Royal Canin comes with French flair, vet-recommended prescription formulas, and novel breed-specific formulas which are great for hooking you in as a consumer – Ooo, it’s the only Great Dane dog food in Australia!
I find most dog owners feed Royal Canin for two main reasons – it was recommended by their breeder, or recommended by their vet.
The reason for this is the manufacturer (I bet you didn’t know it was Mars?) pours buckets of money into marketing their products to those key people. They’re master marketers, and one of the most influential conglomerates in the world.
Marketing their products to vets and breeders is a genius technique, because when we bring home our new pup we’re going to accept the guidance of those professionals.
But is Royal Canin good for our dogs?
Let’s take a look at the different aspects of Royal Canin, and why you may choose to feed it to your dog.
Big review coming up!
- Royal Canin Veterinary vs Hill’s Prescription Diet
- BACK ON TRACK: Royal Canin review
- Where to buy?
- How do you pronounce Royal Canin?
- Guaranteed Analysis
Royal Canin Veterinary vs Hill’s Prescription Diet
I’ll get this out of the way first, as when it comes to prescription dog foods in Australia we really only have two options – Royal Canin and Hill’s Prescription Diet.
If your dog is suffering some kind of health issue like renal, urinary, gastro, or diabetes, these formulas will address the concerns of those illnesses with a specially tailored recipe.
If I’m honest, the dry foods from both brands don’t come across as overly healthy for your dog, as both are very high in grains for what I consider an animal which should have a more meat-based diet.
Out of Royal Canin and Hill’s Prescription dry food recipes I tend to favour Royal Canin, but in both cases I find the wet foods far more appropriate.
Price is also a factor, as neither of these brands are cheap. Thankfully Pet Circle and keep these brands in stock for competitive prices (Sssh, don’t tell your vet).
There’s a 3rd option in Australia for “prescription” style dog foods, and that’s LifeWise. As a smaller Aussie made & owned company I find their formulas are more appropriate for your dog, and they have a decent reputation – worth checking out?
When should I feed Royal Canin? (I’ve heard it isn’t very good!?)
A common question is “I’ve heard Royal Canin isn’t very good, but my dog has [a condition] and I don’t know what to do?”
You can probably blame pet food review websites (like this one) for that kind of confusion, so let’s see if I can put your mind at rest.
If your dog has some kind of health concern, or your vet’s recommended Royal Canin for a particular reason, then feeding such a food for a period of time may help your dog.
For example, if your dog’s had skin or gastro issues on whatever food you’ve been feeding, then Royal Canin Anallergenic may offer your dog some much needed relief.
Also, if your dog is suffering a more severe problem, Royal Canin (or Hill’s) are likely the best options in terms of kibble given other brands won’t cater for those specific dietary requirements.
You have to take a look at the ingredients and ask yourself if they’re really suitable for your dog over the long term.
Fair enough, a formula like Anallergenic may show a dramatic improvement in your dog’s condition, but you need to ask what in the previous food may have caused the issue in the first place?
Even with conditions such as diabetes and renal disease, you must ask yourself these same questions.
Wet or Dry?
This has been the longest preamble of any review, but we’ll get back on track shortly.
When it comes to Royal Canin Veterinary (and Hill’s for that matter), I find the wet foods far better in terms of ingredients and nutrition. Wet food is generally better than dry, and the process offers more digestible food for our dogs.
When it comes to dental health you’ll find dry foods more commonly recommended, but personally I consider neither wet nor dry overly good at addressing dental health or periodontal disease.
Wet food has no abrasiveness, and dry foods are also questionable – dental formulas merely contain additives to fight plaque.
Some Australian vets promote Raw Meaty Bones in this respect, and I tend to agree with them completely – the gnawing and chewing action I see as a far more natural way for your dog to retain great dental health (which also wards off other disease).
BACK ON TRACK: Royal Canin review
Let’s take a look at Royal Canin from both a marketing standpoint, and what the ingredients really say. There’s a bit of a contrast!
What the marketing says
Royal Canin use the slogan “Health Nutrition Since 1968”. That doesn’t mean their food is formulated primarily for the nutritional needs of your dog. Keep in mind it’s a product, designed for profit, and Mars makes a very lucrative profit out of this brand.
Don’t be fooled by Royal Canin breed specific formulas either. Any decent dog food should cover the nutritional needs of any dog regardless of breed and size, but it’s always worth knowing the dietary needs of your particular breed so you’re fully clued up.
If your specific breed is prone to specific conditions then there’s no reason you can’t address those with supplements, either from natural ingredients or from a pet store.
Breed specific formulas are an excellent marketing angle for Royal Canin, but make sure you read the ingredients and consider if they sound good for your dog!
On the subject of ingredients, let’s take a look…
What the labelling really says
For the sake of this Royal Canin dog food review we’ll take a look at Medium Adult as a benchmark. You’ll find most formulas are similar.
