Have you whittled your dog’s next dinner down to Purina Pro Plan or Hill’s Science Diet? You’re not alone. These two popular brands are very similar and work on the premise of science to ensure top nutrition for our pups.
But is one better than the other? Or maybe your pooch has particular needs that are covered by one brand and not the other. Our guide compares them in their entirety to help you make the best decision for your best friend.
From their history and ethos to what ingredients they use and their range of formulas, by the time you’ve finished reading this guide, you’ll know which brand is best for you and Fido. Picking the right nutrition is key to the best doggy health and satisfied taste buds, so let’s start our comparison journey of Purina Pro vs. Science Diet.
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Purina Pro Plan and Science Diet are prominent names in the pet food industry. And there probably aren’t many pet owners that haven’t heard of either of these brands. Learning a little about a brand’s history can tell you a lot about what they stand for as a company.
Purina Pro Plan
Purina is a brand with various ranges. Purina Pro is one of their more premium lines. Purina was initially named Purina Mills, and it was founded by a man named William H. Danforth in 1894. Originally, Danforth was in the farm animal feed business. But after changing hands several times, Purina eventually specialized in domestic pet food and other pet products. Nestlé bought Purina in 2001 for a mammoth sum of $10.3 billion.
Purina Pro Plan is sold worldwide, and their website states that it started around 85 years ago. Purina has multiple sites for research and food production, with its HQ based in Missouri. They also have a dedicated animal health research center. What they discover in scientific research goes straight into their recipes. Purina’s ethos is to supply specialized.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition owns Science Diet, one of their food lines. Science Diet’s journey into the pet food arena began in the 1930s. A dog owner asked a leading veterinarian at the time to create dog food to resolve his pup’s kidney failure. This venture was successful, and soon after, he set up the business with his son and started other ailment-specific nutrition formulas.
Over the years, Hill’s Pet created other product lines such as Veterinary Prescription Diet, Healthy Advantage, and Bioactive Recipe. But Hill’s Science Diet remains their most popular. Their ethos is to create lifelong health, starting with science. Hill’s Pet Nutrition is part-owned by the well-known household brand Colgate-Palmolive.
As the saying goes, safety comes first. And that’s never been more important when it comes to our beloved besties. Unfortunately, some brands are more concerned with profit over the safety of our pups. Let’s dig into the recall history of Purina Pro and Science Diet to help you determine whether they are safe. A recall occurs when a product is removed from the market over safety concerns.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is concerned with product recalls. Recalls are made by the company, FDA request, or FDA order under statutory authority. It is important to understand how many occasions a brand’s food has been recalled, and how they dealt with it. Let’s see how Purina Pro and Science Diet’s recall history compares.
Online sources show that Purina Pro has had just one recall in its history. In March 2016, Purina voluntarily recalled a few batches of their Purina Pro Plan and Beneful wet dog food. Purina discovered that the products might not have contained the correct vitamin and mineral levels as suggested on the labels. None of their dried kibbles have been involved with a recall.
Sources show that Hill’s Science Diet has been involved with three product recalls, all of which were voluntary. The first was in June 2014, where 62 bags of kibble were recalled because there was a potential risk of them being contaminated with salmonella. The next occurred in January 2019, where a selection of canned dog foods was suspected of containing elevated levels of vitamin D. This was blamed on supplier error. In March 2019, Science Diet took the initiative to extend the product recall from the previous heightened vitamin D problem.
Purina Pro and Science Diet claim that they use the best quality ingredients dictated by scientific research. However, many brands who have previously made this claim were found not to be truthful. So, let’s look at what food ingredients they use in their recipes.
Many canine nutritionists and critics claim that real meat should be the first ingredient in all high-quality kibbles. Purina Pro nearly always lists real meat as the first ingredient, but this isn’t the case in all of their recipes. But because they are based their recipes on scientific research, some formulas use other ingredients first. Many of their formulas also use corn, wheat, and soy. And some experts claim that these grains are too harsh on canine digestive systems. But like before, science shows that this is not the case for every dog.
Another criticism of Purina Pro and their ingredients is that they use meat by-products and by-product meals in some of their recipes in addition to real meat. Some canine nutritionists believe that these are lower quality than real meats. Still, some say that it depends on which animal parts are used. Purina states that they do not use feathers, hide, or hair in their meat by-products on their website. They only use nutritionally beneficial animal parts such as organs and blood.
