Hill’s Prescription Diet R/D Canine (Dry)


Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Hill’s Prescription Diet R/D Canine dog food is not rated due to its intentional therapeutic design.

The Hill’s Prescription R/D Canine product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe designed to help in the treatment of overweight pets.

Hill's Prescription Diet R/D Canine Weight Reduction

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 35% | Fat = 8% | Carbs = 49%

Ingredients: Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, powdered cellulose, soybean meal, soybean mill run, chicken liver flavor, dried beet pulp, pork liver flavor, soybean oil, lactic acid, caramel color, pork fat, dl-methionine, l-lysine, potassium chloride, choline chloride, iodized salt, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), niacin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, biotin, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), calcium carbonate, minerals (manganese sulfate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), taurine, l-carnitine, mixed tocopherols for freshness, natural flavors , beta-carotene

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 12.7%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis35%8%NA
Dry Matter Basis35%8%49%
Calorie Weighted Basis33%19%48%

The first ingredient in this dog food is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The second ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Although corn gluten meal contains 60% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The third ingredient is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the prime cuts have been removed.

In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except feathers.

On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

In any case, although this item contains all the amino acids a dog needs, we consider chicken by-products an inexpensive, lower quality ingredient.

The fourth ingredient is powdered cellulose, a non-digestible plant fiber usually made from the by-products of vegetable processing. Except for the usual benefits of fiber, powdered cellulose provides no nutritional value to a dog.

The fifth ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is soybean mill run. Mill run is a by-product, mostly the hulls of soybeans remaining after processing the beans into meal. This is nothing more than a cheap, low-quality filler more commonly found in cattle feeds.

After the chicken liver flavor, we find beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With XXX notable exceptions

First, soybean oil is red flagged here only due to its rumored (yet unlikely) link to canine food allergies.

However, since soybean oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids and contains no omega-3’s, it’s considered less nutritious than flaxseed oil or a named animal fat.

Next, caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.

However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.1

In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.

That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

And lastly, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.

Hill’s Prescription Diet R/D Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Although this is a prescription product, our review has nothing to do with the accuracy of claims made by the manufacturer as to the product’s ability to treat or cure a specific health condition.

So, to find out whether or not this dog food is appropriate for your particular pet, it’s important to consult your veterinarian.

With that understanding…

Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Prescription Diet R/D Canine appears to be a below-average dry dog food.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still prefer to estimate the product’s meat content before concluding our report.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 35%, a fat level of 8% and estimated carbohydrates of about 49%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 24%.

Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten and soybean meals, this looks like the profile of a dry product containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Hill’s Prescription Diet R/D Canine is a plant-based dry product using a moderate amount of chicken by-product meal as its main source of animal protein.

Hill’s Prescription Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

06/03/2015 Last Update

  • Aaron McCoy-Silvia McCoy

    Yes, unfortunately that’s not the case. Wish it was something that easy. Trifexis started his partial focal seizures as a puppy. The meds lower his brain activity-which makes him less active, and decreases his metabolism dramatically. We are trying to switch meds now. And to compound things we are going through a derm consult as he’s itching so bad. So now we are stuck with KANGAROO protein based food for 6 weeks. (I’m banging my head against wall here)
    Thanks for listening!

  • losulthelier

    You the guy pretented to read a book, got busted and cried like a babyy, oooh I got set up, oooh Im bein attacked, suprised youd show your face round here again

  • Shawna

    People who diet by cutting back the nutrients in their food are often quite miserable while dieting and very often gain all, plus more, weight back when they start eating normal again. A new way of thinking is coming about regarding dieting in human nutrition. It is not about the calories but rather how your body uses the calories. As an example, coconut oil is pure fat. Fat has more calories per gram than carbs or protein but coconut oil helps with weight loss. There’s even a movement (headed by many medical doctors) to eat more fat and fewer carbs.

    In dogs current research is leaning toward higher protein instead of higher fat. Here’s a couple papers on the Journal of Nutrition.
    “High-Protein Low-Carbohydrate Diets Enhance Weight Loss in Dog” http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/8/2087S.full
    “Weight Loss in Obese Dogs: Evaluation of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet” http://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/6/1685S.full

    Weight loss, of course, can be achieved by lowering intake and increasing fiber but it doesn’t have to be that way. Your pup is obviously miserable if he’s about ready to eat the cat. LOL Feed a diet as high in protein as you can find. The above diets in the research were 52% and 47.5%. That would be hard to achieve with kibble only but you can increase the protein by adding high protein canned foods, leftover meat, sardines packed in water, eggs etc. I foster and have helped many a foster dog lose weight with high protein, moderate fat and low carb diets. I do feed mostly raw so it’s a bit easier to achieve these higher protein amounts though. I had a Papillon come in (ended up adopting her) that was over double her ideal weight. She’s now at, and has been for about 3 years, at her perfect weight. You don’t have to starve em, just feed them like they are carnivores… :)

  • losul

    Hi AM-SM. Has your dog been tested for thyroid?

    Mary Strauss says that as many as 77% of dogs with seizures may be hypothyroid.



    I also highly recommend reading her articles on weight loss, and everything else. She’ a truly extraordinary lady, luv her, and has an entire wealth of researched info on her Dog Aware site. Good luck!

