When dog owners pick a daily dining option for their pets like Royal Canin dog food, they are not just picking out an occasional dietary indulgence. Unlike people, who vary their diets daily and widely, our canine pets eat essentially the same food day in and day out. As a result, the nutritional content, cost, and trustworthiness of the manufacturer are essential to selecting the right dog food for your pet. Issues that matter for pet owners in their own diets, such as whether they are getting the right vitamins or whether the product is a healthy one, are magnified with pet food, which is consumed almost exclusively every day.
What Is Royal Canin Dog Food?
Royal Canin dog food makes its mission to constantly bring health and nutrition to your furry friend. The company states that it is impervious to the trends and swings in popularity in pet foods and pet diets, which often mirror those in the human world. For example, while their human owners may indulge in “fad diets” like opting to go gluten-free despite lacking a celiac sensitivity, pets need reliable, consistent sources of nutrition. Royal Canin dog food producers rely on scientific knowledge about canine dietary needs to create the right blend of nutritional, delicious dog foods for dogs at every size, age, and health condition.
Royal Canin dog food “engineers” work hard to create dog food options for dogs at every age and size. This means that the company’s kibble for a two-pound chihuahua is very different in size, shape, and texture from that designed for a 200-pound mastiff. These dogs, even if they are both active and healthy, will need very different nutritional contents in their food. Royal Canin dog food offers fully one dozen selectors to help pet owners pick the right type of kibble or wet food for their dog’s nutritional needs and even taste preferences.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Dry Dog Food
- Verus Life Advantage Dog Food
- Pedigree Adult Dry Dog Food
Ease of Use
The only thing that potentially makes Royal Canin dog food more difficult than your average, run-of-the-mill dog food to use is that it requires a little more insight into your dog’s health profile than a dry kibble simply purchased at the local grocery. Because Royal Canin dog food offers so many breed- and age-specific options, you will need to spend a little bit of time considering which option is best for your best friend.
The company has designed a special line of “veterinary-exclusive diets” that support health issues including urinary health, skin and food allergies, diabetes, digestive health, and even illness and surgery recovery support. With this many options, you may wish to consult your veterinarian. This is likely why so many animal hospitals and veterinary clinics carry this brand on-site.
Because of the vast array of specialty lines of dog food that Royal Canin offers, it can be difficult to delineate exactly which ingredients are included in which line of food. However, it is safe to say that Royal Canin dog food contains brewers rice, brown rice, chicken by-product meal, chicken fat, wheat gluten, corn gluten meal, corn, dried beet pulp, fish oil, vegetable oil, green tea extract, and citric acid, along with a number of other vitamins, minerals, preservatives, and natural flavorings. The company also offers a “guaranteed analysis” of how much each serving of their food contains certain nutrients relative to recommended consumption by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.
Packaging Design Quality
We found Royal Canin dog food’s packaging system to be simple and easy to use. If the product is breed-specific, that breed is featured on the package. Also, the packaging clearly states the age, health condition, size, and personal preferences the product is intended to address.
Royal Canin dog food has not had a recall in more than 11 years. The most recent recall occurred in May 2007 when the FDA issued a recall for several types of products due to potential melamine contamination. Melamine is an industrial chemical that sometimes ends up in dog food because farmers may inadvertently feed melamine-contaminated food scraps to hogs or chickens. Those animals sometimes end up in pet foods. The FDA does not currently blame melamine alone for animal deaths, but its presence is cause for concern because it interacts with other compounds found in pet food in ways that can interfere with dogs’ kidney function. Melamine itself is considered a “relatively non-toxic substance” by the FDA.
Given that the most recent recall of Royal Canin dog food was more than a decade ago, it seems the company took the issues seriously and resolved the problem. On the official website, the company notes that it not only performs testing on all of its finished products to safeguard against this type of health issue, but it also quality-checks suppliers of individual ingredients.
- Highly specific options for your pet
- Extreme dedication to quality control
- An option for every dog at every age and health condition
- Easy on- and offline ordering options
- Slightly more expensive than the “average” dog food
- May be more difficult to get locally
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Dry Dog Food
Hill’s Science Diet adult light dry dog food is designed for the adult dog that may be at risk for gaining weight or have conditions that require fewer calories, such as being neutered or generally less active. The product includes an antioxidant blend including vitamins C and D to help support your dog’s immune system, and the company says the natural ingredients and total absence of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives make the product easy for any dog to digest.
Ease of Use
Because Hill’s Science Diet is intended to be a straightforward feeding option for your furry friend, the product is easy to use. The most complicated aspect of feeding your dog this product will be determining how much the animal should receive at each feeding time. Either a veterinarian can assist with this, or Hill’s offers an online chart also featured on the packaging.
Hill’s Science Diet dry food contains many ingredients you will recognize already, including chicken meal and corn gluten meal. However, this product also offers apples, broccoli, carrots, cranberries, and green peas as well as the vitamin B and biotin supplements. Although there are no artificial preservatives in this dog food, there are still plenty of “natural” preservatives in evidence to keep your dog healthy and help the product “keep.”
Packaging Design Quality
The packaging for Hills Science Diet adult light dog food is a little confusing since it features a generic dog on the bag and, despite advertising that the product is for less-active dogs, specifies the canine in question should be between 1 and 6 years of age. However, the company noted that a “new look is coming soon.”