Overall, the ingredients they use are quality and dictated by science. So, if you want to feed Fido a diet that is scientifically proven to be nutritional, Purina Pro is a good option. Generally, their protein contents are high, and they use healthy omega fats, probiotics for gut health, and a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements for strong immunity.
The usage of Science Diet’s ingredients is similar to Purina Pros. They choose ingredients supported by scientific research rather than sticking to 100% natural ingredients that are unprocessed in any way. Meaning if you prefer to stick to an all-natural diet, Science Diet is not the best option for you. And like Purina Pro Plan, many of their formulas list corn, wheat, and soy.
Hill’s Science Diet consistently names its by-products, whereas Purina Pro often does not. For example, Purina Pro often lists ‘poultry by-product meal,’ but this doesn’t detail which parts or specific bird is included in this ingredient. This could be important since a dog might be allergic to turkey but not chicken. In contrast, Science Diet appears to always name their meat, i.e., chicken by-product meal or turkey by-product meal.
Range Of Formulas
All dogs are unique, especially regarding flavor preferences and dietary needs. It’s important for brands to offer a wide variety of formulas and options. Brands also need to cater to puppies, adults, and seniors, as well as small, medium, and large breeds, because they all have different nutritional needs. Let’s see what Purina Pro and Science Diet have to offer.
Giving your puppy the best start in life has a lot to do with giving them the best nutrition. Not only does it set the foundations for a healthy body and lifestyle, but it can also decrease the chances of our pups developing certain health conditions. Small pups require more energy per pound than large breeds, and large breeds need controlled nutrition to prevent rapid bone growth. Let’s see what Purina Pro and Science Diet can offer our small pups.
Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula
- Top pick for puppies.
- Prebiotic fibers for digestion.
- Omega fatty acids for skin health.
- DHA for brain development.
- Manufactured in the United States.
- 468 Calories per cup.
- 28% Protein, 18% Fat, 3% Fiber.
Purina offers ten puppy products in their Pro Plan line. These include recipe options for different-sized pups, including small, medium, and large. And they also cater to different dietary needs, such as pups with sensitive skin and stomachs and those with varied flavor preferences. Their puppy food contains DHA and ARA, healthy omega-fatty acids needed for best puppy development.
Science Diet has a total of six puppy kibbles. Two of these options are for large breeds, one option is for small breeds, and the other is for toy dog breeds. There is a standard recipe that most average dogs do well on. One formula does not include wheat, corn, and soy for puppies who find these ingredients harder to digest.
The award for the best range of puppy kibbles goes to Purina Pro. They have several more puppy options than Science Diet and more flavors under their belt too. Plus, they have an option for those with sensitive skin and stomachs.
The longest stage of a dog’s life is adulthood. Most dog owners are aware of their dog’s unique dietary needs by this stage. So brands need to offer a wide range of formulas to cater to every pup’s needs. Some dogs need performance kibble if they are out working all day, and others need a helping hand to manage their weight. Let’s take a look at how Purina Pro and Science Diet compare.
Hill's Science Diet Perfect Weight
- Top pick for adult dogs.
- Veterinarian endorsed brand.
- Supports muscle retention.
- Made with all-natural ingredients.
- Helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Made in the United States.
- 291 Calories per cup
- 24% Protein, 9% Fat, 13% Fiber.
Purina Pro has a selection of 23 kibble options for adult canines. There are options for all sizes of dogs, including toy and giant breeds. They have a weight management option for different-sized pups and higher protein and performance formulas for dogs with high energy needs. Like before, there are options for dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs. And three main flavor options, including chicken, salmon, and lamb. Plus, there’s a mixture of grain-free and grain-inclusive choices.
Science Diet offers 28 adult formulas, catering to all the different doggy sizes, including toy breeds. In addition to a standard formula for the average pooch, they also offer products for specific health conditions, including oral care, joint care, sensitive digestive systems, healthy mobility, and weight management. The primary flavors are limited to chicken and lamb. The specific product we recommend above weighs in at 353 calories per cup, much lower than the options available from Purina Pro Plan’s senior offerings. This is a plus if your aging dog is struggling with weight management as many do.
