Hill’s Prescription Diet Dog Food Review

Available fromPet Circle  

I read on the Hills website that this food “is clinically proven to improve quality of life in dogs”. I’m not really sure what that means? Does it improve the quality of life in dogs that are currently being fed sawdust? It’s a meaningless statement.

Vets swear by this Colgate-Palmolive brand, and I believe the reason is this – they often see an improvement when a dog with renal failure is prescribed this expensive diet. What’s not considered though is a key factor – what the dog was fed previously. Most kibbles are terrible, often cereal or cereal by-product based, so switching to a food predominantly rice will obviously show an improvement. At least in the short term.

Hill's Prescription Diet Dog Food Review

When we consider a canine as essentially a carnivorous animal which requires amino acids from animal products to sustain a healthy existence, it may surprise you the main (and very prominent) ingredient in this product is brewers rice. The second ingredient is flaxseed which won’t be in a significant proportion, so what we have is a product made mostly of a cheap-as-chips grain. To support the health and well-being of your sick pet?

From a nutritional standpoint it’s an absolute fallacy, and goes to show how easily we’re fooled by corporate marketing.

What redeeming ingredients do we have in this food? Sorghum? Chicken liver flavour – what do they mean by flavour? So, we’re not talking about healthy, nutritious chicken liver? Hmm.

I hear claims of sick dogs being given 6 months to live, then survive on this food for years. That might be true, but would they have done better on a food with better ingredients? I don’t know, and I can’t answer that.

How on earth can they charge such a premium price for a food with so much rubbish in it? Even the vitamin and mineral sources are relatively standard, none of them are quality.

I realise this is a formulation for dogs with kidney problems, but it concerns me there’s no meat in the food (only pork fat). How will your dog retain strength and muscle mass? The brewers rice and other fillers will cause your dog to add weight and lose muscle, which can lead to no end of other problems in the long term. Your dog may “survive” on this food, but they’ll never “thrive” on it.

Hill's Prescription Diet Dog Food Review

Given the food is sold as a prescription formula, and given what they charge per kilo, I’m astounded they get away with selling it. Why do vets recommend it?


Brewers Rice, Flaxseed, Pork Fat, Egg Product, Dried Beet Pulp, Soy Protein Isolate, Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken Liver Flavor, Powdered Cellulose, Fish Oil, Chicken Fat, Pork Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, L-Lysine, Soybean Oil, Lipoic Acid, DL-Methionine, L-Threonine, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Choline Chloride, Iodized Salt, Taurine, L-Tryptophan, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), L-Carnitine, Magnesium Oxide, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene.

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4 Total Score
Hill's Prescription Diet Dog Food Review

Brewers rice for kidney health?

  • Brewers rice
  • Not much else.


David D'Angelo

David D'Angelo has worked as a scientist since graduating with a BSc (Hons) in 2000. In addition, David holds a CPD accredited Diploma in Pet Nutrition as well as being CPD accredited VSA (Veterinary Support Assistant). However, his experience and involvement in the pet food industry for 15+ years has given true insight into pet food, formulations, science, research, and pet food marketing. Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Pinterest

  1. Reading this makes me question why I’m being told to put my dog back on this instead of allowing me to cook him KD friendly food. I can’t afford to keep buying this in the amount I need along with the regular bloody tests and consults I’m paying for. What else is available for dogs with kidney issues please would really appreciate any help.

    • Hi Samantha. Finding a good renal diet is the hardest thing. This is what my friend has been recommended for her old boy by the nutritionist. It makes about 1kg of food and obviously amount will vary depending on your pets size.
      300g of raw kangaroo meat
      100g cooked fish (not salmon)
      100g liver or egg
      250g soaked rolled oats or brown rice or sweet potato
      70g grated vegetables. These vary but her boy likes zucchini or carrots (But he’s a golden retriever so he probably likes anything)
      add 2 tablespoons of a pet multi vitamin
      She also adds 2-4 tablespoons of an omega oil or 2 of omega and 2 of coconut

      I hope this helps branch out some diet options for you

    • Hi Samantha, no dry food is good for kidney disease. The Hills and RC wet foods are much better but obviously costlier. There are also plenty of recipes for fresh low phosphor diets on the web which are well worth feeding alongside the wet food. This should also keep costs down as fresh foods are cheaper than commercial veterinary prescription diets.