  • Aaron McCoy-Silvia McCoy

    People eat iceberg lettuce when they diet…is it that much different? Not much nutritional value there and not like it’s forever. My dog is down to 1 3/4 cup a day of food total. And he’s a shepherd. But he’s on a medication that lowers his metabolism drastically. So since you all have determined this is the worst food ever, can you recommend a low calorie food that we can use temporarily instead so we aren’t literally starving him? Because he’s looking at the cat like she’s a walking chicken drum.

    Please don’t ask us to stop his meds, it’s for seizures and we can’t – he’s on a regimen of meds, acupuncture and herbals. Also, we have supplemented with veggies, etc as much as possible but he’s HUNGRY!
    90 pounds and should be 75….

  • Brenda Duyser

    I feed my dogs RD mixed with another dry dog food. It says on the package that you should not feed it to a dog longer than 4 months. I have asked my vet about this several times and they just comment on the their weight being under control. If the vet wasn’t getting some sort of incentive from “prescribing” RD I think they would take the time to find the answer to my question. One of my dogs died unexpectedly 2 weeks ago. I have a million questions in my head as to why. But seriously, the major question is wether or not to find a new vet.

  • scott peterson

    Enough of the rant…. How the dogs weight???

  • Pattyvaughn

    With a little research to make sure you know what needs to go into dog food, you could definitely do better.

  • crazyottojr

    Thanks for the update. I have often wondered what the motivation is behind the overwhelming support Vet’s give Hill’s. in most cases Hill’s ingredients resemble those of most lower grade brands. My last Vet swore by Purina OM. I checked out the ingredients and I was shocked by the fact at $75 a bag it contained mostly cheap filler.I think i could make a better weight loss food in my own kitchen using vegetables a little chicken and bone marrow soup.

  • Pattyvaughn

    They buy at wholesale prices and sell at retail prices. Any food that they basically have a captive market for is going to make them money. They don’t need kickbacks. Marketing is very seductive, even to vets. Hill’s has a way of making their food sound like the best choice, after all they have all that science to back them up. A study title is worth a hundred quality ingredients, or something like that.

  • crazyottojr

    I worked for a Vet in high School; and he was interested in one thing, making money. Hills like prescription drug companies, I am sure kicks back profits to Vets.

  • maggiesmom

    The reason vets recommend this food, is that they either get the food free, or they get a kick-back. Haven’t you ever noticed that most vet’s offices stock nothing but Hills? My toy poodle was on RD for 5 or 6 months this year. She also developed heart, lung and lymph node problems. We had to put her down last Wednesday. Not blaming it on the dog food, but had I known that Hills was CRAP, I never would have fed it to her.

  • Pattyvaughn

    If your vet is selling you this for weight loss, instead of having you cut back on the amount you feed of a good food, then your confidence in his nutritional education is misplaced. Nobody needs to settle for inferior ingredients to lose weight. When calories in are less than calories out the weight will come off.

  • InkedMarie

    I’m assuming this is directed at me so I will respond. You chose to post here. So do I. If I break any DFA rules, I will get an email from Dr Mike. He knows how to find me.

    You chose to post here just as I do. If you only want to read positive responses that you like, you may want to start up your own forum. I’m free to comment about this dog food, that you like and feed, just as you are. I’m free to say it’s a poor food. I’m also free to say that feeding this and part raw makes no sense at all.

    You say you’re here to talk to fellow feeders of RD. I doubt there are many here. I see you talking to Shawna. Maybe she fed this in the past but she does not now. Oh, I just read the second to the last sentence above. You’re not reading this, coast isn’t clear yet.

  • Carolyn M

    To people who love to argue about what other people “should” or “should not” feed their dog. It’s mindless. If my dog is 11 years old and runs around like a puppy and has a clean bill of health and you’re not paying my dog food bill or vet. bill then it’s really not productive to insert yourself into a conversation where you are being negative and some actually border “bullying.” I”m married, 53 years old and well studied in Nutrition. WE make decisions WITH our vet. Some of you will always say what vets. get in their education and what they don’t get no matter who you are responding to. You don’t know “my” vets. and their education. You have no idea if my vet. took more schooling to learn about nutrition. You just assume something about ALL vets. just because your experience may be bad. I will not be responding to negative responses to my note. This is my opinion and I’m not going around on other discussions telling people what they should/should not be feeding their dog. I appreciate the same. I really am here to be talking to fellow feeders of the RD and see how THEIR experiences are and how long they’ve been feeding it. Maybe the reason that the forum came down here is because people get to arguing with one another. I’ll come back when the coast is clear. This is the very reason that I am very careful about where I indulge myself in lay people’s >opinion<

  • InkedMarie

    I’ll be honest. Unless your dog has a serious medical issue that makes tis food absolutely necessary, don’t feed it. You may not realize how little nutrition education vets get while in medical school. You own the dog, you decide what to feed him. It’s not likely your vet will approve raw food. Feeding part raw & part kibble is fine but the kibble has to be a high quality.

  • Carolyn M

    I will definitely be chatting with you because we’re starting with commercial raw and then get Dr. Becker’s recipe book. Thanks so much for reaching out to help! :)

  • Carolyn M

    I’m waiting for our next appt. with my vet. to see if he wants to change anything. She has been weighed at 50 lbs. now for about a year. I’ll probably go 1/2 raw if he approves it. I think that way I’m able to get things balanced more on my own. I will start out with the made for you raw foods in the chillers in the pet store. Then once I see how she handles it and have her checked again then I will think about creating my own raw food. I want to go at this methodically.

  • InkedMarie

    Are you looking to switch from the Hills RD that you said you’re a fan of, or aren’t you feeding that now?