The winner of the adult formula range is Science Diet. Not only do they offer more formulas, but they also have specific recipes for adults with particular ailments, which many other brands do not offer. The only criticism we have of their adult range is that there are only two primary protein flavors, meaning those who don’t like or are allergic to these options are excluded.
Your pooch needs to make the switch to senior food when the time is right. Older pups need much less energy than before. Otherwise, they quickly put on too much weight. And they also need more supplements than adult dogs to keep them feeling youthful. Let’s compare Purina Pro and Science Diet’s senior options.
Hill's Science Diet Senior Dog Food Formula
- Top pick for senior dogs.
- Made from high-quality & natural ingredients.
- Antioxidant-rich dog food.
- Veterinarian endorsed brand.
- Made in the United States.
- 353 Calories per cup.
- 15.5% Protein, 10.5% Fat, 4% Fiber.
Purina Pro offers three senior-specific kibble options. The ‘complete essentials’ option is a generic kibble for most senior dogs. Small pups and large breeds are catered for with a kibble choice each. And their final option is labeled ‘brighter minds,’ which is infused with botanical oils to sharpen senior cognitive function. It’s worth noting that Purina Pro’s senior options are averagely higher in fat and energy compared to other brands. So, some inactive seniors might find these options unsuitable. In the various senior kibbles, calories range from 423-487 per cup.
Science Diet offers a total of more than a dozen senior kibbles. One of these is designed specifically for smaller breeds aged 11+ as they tend to outlive their giant doggy cousins. There is also an option for large breeds that need a higher glucosamine content.
While Purina Pro’s senior offerings are an excellent choice for complete nutrition, they can’t compete with Science Diet in this category. Science Diet’s broad selection of recipes addresses the most common health and wellness issues among older dogs, and it’s the one category where they offer a grain-free formula. Science Diet also offers lower calorie senior recipes than Purina Pro Plan, a common concern in aging dogs who need a weight management diet. Science Diet is the clear winner for senior dogs.
Canned food is a great way to mix up dried kibble. Either because some dogs find it way too boring, and some cannot eat it alone because it is too hard or dry. So a brand should offer additional canned food options too. Let’s see how Purina Pro and Science Diet compare.
Purina Pro Plan Savor Formula
- Top wet food pick.
- It can be used as a topper or full meal.
- Real beef is the first ingredient.
- Omega fatty acids for skin and coat health.
- Made in the United States.
- 435 Calories per can.
- 9% Protein, 6% Fat, 1.5% Fiber.
Purina Pro offers 46 canned food options. This gives canines a huge selection of flavors to choose from, with beef, chicken, turkey, and fish being the core flavors. Puppies, adults, and seniors are all catered for too.
Science Diet offers 32 wet food picks. Again, they cater to dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages. There are also options for healthy weight management, digestive issues, and youthful vitality. The main flavors are chicken, beef, turkey, and veggie.
Thanks to its more comprehensive selection of formulas and meats, Purina Pro wins the wet food round.
Purina Pro and Science Diet are popular pet food brands that use high-quality ingredients. They both cater to a broad market, ensuring that puppies, adults, and seniors of all sizes are cared for.
Purina Pro Plan tends to have higher protein and energy content than Hill’s Science Diet, which is better for some dogs but unsuitable for others.
Science Diet tends to be more open about their ingredients and the source of meat by-products which might appeal to some consumers.
These brands are very similar because they base their recipes on scientific research rather than the latest doggy diet trends. So, it all comes down to what your pup needs most from his food. As you can see, it is a really close race, so it’s difficult to say which one is better for your pup. But both of these brands are well-known, safe, and nutritionally balanced to take care of your pup’s health. If you still cannot decide, your vet can help you choose the best dog food for your unique furry friend.
August 25, 2022 at 9:15 am
You NEVER listed the calorie count in Purina weight management - ONLY the Science Diet!
What is the comparison here??
Michelle Schenker (Author)
August 25, 2022 at 12:12 pm
Since Science Diet won our Best for Seniors category here, we did not select one product from Purina Pro Plan (they offer three senior kibbles) and thus cannot provide a specific calorie count as we did for the one product we chose for Seniors from Hills Science Diet. That being said, the Pro Plan Senior kibble offerings range in calories from 423-487 per cup.