Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D Canine (Canned)


Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

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

The Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D Canine product line includes one canned dog food, a recipe designed to help in the treatment of food sensitivities.

Hill's Prescription Diet Z/D Canine Ultra

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 21% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 57%

Ingredients: Water, hydrolyzed chicken liver, corn starch, powdered cellulose, soybean oil, dicalcium phosphate, potassium citrate, calcium carbonate, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, ascorbic acid (source of vitamin C), niacin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K)), dl-methionine, choline chloride, iodized salt, minerals (zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), taurine, magnesium oxide, l-threonine, l-tryptophan, beta-carotene

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.2%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis21%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis21%14%57%
Calorie Weighted Basis18%31%51%
Protein = 18% | Fat = 31% | Carbs = 51%

The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.

The second ingredient is hydrolyzed chicken liver, an organ meat that’s been chemically broken-down into its component amino acids. Hydrolyzed proteins are considered hypoallergenic.

The third ingredient is corn starch, a starchy powder extracted from the endosperm found at the heart of a kernel of corn. Corn starch is most likely used here to thicken the broth into a gravy.

Corn starch isn’t a true red flag item. Yet we’ve highlighted here for those wishing to avoid corn-based ingredients.

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 oil which 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.

The sixth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.

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 two notable exceptions

First, 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.

And lastly, this recipe contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D Canned 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, you must consult your veterinarian.

With that understanding…

Judging by its ingredients alone, Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D Canine Ultra looks like an average wet product.

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 21%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 57%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 69%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D Canine Ultra is a plant-based canned dog food using a limited amount of hydrolyzed chicken liver as its main source of animal protein.

Hill’s Prescription Diet 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

05/19/2015 Last Update

  • Soogiebosco

    My dog loves hills z/d canned now I’m terrified it will make her I’ll or kill her.are urbanized animals in this dog food ? 🙁
    Sincerely Denise

  • sandy

    One of my dogs seems to have seasonal allergies. He has really itchy paws right now. But during the winter and spring before all the grass and crepe myrtles came back, he was not scratchy. I give him Benadryl right now. And unfortunately he’s going to have to be itchy until the grass dies out again. I thought it could possibly be food related but he’s eaten everything under the sun- red meats, white meats, fish, rabbit.

  • Hi Tracey… Our ratings have nothing whatsoever to do with expected results (especially when it comes to prescription-type products). Because Z/D uses hydrolyzed chicken liver as its primary protein, this food is said to be very effective for treating true food-based allergies.

    Unfortunately, since I’m not a veterinarian and due to the biological uniqueness of each pet, it would be inappropriate for me to provide specific health advice or product recommendations. Please see our FAQ page and our reviews for more information. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers.

  • Darlene

    Hi Tracey,

    I have a very allergic Bichon cross. He has been blood tested for 32 things he is allergic to. Most of his allergens are not food related, though. Your dog could possibly be reacting to something else, because (as I understand it) many dogs with food allergies commonly have other allergies. This may be especially true if this new bout of licking/scratching just cropped up this spring, because many allergies can be inhalled (plant pollen and the like).

    I wouldn’t necessarily give up on switching food. I am currently switching my Bichon cross to Orijen 6 fish from Hills ZD, but am doing it very gradually and monitoring changes (like flared up ears which he usually doesn’t get and so on). He is more itchy right now because of his inhalled allergies, but I am looking for flaring up shortly after eating, new locations of itching (ears, bum) and the like.

    My 2 cents…good luck!


  • Tracey

    I have two papillions, one has what the vet describes as severe food allergies and she had me but ZD. The food is so expensive however it did clear up her bald spots (from scratching). I tried the Natural Balance (limited ingredients) as it appears to be a much higher quality than the ZD but within several months my dog started to show the allergy signs again. I sure wish I could use Natural Balance as it is less expensive and sure appears to have better ingredients. Any suggestions?

  • Jonathan

    Andy, have you tried Natural Balance LID canned food? Or Wellness Core Ocean? Don’t you think it’s crazy that a canned dog food contains 59% carbs? Why is that necessary to stop diarrhea? It’s not.

  • Andy

    Hill’s ZD cured my dogs Dierea when other prescription dog foods did not work.
    This is all he gets and it works, 100% reccomend this product.
    Expensive but worth it.

  • faith peay

    I have been buying this for my shitzu for 5 years, it has helped a little with food allergies, but the dog has thin, lack-lustre hair, bad skin, bad eyes, and constant ear infections. I can’t see how the food is doing any good.

  • Jonathan

    Kimberly, did you read the review of this food? “Don’t buy it” should be what you take away from this.

    You can’t get it wholesale because it is a so-call prescription food. But, your dog really doesn’t need a prescription to find a low allergen food.

    Natural Balance makes Limited Ingredient Diets in cans and kibbles. You could try several different unique high quality proteins such as venison, duck, bison, and fish. The other ingredient in their wet and kibble is potatoes and/or sweet potatoes. That’s it.

    Talk to your vet about this idea… but take what he tells you with a grain of salt…

    Remember, he’s selling the stuff!

  • kimberly burkett

    This food is so expensive, where can I buy it wholesale.

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