  2. We are getting a new pet quarters near us soon. Will be checking out which raw they will stock.

  3. They’ve gotten some new really expensive versions of these prescription foods on pet circle, one where your paying $123 for a 6.5kg bag of corn, wheat and rice with by product meal as the only source of meat protein.


  4. Meals for Mutts

    Australian made, decent food

  5. How very interesting!

  6. I would like to stay anonymous as I am a vet and my comments here could cause issues for me. Thank goodness people are starting to realise and publish how crap Hills food really is. I get my cat and dogs patients back onto real food even with kidney and liver disease, they eat better, and clinically do better. In fact I have had comments from other vets who have repeated a blood test and shocked to find the Urea and Creatinine levels (kidney markers) have fallen despite the patient eating meats again. You can balance home made diets with a little education, easily restricting phosphorus and sodium, using other techniques to reduce ammonia from being absorbed and still provide proteins fundamentally required for optimal health. And depending on what type of renal disease is going on, low protein diets are now no longer used in human renal diseases, just the phosphorus is more the concern. Thanks for this review and I wish more vets were trained on inspecting the ingredients closely.

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) December 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Hi Dr K., your comments are very much appreciated. I find with foods such as this they fail to address the health issues they claim to address. It’s a sorry state of affairs when people buy such a food believing it will help a sick pet whom they love, when the ingredients say otherwise.

      My own cat had renal failure and I fed him Hills k/d for years on my vet’s recommendation. I thought I was feeding the best food, despite the cost, and trusted my vet. Over time his health deteriorated, he lost muscle mass, and became lethargic. He was never the same again. I can attribute all the above to a lack of real meat and protein – the essentials, I was feeding him brewers rice and other wastage, not a suitable diet for a carnivore.

      A reduction in phosphorous aids comfort, but there’s little to no proof a reduction in protein helps renal failure. But still these companies substitute meat content with cheap ingredients, justifying it based on such common beliefs? That screams profit to me?

      It’s interesting reading your experiences, so thank you.

      • I should just add for any readers that I dont just put these patients onto a heavy beef or kangaroo meat only. There is more to balancing a diet than just adding the meats back in. Holistic vets are a lot more trained in how to feed these animals real food and recommended people seek their advice for the natural diets. They are precious little souls, take care of them xxx

        • Hills dog food, all of my dogs have been on the metabolic and mobility one.
          Ive had 6 dogs over the years and 3 have lived until 18, 2 have lived until 16 and our old darling girl who is arthritis ridden is 17 and still pottering around with us. Ive only ever fed them this dry dog food i add some mydog in it to soften it up a bit.
          The breeds have been westies and cairns.
          At the moment ive changed to the savour life brand mixed in with the hills as after reading the reviews which are all bad re hills ive got a bit cincerned, plus the savour life helps rescue dogs.

  7. “is clinically proven to improve quality of life in dogs”. I’m not really sure what that means?””. What it means is that dogs or cats fed a diet designed for patients with renal issues have reduced levels of clinical symptoms associated with the disease – thus a better quality of life. I have no affiliation with Hill’s, nor do I have a degree in nutrition, but I am a Vet and I think you miss the important point of renal diets.
    Experimentally it has been shown that of all the treatments used to date for chronic kidney disease, dietary modification has had the greatest effect on long term survival Renal diets are restricted in protein,phosphorus and sodium, and are supplemented with potassium, omega-3s, B-vitamins and fat content, and are alkalinising. In theory all of these alterations made compared to other diets are designed to reduce the severity of clinical signs associated with the disease and reduce the degree of progression, however it is unknown exactly which of these alterations are responsible for survival benefits.
    I can’t really speak as to what the ingredients are and exactly what part they play but I’m not so sure they (Hills) would intentionally be putting harmful ingredients in their product for you to feed your sick dog or cat. What they would want, I suspect, would be to help your sick cat or dog live as long as they can, so that you continue to spend money on their prescription diets.