Despite rigorous quality-control standards about where ingredients are sourced, Hill’s experienced a recall as recently as November 2015, when the company voluntarily recalled several dog food products due to “labeling problems.” The company also faced an FDA recall in June 2014 for potential salmonella contamination, a voluntary recall in April 2007 for potential melamine contamination, and an FDA recall in March 2007 for potential melamine contamination.
- In recent years, very careful with ingredients
- Not unwilling to voluntarily recall
product if there is cause for concern
- No artificial colors or preservatives
- Multiple recalls, including in recent years
- Relatively expensive
- Confusing packaging and directions for products
Verus Life Advantage Dog Food
If feeding your dog food made from cage-free chicken is important to you, then Verus may be the best fit for your pet. Of course, other benefits that come with cage-free poultry (although they are not limited to these birds) are that they are not treated with added hormones which may make their way into the chicken meal in your dog food. Versus Life Advantage foods offer a variety of ingredients that humans who enjoy indulging in the occasional diet trend may find familiar, including the following:
- Sun-cured alfalfa
- Chelated (and non-Chinese) minerals
- Patent-pending freeze-dried live probiotics
Verus proudly states it is the only company that includes freeze-dried microorganisms that may reactivate in your dog’s gut once your pet eats them.
Ease of Use
Verus dog food is easy to use mainly because there simply are not that many options. Your biggest consideration will likely be whether your pet prefers grain-free chicken from New Zealand, a holistic blend of turkey and vegetables, or the Cold-Water Fish holistic dry-food formula. Verus does account for your dog’s age, however, and offers a puppy formula and the “Life Advantage” formula, which is intended to be a fit for dogs of all ages.
Before disclosing its ingredients, Verus notes “the best meal you can feed your pet is a properly prepared home diet.” However, if you choose to purchase pre-prepared dog food, Verus uses live probiotics that have been freeze-dried, hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken, lamb, and fish, and whole brown rice and oats. The dog food also includes “chelated minerals,” which may be absorbed more readily into your dog’s body. Specific blends may include vegetables as well.
Packaging Design Quality
Verus packaging can be overwhelming. Although the bright blue front is easy to spot, the only distinguishing factor between blends that is visually obvious is that the bags have stripes of orange, pink, green, or yellow running down the side. Be prepared for a lot of reading if you plan to browse before buying.
Verus dog food has no known recalls, either FDA-based or voluntary.
- All natural ingredients
- No recall history
- Potentially beneficial freeze-dried probiotics
- Confusing packaging
Pedigree Adult Dry Dog Food
Sale PEDIGREE Complete Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food Grilled Steak &…
- Contains one (1) 20.4 lb. bag of PEDIGREE Complete Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food, Grilled Steak & Vegetable Flavor
- This dry food recipe helps maintain a healthy lifestyle with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, in the delicious,…
- Provides whole grains and helps support healthy digestion
Pedigree is probably one of the most familiar dog foods in this review. The brand is known not just by its longevity, but also because of its charitable work through the Pedigree Foundation, which is dedicated to helping shelter dogs avoid death and become happy, healthy pets. Pedigree’s adult dry dog food offers a variety of flavors supplemented with B vitamins, zinc, and omega-6 fatty acids to keep adult dogs active and feeling their best. This blend also includes vitamin E for immune support and a fiber blend that the company says will “keep yard patrol in control.” The kibble’s design helps promote chewing while keeping teeth clean.
Ease of Use
With Pedigree, all you need to do is pick a flavor and start filling up your dog’s bowl based on their size and appetite. Of course, this lack of “process” may disconcert some pet owners since the food blends feel generic.
Pedigree’s adult dry dog food, specifically, is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO. However, the ingredients list is heavy on corn and poultry byproducts, followed by meat and bone meal. While these ingredients are certainly valid sources of glucosamine and calcium, they may be light on protein. Unlike the other products in this review, Pedigree does use artificial colors, including Blue 2, and Yellows 5 and 6.
Packaging Design Quality
Pedigree’s packaging is easy to spot because of the bright yellow background and happy-looking dogs on the front. They feature the specifics of each product blend, making it easy to decide between “healthy weight roasted chicken” and “roasted chicken for big dogs,” for example.
Pedigree’s recall history is not stellar, but it has not had a recall since September 2014. The company has three recalls on its record. The first, in June 2012, was a voluntary recall by Pedigree parent company Mars Petcare US. That involved three varieties of canned dog food contained small pieces of blue plastic during the production process. The second recall was also voluntary and took place in August 2014 after Mars Petcare US discovered small metal fragments in dry dog food bags. The recall included only 22 bags. The third recall was also voluntary. It occurred in September 2014 and, once again, involved small metal fragments in Pedigree dry dog food.
The good thing is that Pedigree has not had any FDA-mandated recalls. On the negative side, the company appears to have had a multi-year period of bad luck wherein production materials kept contaminating the dog food.
- Very affordable
- Appealing packaging
- Charitable work with shelter animals
- May not provide optimum nutrition
- Has experienced repeated issues with the manufacturing process
- Not a lot of specialized options for dogs
Royal Canin Dog Food Offers Specialized Products for All Dogs
After reviewing Royal Canin dog food both on its own and relative to other offerings for dogs, we found that this brand offers the best of all worlds. Not only does the company provide highly specialized, nutritional content designed for the specific breed, age, and health-level of your furry friend, but it also provides that nutritional value that enables every pet owner to provide their pet with optimum nutrition.
While Royal Canin may be a little harder than some dog foods to get, the extra steps of consulting with a veterinarian about the perfect fit for your animal will pay off when you provide the ideal nutritional meal to your pet every single day.