Royal Canin vs Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food Comparison

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February is when my dad and his dog Clyde hit the road for a few weeks to visit friends and soak up the sun.

This year’s destination is Texas and the surrounding southwestern states.

Before my dad left, he asked me what I thought of Royal Canin. He is currently feeding Science Diet but was thinking of switching Clyde to a new food that would be easier to find when traveling.

Royal Canin vs Hill's Science Diet Dog Food Comparison

My dad also mentioned that he saw that Royal Canin offered a Golden Retriever variety, and he was considering that specific formula.

Unfortunately, Clyde suffers from food allergies, and the Golden Retriever formula contains grains, so I told him I would look into it and see what else I could find.

Royal Canin Company Overview

Royal Canin, established by a veterinarian Jean Cathary, was first invented in France in 1968.

During Dr. Cathary’s career, he came to understand the significance of the impact food has on an animal’s health.

Royal Canin dog food brand overview history quality
Royal Canin offers breed-specific dog foods, such as for German Shepherds

The original recipe invented by Dr. Cathary was named “yellow soup[1]“, which was a recipe for dogs.

Over the next several years, Royal Canin underwent several acquisitions and continued to expand into a globally recognized brand.

As Royal Canin grew, so did the selection of foods they produced.

Finally, in 2002 they were purchased by the MARS company and continue as part of that organization.

Royal Canin’s 3 Best Sellers

  1. Health Nutrition Small Adult Dry Dog Food
  2. Size Health Nutrition Mini Puppy Dry Dog Food
  3. Size Health Nutrition Medium Adult Dry Dog Food
For more Royal Canin goodness you may also want to check out Royal Canin vs Acana!

Hill’s Science Diet Company Overview

The Hill’s Corporation began in the 1930s, when Morris Frank, a blind man, requested assistance from Dr. Mark Morris[2].Hill's Corporation Science Diet brand review pros cons history warnings

At that time, Mr. Frank owned a seeing-eye dog named Buddy, who suffered from kidney failure. The cause of Buddy’s condition was due to poor nutrition.

In 1948 Dr. Morris partnered with a packing company in Kansas, Burton-Hill.

Mr. Morris and Mr. Hill joined forces and expanded the pet food company to add on a new research facility, where they later created four new foods.

What began with a recipe to assist Buddy to manage his kidney failure, grew into a globally recognized corporation that manufactures over 50 varieties of pet food recipes that focus on animals different health issues and life stages.

Hill’s Science Diet’s 3 Best Sellers:

  1. Sensitive Stomach & Skin Adult, Chicken Recipe
  2. Large Breed Adult 1-5, Chicken & Barley
  3. Small Paws for Small Breed Dogs, Chicken & Rice
Curious for more comparisons? Check out Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo!


Both pet food companies have had a couple of recalls impacting their dog food.

Royal Canin

Royal Canin had two recalls in 2007, both for melamine contamination.

The contamination issue was due to the Chinese rice protein concentrate coming from Cereal Byproducts, out of Illinois. However, since the 2007 melamine recalls, they have not had any issues.

The foods included in their 2007 recalls include[3][4]:

  • KASCO Foods
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Dry Dog Food
  • Sensible Choice Dry Dog Food (Twice)

Hill’s Science Diet

Hill’s Corporation had a few recalls involving their dog food.

One of which was the biggest recall in their history occurring in early 2019 and the other happened in 2014.

The foods included in their January, March, and May 2019 recall include[5][6]:

  • Prescription Diet
  • Science Diet Puppy
  • Science Diet Adult

The 2014 recall included 62 bags of food shipped to various vet offices in Hawaii, California, and Nevada[7]. The recall was due to suspected Salmonella poisoning.

What’s Important When Looking for a Good Dog Food?

Several outside factors affect our buying decision when it comes to dog food.

Some of those elements are due to our dog’s specific dietary requirements, whereas others are more to do with the food itself.

Below is a comprehensive list encompassing the various essential factors that make up our decision-making process:

Dog SpecificWhat to look for when choosing Royal Canin or Hill's Science Diet

  • Breed
  • Size
  • Age
  • Health – Kidney disease, heart disease, allergies, and so on
  • Weight
  • Taste preferences – Some dogs prefer specific proteins over others

Outside Factors

  • Nutritional Adequacy Statement – Every dog food you purchase should have a statement declaring the food is “Complete and Balanced.” What this means is that the food is nutritionally balanced for the life stage indicated on the label. According to the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), this is the number one thing to look for when choosing a food[8].
  • Where the food is manufactured
  • Where the ingredients are sourced
  • The ingredient label
  • The name of the food (not the brand) – The name of the food will indicate how much of the main ingredients are contained in the food[9].
  • Price
  • Ease of availability
  • Brand history

Comparison of Royal Canin vs Science Diet


   Winner: Science Diet    

This was a close one; the two foods are very similar and contain many of the same animal proteins and carbohydrate sources.

Does Science Diet or Royal Canin contain better ingredients protein carbohydrates grainsAlso, both foods are nutritionally balanced and have an abundance of added nutrients and vitamins.

However, several of Royal Canin’s formulas’ first ingredient is a carbohydrate and not a protein. Whereas, Science Diet’s primary ingredient is an animal protein, usually chicken, which is what tipped the scales in their favor.

The two primary foods I compared in this category were for the small breed adult dry food, and though they had similar protein levels, they varied in the fiber and fat categories.

Royal Canin had less fat and more fiber, making it the better choice for dogs requiring food that will aid in weight management.


   Winner: Science Diet    

Again the two brands were very close, but Science Diet averaged $2.10/lb for a medium bag of dog food, and Royal Canin averaged $2.64.

And because I feel the ingredient quality levels are comparable, it came down to the price per pound.


   Winner: Science Diet    

Where is Royal Canin Science Diet available stores online Amazon ChewyScience Diet and Royal Canin have the same availability online.

However, Science Diet is available at other stores besides pet supply retailers.

Some of the other locations it’s available are:

  • Hardware Stores
  • Farm Supply/Outdoor Stores
  • Grocery Stores


   Winner: Tie    

Both foods are equally well-received.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since the ingredients are so similar.

However, had I been forced to choose, I would have said Science Diet because of their first ingredient and higher fat content, but I was wrong.


   Winner: Royal Canin    

Dog food brand comparison Royal Canin vs Science Diet which is better for my dogBoth foods have an enormous selection of foods, and both have very specialized diets, including prescription foods.

However, Royal Canin is the only food I know of that has so many breed-specific foods.

It’s downright impressive the number of foods formulated for the different dog breeds.


   Winner: Science Diet    

Though Science Diet won in most categories, every category was very close.

The two foods are very similar in every way, but since there can only be one winner, Science Diet came out on top this time.

The few factors that pushed Science Diet to the top of the list are:

  • Availability
  • Animal protein as the first ingredient
  • Price


After comparing the two foods and understanding Clyde’s specific health needs, the best option was for Clyde to stay on Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D.

Yes, it is less convenient and relatively expensive, it is the best choice to meet Clydes health needs.



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