    • So I guess what I was trying to say is that, all of those ingredients, or lack of, you turn your nose up at are potentially there for a specific reason, either to reduce phosphorous or salt or help alkalanise the diet, I dont know, Im not a nutritionist. However, I can tell you why there is no meat in there. To restrict protein. Protein metabolism results in production of ammonia which is then converted to urea nitrogen (a waste product) and excreted by the kidneys. However in patients with kidney failure their capacity to excrete this waste product is reduced and it rises in the blood resulting in severe consequences.

      • Reply
        Pet Food Reviews (Australia) March 25, 2015 at 7:28 am

        Hi Dr. Paul,

        Firstly, thanks for your feedback – I accept any feedback on this website, for and against.

        I’ll start with a key point – Brewers Rice is well known to provide next to no nutritional value, it’s a waste product, but constitutes the main bulk of this food. I can’t see how that can be justified given the plethora of superior ingredients and the cost of their product.

        The effects of protein intake is controversial for humans with CKD, even more so for dogs, and even more so for cats who’re strict carnivores. Initial tests on rats back in the 1920s paved the way for assumptions that have largely been found redundant over the years. Even with human kidney problems it is recommended protein is sourced from the likes of eggs, chicken, and fish, which are all HBV (high biological value) and provide the required amino acids. Grains do not provide the same standard of amino acids which will effectively increase waste (such as urea) through the kidneys, and brewers rice certainly doesn’t. A dog’s diet is more in-keeping with a carnivore diet, and cats even more so. They require decent proteins to maintain health and muscle mass. Removing these proteins from a diet, like we find here with Hills k/d can never be healthy over an extended period of time, can it?

        Facts are facts, and a reduced protein diet requires an increase of calories to accommodate (otherwise the body will begin absorbing proteins for energy), and phosphorous levels are key (high phosphorous leads to low calcium). Phosphorous binders and calcium supplements can support this.

        Perhaps you’re right that Hills would not intentionally put harmful ingredients in their products, but they certainly put profitable ingredients in them.

        • confused as to what I should get for my ferret- I currently make my own ‘barf’ with muscle meat,(chicken carcass mince,heart,liver and kidney and thinking this may be too high in protein .I add alittle of my own ‘duck fat’ ( simmered chicken wings,liquid retained and blended with deboned wings) ..?? being rice as main ingredient, a big NO NO in a ferrets diet.

        • Have a look at Big Dog frozen raw the cat range the Rabbit is suppose to be made especially for ferrets, contact Big Dog on their Face Book page also have a look at Natural Animal Solution Digestavite Plus 100 powder it balances raw & cooked diets contact….

        • Pet Food Reviews March 3, 2017 at 10:47 am

          Hi Nicole, ferrets are obligate carnivores just like cats so need a high meat protein/fat diet, low in carbs and fibre. You may find ZiwiPeak works really well (I’ve known other ferret owners to feed this) – https://www.petfoodreviews.com.au/dry-cat-food/ziwipeak-air-dried-cat/

          K9 Natural and Vets All Natural BARF diets could be good options, as are the occasional meaty bone – ferrets love to chew. You could continue to feed your homemade diet but without the rice, perhaps mixed with one of the commercial foods I’ve mentioned above? Small amounts of soft fruits and veggies are fine, but only in small amounts.

        • I have no knowledge of ferret requirements, but thought they were on the herbivore-carnivore spectrum somewhere close to cats? Assuming that there are certain vegetables that suit ferrets and to pass the time until a more informed response comes along, I’ll add that in order to ‘dilute’ and add variety the mostly-raw diet I feed my dog, I also make a very basic and benign vegetable stew. It’s just carrot/potato/peas/frozen spinach and perhaps a very small amount of meat from whatever was trimmed recently. Pasta can be added to bulk it up too if the critter has no wheat issues. Anyway this is cooked up with some chicken or beef stock to give it meaty appeal (your chicken wing brew would be ideal), and if you used some split peas (those dried ones used for soups work great), bringing it to the boil for a bit will break them down and thicken up the mixture so it’s easier to handle when it cools down.

