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 product line includes one canned dog food, a recipe designed to help with the support of pets with skin or food sensitivities.

Hill's Prescription Diet Z/D Canine

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 20% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 58%

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

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.9%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis20%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis20%14%58%
Calorie Weighted Basis18%31%52%
Protein = 18% | Fat = 31% | Carbs = 52%

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 one notable exception

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 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 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 20%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 58%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 71%.

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 is a plant-based canned dog food using a limited amount of hydrolyzed chicken liver as its main source of animal protein.

However, due to its intentional therapeutic design, this dog food is not rated.

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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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.

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

Notes and Updates

09/23/2016 Last Update

  • Michael Arnold

    Z/d hills cost twice as much as it should. What could I use instead?

  • Pitlove

    I base my choice of brand off this list of guidelines http://www.wsava.org/sites/default/files/Recommendations%20on%20Selecting%20Pet%20Foods.pdf
    And then choose a product within the brand I picked that fits my pets needs based on age, lifestyle etc.

  • Patricia gatesman

    How are you supposed to know which is the best product then?

  • Pitlove

    Online consumer review and rating websites are not the best way to evaluate whether or not a pet food will work for your particular pet and it’s condition.

    Neither is an ingredient deck. It does not tell you the quality of the raw materials, how they were processed and handled, what quality control practices are in place, how the raw materials are stored, and who is formulating the diets and what their credentials are. That is why veterinary nutritionists do not evaluate the quality of a food by an ingredient deck.

  • Pitlove

    Wouldn’t have expected anything less from Ms. Becker.

    I find it interesting that she states that prescription diets have no business requiring a prescription because they contain no actual drugs, yet goes on to say how the diets are not suitable for healthy pets and could cause issues. I guess she did not make the connection that the reason they require a prescription is because they ARENT suitable for healthy pets and having them sold OTC could create a lot of problems.

    I still wonder how Ms. Becker has a license to practice veterinary medicine. *sigh*

  • Pitlove

    There was a research study performed (might have been at UC Davis but I could be wrong) showing that all LID over the counter diets tested were cross contaminated with other proteins. The study can be found online.

    As for the other info, it was explained to me by my vet and also in a nutrition lecture at school.

  • Patricia gatesman

    But the Hills and the Royal Canin food have really bad reviews that they contain crap ingredients, slaughtered carcasses with heads, beaks and any thing apart from feathers?

  • Patricia gatesman

    Thank you. How do you know this?

  • Pitlove

    There is absolutely nothing bad about being successful.

  • Amateria

    Yeah well if I was making 40 billion a year I’d have enough money to sterilise everything as well lol.

  • Amateria

    Maybe it’s your browser, try searching for this.

    Do You Buy Pet Food From Any of These 6 Con Artists?

  • Pitlove

    Hi Patricia-
    Most, if not all, over the counter limited ingredient foods when tested are contaminated with other proteins. The diets like Z/D sold at the vet are pure because extensive quality control is in place to make sure of it. The machines are sterilized in between each run which costs a lot of money to do, therefore commercial brands don’t do it. Also Z/D has a hydrolyzed source of protein in it, something else commercial products don’t have.

  • Pitlove

    Link is broken for me

  • Patricia gatesman

    Can. Anyone recommend a tinned dog food with a single ingredient of venison with a low fat to use instead of Z/D Hills?

  • Amateria
  • Patricia gatesman

    What does everyone think of HILLS Z/D tinned dog food?

  • 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.