensitive to grains

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Large Adult

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Large AdultWhile there isn’t a breed that is superior to the rest, there are many reasons why humans seem to love big dogs more. However, large breeds also have bigger needs than their smaller counterparts.

Our powerful, big-hearted canines tend to fall victim to digestive issues, joint pain, and cardiac problems, among others. Royal Canin intends to prevent these problems by suggesting owners to feed their dogs the Health Nutrition Formula for Large Adults.

Enriched with omega-3 fatty acids combined with glucosamine, it effectively limits inflammation of the joints. At the same time, it provides bone and joint support to delay the onset of arthritis.

However, this dog food seems to have a high amount of carbohydrates compared to its protein and fat content. Hence, it is best served for active dogs.

PROS:
  • Contains dietary fiber to promote proper digestion and bowel movement
  • Fortified with EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) for joint support, heart health, and nice-looking coat
  • Provides hip and joint support
  • Ideal for large breeds over 15 months weighing between 56 and 99 pounds
CONS:
  • Contains grains and gluten meal that some owners are wary of
  • Chicken by-product meal is the main protein source, not lean meat
  • Has a high carb to protein and fat ratio

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & SkinAs the name hints, this kibble is formulated for dogs that struggle to digest food or their skin is affected by certain ingredients from their current diet.

This formula contains prebiotic fiber to restore the gut flora, which in turn, improves digestion, nutrient absorbency, and bowel movement. Likewise, this recipe supplies vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids in generous amounts to nourish the skin and give your pooch a lovelier coat.

You can guarantee that the flavor is just as rich as the benefits this kibble provides. Made with real chicken, it delivers a rich protein source to promote strong, lean muscles.

But at 382 kcal per cup, this product has a somewhat high amount of calories. Therefore, you must feed your canine buddy the right amount to prevent weight gain.

PROS:
  • Chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Does not contain meat by-products
  • Made with fibrous fruits and vegetables to encourage proper digestion and bowel movement
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Not artificially flavored, colored, or preserved
  • Made in strictly regulated USA facilities
CONS:
  • High in calories
  • Not suitable for dogs that are intolerant of grains

Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Original Skin/Food Sensitivities

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Original Skin/Food SensitivitiesFood sensitivities can result in many skin, coat, and ear conditions.

Intolerance to certain food ingredients can also lead to stomach upset. That is why Hill’s nutritionists and veterinarians developed this formula for dogs that often suffer these issues.

This kibble is clinically proven to help avoid adverse reactions to certain ingredients. Moreover, it comes with the S+OXSHIELD seal of confidence, and thus, it meets specific nutrient standards shown to promote a urinary environment that minimizes struvite and calcium oxalate crystals.

PROS:
  • Improves digestive health and normalizes stool
  • Contains high levels of vitamin E and essential fatty acids
  • Eliminates food-related skin problems
  • Contains highly hydrolyzed animal protein and a single purified carbohydrate source
  • Rich in fiber and antioxidants
  • Does not contain pea proteins
  • Offers the same delicious taste that dogs love
  • Made in strictly regulated USA facilities
CONS:
  • Requires a vet’s prescription when buying in-store or online
  • Supplies less proteins

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Chicken Recipe

Hill's Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Chicken RecipePutting our dogs in a calorie-restricted diet is a challenge for every owner. That is why Hill’s crafted a delicious recipe that provides optimum nutrition for adult dogs that need to be mindful of their weight.

Each cup of this kibble provides 291 kCal per calories. Results are achieved within just 10 weeks of feeding your pooch this breakthrough weight management nutrition. Made with real chicken meat and fortified with amino acids, it supports muscle maintenance just as well.

PROS:
  • Chicken meat is the #1 ingredient
  • Formulated to help dogs lose excess weight
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals for brain health and immune support
  • Does not include chicken by-product meals
  • 100% free of artificial ingredients, additives, and colors
  • Made in strictly regulated USA facilities
CONS:
  • Not suitable for dogs that are intolerant of grains
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Royal Canin vs. Hill’s Science Diet: Face to Face Comparison

Nutritional Value

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) mandated pet food companies to disclose the guaranteed analysis of the nutritional content of their products.

The guaranteed analysis provides percentages of crude protein, crude fat, and crude fiber.
 Royal Canin Dog FoodRoyal Canin Cat FoodHill’s Science Diet Dog FoodHill’s Science Diet Cat Food
Protein (Dry Food)26.5%33.4%24.5%35.2%
Protein (Wet Food)29.8%45.4%25.8%38.5%
Fat (Dry Food)15.4%14.8%14.8%18.3%
Fat (Wet Food)15.7%14.1%17.1%22.0%
Fiber (Dry Food)5.3%7.2%4.3%5.8%
Fiber (Wet Food)3.3%4.4%10.5%10.7%

Our canine and feline companions need amino acids. Also known as “the building blocks of the body,” they build muscles, regenerate damaged tissues, as well as keep hair, skin, and ligaments in optimum condition. Unlike carbohydrates, amino acids sustain our pets with energy throughout the day without causing unhealthy weight gain.

The best way to satisfy this requirement is to feed your pet a high-protein diet obtained from whole meat, such as lamb and chicken. Keep in mind that the amount of protein required by our pets depends on their breed, life stage, and activity level. Felines, which are obligate carnivores, need more protein because their metabolism is different compared to omnivorous canines.