          There’s also the ‘Vets all natural’ products intended to complement a raw diet and provide the missing pieces from a nutrient angle, but those seem to be specifically tailored to dogs or cats. Maybe ferret enthusiasts somewhere have come up with a similar recipe?

        • Ferret are carnivores and I never feed any carbohydrates, fruits or vegetables. Twas only for a ferret with kidney failure in which I was asking as he survived 3 mths being syringe feed by me. I ended up just blending and de-boning my regular ferret diet I feed all 4 in which I get Chicken carcass mince combine it with heart /giblets/ liver 5%,/ kidney 5%. ..the ferret in which I asked about has now crossed the rainbow bridge. Other 3 are strong and healthy eating the above I mentioned.. Oh, no kibble is fed here either.

  8. What would be a good alternative? My pooch (only early stages of kidney problems) is a large breed so I’m interested in a low phosphorus, quality protein commercial food that doesn’t come in teeny weeny bag sizes.

    • Sam contact a Holistic Vet to do a diet plan for your baby, I contacted Jacqueline Rudan a Animal Naturopath she was cheaper then the holistic vet at Patches vets…My boy has IBD & Skin Problems, I didn’t know about dog & cat foods until I rescued Patch & started to see him react to the Supermarket foods he started having sloppy poos, diarrhea, vomiting up his kibble & his skin started to itch & smell real yeasty, old vet just put him on a Hypoallergenic vet diet, the fat was higher then the protein, he ended up with Pancreatitis another health problem, later I learnt he has food sensitivities causing his IBD & skin problems, I didn’t know anything about what a dog should be eating, so I thought the vet would know about pet nutrition but apparently vets don’t learn about pet nutrition when studying to become a vet, they only learn what Hills & Royal Canine teach them at their seminars & Vet Diets are based on science, & vets believe in science.. some vets do the extra Nutrition courses but most vets don’t bother, I have found younger vets are more knowledgeable about nutrition for animals now then the older vets, I’ve have learnt so much & even taught Patches vet a few things, Patches new vet is a good, she DOES NOT push or recommended any Vet Diets cause she knows that they are over priced & CRAP, even when my cat had Renal failure, I said what about the Vet Diets for Renal failure will that help him live longer, she said NO, she has seen cats on the Hills k/d vet diet & then cats on home cooked diets or raw diets & the cats live longer on the Raw or cooked balanced diets….
      Jacqueline Rudan Patches Naturopath her diets are free on her web page but send her a email about your dog, cat or horse health problems & she will email you back. I booked a consult with her back in March it only cost me $60 & she rang me & spoke to me for 1 hour, I also had a list of questions to ask her & she gave me a diet plan for Patches health problems, & said if I have any problems with the Raw diet email or ring her ASAP….My boy is doing excellent now, beautiful firm poos every single day, no surprises… Here’s Jacqueline site just scroll down & click on the health problem, there’s also a lot of information on her site & all her products, if your dog or cat health problem isn’t there then contact her by email, I had to pick 2 proteins, 2-4 veggies & 1-2 fruits, it was soooo easy to make, I couldn’t believe it & Patch loved the raw diet….. http://www.naturalanimalsolutions.com.au/natural-diet.html

      • Reply
        Pet Food Reviews (Australia) December 17, 2015 at 6:01 pm

        I see vets as doctors (but for our pets), which is different to being a nutritionist. Doctors aren’t nutritionists any more than vets are.

        Veterinary courses cover very little on nutrition, and yes it’s influenced by corporations.

        Thankfully there’s so much more awareness these days about pet nutrition – for consumers and veterinary professionals alike.

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) February 11, 2015 at 2:57 am

      Hi Sam, unfortunately all the renal diets available to us are from the big manufacturers, and none are that good. You can find some information here. The best option is to feed wet over dry if this is possible, and ensure your pooch always has fresh water available.

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