There are four main ingredients in this recipe, so don’t be duped by meat as the first ingredient – it doesn’t meant it’s the most significant ingredient.
The 2nd and 3rd ingredients are maize and… more maize. So very likely more maize than poultry protein as the 1st ingredient.
The 4th ingredient is wheat flour.
Could this be three parts maize and corn to one part “poultry protein”?
If you consider your dog a meat-eater like I do, then this seems a bit odd, does it not?
There’s a cunning labelling trick called ingredient splitting where an ingredient is split into two to make another ingredient (usually meat) look more significant. We’re easily fooled into thinking the first ingredient is the main one when it isn’t.
We can consider maize flour and maize the same thing, so a classic case of ingredient splitting.
On the subject of wheat, I find this a common cause of skin and health problems in dogs, and a possible precursor to your vet prescribing Royal Canin Anallergenic to address the issues when they arise (clever, eh?)
Not the “premium” canine diet we were expecting?
Let’s take a look at the more minor ingredients, if you’re still interested?
The 5th ingredient is animal fats (around 14% of the recipe), so anything listed after that can be considered a more minor ingredient. This is where most of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to make the food “complete and balanced” are included.
Or in other words, these small inclusions are how the recipe meets requirements (like AAFCO standards) and how all that maize and wheat flour is possible.
The protein in Royal Canin Medium Adult is a little over average at 25%, and with a fat percentage of 14 is okay, but we can guestimate around 45% carbohydrates, mostly from grains.
That isn’t great, and not what you would expect given the premium price.
What are the benefits of feeding Royal Canin to your dog?
Credit where credit’s due, larger manufacturers have better regulation and standards within their factories. Combined with better quality control we should have some assurances Royal Canin is “safe”.
I often hear from people who have visited Mars Petcare production facilities how impressed they are of cleanliness and standards.
Consumer feedback in terms of sudden gastro or vomiting is rare on Royal Canin (and I have to say seems common on some other Australian brands), but my real concern is the long term health impact on our dogs of feeding so much grain.
Unfortunately when it comes to “prescription” diets, or diets targeted at specific breeds, Hill’s and Royal Canin Veterinary are the only options. Generally Royal Canin formulas seem marginally better than Hills, and with both brands the wet foods tend to have significantly more meat compared to the grain-based dry formulas.
Royal Canin, in terms of the many Mars brands of dog food sold in Australia, is probably the most “premium” offering, so I suppose that’s a plus.
Where to buy?
Royal Canin dog and cat food is sold everywhere, but you’ll likely find it cheaper at Pet Circle or – both of these often have sales on, so keep an eye out.
How do you pronounce Royal Canin?
I hear Royal Canin pronounced incorrectly all the time. Many people use the pronunciation Can-in which is incorrect. That’s can as in tan can, and in as in in.
I’ll skip the Royal part as you already know that one.
The correct pronunciation of Canin would be with a French accent given the word is the literal translation of the English word canine. If you want to pronounce Royal Canin in French, simply mimic the audio provided by Google translated – Royal Canin in French (press the speaker button).
In English (or Australian) you know you can get away with saying it however you like, but the most correct pronunciation in English is Royal kay-nin.
It’s a shame how limited we are with prescription diets for our pets, with Hill’s (Colgate-Palmolive) and Royal Canin (Mars) being the only companies large enough to offer such a wide and cleverly devised range.
The dry foods all seem to be grain-heavy and high carbohydrates, which doesn’t conform to what we know about even basic canine nutrition, let alone specific health conditions.
Overall Royal Canin dry dog foods contain a great deal of corn and allergenic grains like wheat. If you’re worried about the health of your pet it’s worth researching more natural diets for their condition, and tailor a diet to suit.
If you wish to go with Royal Canin (perhaps at the recommendation of your vet), then opt for the wet over the dry, or at least a mixture of both.
Hopefully this very verbose Royal Canin dog food review has offered you enough information to decide whether it’s right for your dog, and hopefully not left you baffled and banging your head on a wall.
Feel free to add any comments or questions below!
The ingredients of Royal Canin Active Adult dog food (at the time of review):
Dehydrated poultry protein, maize flour, maize, wheat flour, animal fats, dehydrated pork protein, wheat, hydrolysed animal proteins, beet pulp, fish oil, soya oil, yeasts, minerals, hydrolysed yeast (source of manno-oligo-saccharides). ADDITIVES (per kg): Nutritional additives: Vitamin A: 12000 IU, Vitamin D3: 800 IU, E1 (Iron): 46 mg, E2 (Iodine): 4.6 mg, E4 (Copper): 9 mg, E5 (Manganese): 60 mg, E6 (Zinc): 181 mg, E8 (Selenium): 0.12 mg – Preservatives – Antioxidants.
The guaranteed analysis of Royal Canin Active Adult dog food (at the time of review):
|Carbohydrates *||Estimated 44.9%|
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- High standard of production and quality control
- Formulated mostly with corn and wheat