As seen in the table above, Royal Canin comes out on top for protein content.

Fat

Dog foodAccording to PetMD, fat is a macronutrient that serves as a concentrated source of energy, and it plays many intricate roles in the body. Fat is required for the proper development and performance of cells, tissues, nerves, and muscles. Additionally, fat helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K.

There are various types of fats present in pet food, and they are either obtained from meat and plant sources, such as oils, seeds, and nuts. Fats add structure to pet food, and they are partly responsible for its taste and aroma.

Although fat is essential, your pet’s diet should have a higher protein to fat ratio. Otherwise, your pet will absorb the calories rather than the nutrients, which could lead to weight gain. When it comes to the fat content, Royal Canin and Hill’s provide almost the same percentage of fat in their products.

You want to take note of the current weight and activity level of your pet, as these factors influence his fat intake. If you have an overweight cat or dog, the amount considered normal for healthy, active pets may be too much for your pet.

Fiber

Fiber is a form of indigestible carbohydrate that benefits indoor pets in many ways. Dietary fiber bulks up the stool by absorbing water.

By solidifying watery stools and speeding up elimination, it prevents diarrhea and constipation.

A fibrous diet also lowers the risk of obesity since it keeps cats and dogs feeling full for a long period.

We can see in the table above that Hill’s has almost 0.5% more fiber than Royal Canin.

Flavors and Ingredients

Royal Canin and Hill’s have developed a wide variety of pet food flavors over the years, but it seems both companies strived to offer more variants of dog food.

Category
Royal Canin
Hill’s Science Diet
Dry Dog Food129 recipes52 recipes
Wet Dog Food37 recipes30 recipes
Dog Treats5 treats15 treats
Dry Cat Food52 recipes18 recipes
Wet Cat Food45 recipes19 recipes
Treats5 treats-

Variety is the spice of life, and this holds true for pet food. Our feline and canine companions also want their taste buds tickled, and some pets are allergic to common proteins, such as chicken and beef. Given the preferences of a finicky eater, they would eat novel meats.

Both brands also offer grain-free recipes.

Although Royal Canin and Hill’s both use premium-quality ingredients, both companies added certain ingredients to their formulas that are controversial for some pet owners.
Both brands use the following controversial ingredients in many of their products:

  • Caramel
  • Corn flour
  • Pea protein
  • Pork plasma
  • Brewer’s rice
  • Wheat gluten
  • Tomato pomace
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Pork by-products
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Dried tomato pomace
  • Soybean protein isolate

The following are some of the controversial ingredients used only by Hill’s:

  • Liver
  • Iron oxide
  • Poultry fat
  • Animal liver
  • Caramel color
  • Beef by-products
  • Whole grain corn
  • Whole grain wheat
  • Pea protein concentrate

Regardless, Royal Canin and Hill’s insist that these ingredients are safe. What do you think?

Product Safety and Recalls

Recalls can still happen even for pet food giants, such as Royal Canin and Hill’s Science Diet. Generally, companies make scheduled recalls on their products that may have safety issues. The importance of a recall is to perform further tests to ensure that a certain product is safe for consumption.

In 2007, Royal Canin had two recalls for melamine contamination, and these products are:

  • KASCO Foods
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Dry Dog Food
  • Sensible Choice Dry Dog Food

Hill’s had several recalls involving their products. In 2019, Hill’s had three recalls due to the following products:

  • Prescription Diet
  • Science Diet Puppy
  • Science Diet Adult

Additionally, 62 bags of food shipped to Hawaii, California, and Nevada were suspected of Salmonella poisoning back in 2014.

Cost

Royal Canin and Hill’s Science Diet are top-of-the-line pet food brands. But if you want more change in your pocket for toys and treats, you may want to consider Hill’s Science Diet.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Royal Canin so expensive?

Royal Canin is considerably higher-priced compared to other brands, although many of its products have similar ingredient lists with its cheaper counterparts.

Royal Canin remains on the expensive side because the company is high-quality in terms of research, employing multiple nutritionists and veterinarians to create different lines of pet food.
To put it simply, you are also paying for the brand status of the food your pet is eating.

What dog food is comparable to Royal Canin?

Dog owners and “amateur experts” are always comparing Royal Canin vs. Hill’s Science Diet not only because the two have similar price points, but also because these are the only brands that vets recommend when your pet needs a specialized diet.

Why do veterinarians recommend Science Diet?

Veterinarians also promote Hill’s Science Diet because the company produces pet foods that went through extensive research and testing to ensure the safety and quality of their products.

Is Hill’s Science Diet a good brand?

Hill’s Science Diet is a well-respected brand that has continued to cement its place in veterinarian offices worldwide.
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Conclusion

Both Royal Canin and Hill’s Science Diet have well-respected histories and share similar manufacturing processes.

Overall, I am giving Royal Canin and Hill’s Science Diet high marks, particularly for their prescription diets that receive vet recognition worldwide.

However, keeping up with the costs can be a struggle for the average pet owner. So unless your pooch has been diagnosed with a specific illness that needs a prescription diet, you might want to consider other options at a lower price.

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