Purina Pro Plan vs Science Diet

Purina Pro Plan vs. Science Diet: Which is the Best Dog Food?

As a fellow dog lover, I can relate to the dilemma of choosing between Purina Pro Plan and Hill’s Science Diet as your furry friend’s next meal.

It’s a tough call to make, given that both brands have been widely recognized as good quality pet food options and are available at similar price points. But don’t let their similarities fool you. Each brand has its unique features that you should take into consideration when selecting your dog’s food.

Fear not, my canine companions! I’m here to guide you through the decision-making process so you can make an informed choice that best suits your pup’s needs.

By the time you’re finished reading this, you will be equipped with all the details needed to make an informed decision on which brand best suits your needs-taking into account their background, ingredients, nutritional information, and selection of formulae.

So let’s dive in and compare Purina Pro and Science Diet from top to bottom!

FactorsPurina Pro PlanScience Diet
Owned byNestle, PurinaHill's Pet Nutrition
Launched In19861968
Special FeatureHigh-Protein Real Meat With ProbioticsScientifically Formulated
Number Of Formulas140+  recipes made with different meats and grains86+ recipes designed for specific health issues in dogs
Intended forHigh-performance and competitive dogs, sensitive skin and stomach, weight management, calm behaviorVarious ailments and health issues in dogs, including dental hygiene, aging, digestive care, joint care, food sensitivity, skin care, weight management

Purina Pro Plan, The Winning Brand in Short

Purina Pro Plan is a veterinarian-recommended pet food brand that has gained popularity due to its emphasis on using real meat as the number 1 ingredient. Purina Pro Plan was the first brand to do so.

Besides that, every Purina Pro Plan dry dog food mix is supplemented with 100% live probiotics, which support the immune and digestive systems.

Pro Plan offers various dry dog food formulas, including those made with real beef, lamb, poultry, or salmon as the first ingredient.

Most recipes are targeted towards a specific need of a dog or a specific dog breed. Pet owners worldwide trust Purina Pro Plan for its quality ingredients, commitment to pet health, and delicious taste.

Brand History of Food Plan

Major dog food manufacturers Hill’s and Purina have been in business for many years. They have gained prominence over time and provide far more varieties of dog food, unlike the majority of many other animal food companies.

Before analyzing a brand, it’s important to know its origins. To do so, we’ll give a brief history of both brands.

Purina Pro Plan

Purina Pro Plan

4.7 Overall Editor Rating

Purina Pro Plan

  • 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat
  • Fine-tuned nutrition
  • High-quality dry dog food
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Purina offers a variety of products. Among their most premium-considered products is Purina Pro.

The brand follows guidelines by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association since Puria has a standard-tier partnership with WSAVA.

Purina was originally named Purina Mills, a company specializing in animal feed. However, over the years, the company shifted its focus to pet food and care products, and the Purina brand became synonymous with pet care.

In 2001, Nestlé acquired Purina for a staggering $10.3 billion, cementing the company’s position as a leader in the pet care industry.

According to its website, Purina Pro Plan has existed for approximately 85 years and is distributed globally. Over time, the brand has gained a dedicated following among pet owners.

Science Diet

Science Diet

4.7 Overall Editor Rating

Science Diet

  • Promotes digestive health
  • Packed with vitamin E
  • Omega-6 fatty acids
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Science Diet is a line of pet food products that are owned by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, a company that has been producing quality pet food for over 90 years.

The Science Diet line was first introduced in the 1930s when a prominent veterinarian approached a pet owner seeking a special diet to help their puppy’s organ failure. The veterinarian created a science-based food for the dog, which was a success.

Inspired by this success, the veterinarian established a dog food business specializing in nutrition formulas designed for specific health issues in dogs.

Over the years, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has developed many food lines. Still, Science Diet remains one of its most popular and respected brands.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition is partially owned by Colgate-Palmolive. This globally recognized company produces a wide range of consumer products.

Author’s Note: The main problem with high-name brands coming from big companies is that they are not very transparent about their practices. The bigger the company, the harder it becomes to track its sources. A small company is likely to list where they do their sourcing. This kind of thing is not important for most pet owners, but many people want transparency.

Purina Pro Plan vs. Hill’s Science Diet: 4-Factor Comparison

Purina Pro Plan vs. Hill's Science Diet 4-Factor Comparison

So here’s how it works. We compare Purina Pro Plan and Science diet in 4 categories and see who wins each round. Ready? Let’s compare the two brands based on ingredients, recipes, nutrition, and recalls.

 1. Ingredients

Since both Purina Pro Plan and Science Diet have too many recipes and various ingredients in all of them, I have reviewed five common ingredients I found in all recipes.

Purina Pro

Let’s take a closer look at the primary ingredients in Purina Pro Plan dog food.

  • Meats and Fish

Purina Pro Plan dog food is made with a variety of meats and fish, including salmon, tuna, beef, lamb, poultry, turkey, duck, and more. These ingredients are a rich source of lean protein and good fats.

  • Organ Meats

Some Purina Pro Plan dog food recipes include organ meats like the liver for an extra protein boost.

  • Grains

Grains are a common ingredient in dog food and provide a source of carbohydrates. Purina Pro Plan uses a variety of grains, including good quality options, and also offers grain-free options for dogs with allergies or sensitivities.

  • Additional Substances

Purina Pro Plan dog food also includes other substances, such as beef fat, sunflower oils, beet fiber, pea proteins, and guar gum, to enhance the nutritional value of their food.

It’s important to note that food by-products and granulated cellulose are the two substances in Purina Pro Plan that people have raised their concerns against.

Science Diet

Hill’s Science Diet dog food claims to have scientifically formulated ingredients. Here are some primary ingredients found in Hill’s Science Diet dog food:

  • Real Chicken

Chicken is the number one ingredient in Hill’s Science Diet dog food, providing high-quality protein to help support strong muscles.

  • Whole Grains

Whole grains such as brown rice, barley, and oatmeal provide complex carbohydrates to sustain energy throughout the day.

  • Fruits and Vegetables

Hill’s Science Diet dog food includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, including carrots, apples, and peas, which are a source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Dogs, however, have trouble digesting veggies.

  • Natural Preservatives

Hill’s Science Diet dog food uses natural preservatives like vitamin E to help keep the food fresh and preserve its nutrients.

  • DHA from Fish Oil

DHA is a fatty acid that helps support cognitive development in growing puppies and overall brain health in adult dogs.

A large percentage of Hill’s Science Diet dog food ingredients is nutritious grains like barley and brown rice. Hill’s Science Diet is likewise cautious about not using wheat in its dishes to prevent the development of food sensitivities.

Notably: It is widely known that grapes are toxic to dogs. However, some of the recipes in Hill’s Science Diet pet food contain an ingredient called “dried grape pomace,” which has been a topic of controversy.

Who Won?

Purina Pro Plan wins here. It uses meat and fish as the main ingredients. The brand specifies on its ingredient list when there is organ meat, meaning there is no head, feet, or other body parts that are not nutritionally viable.

Both the brands, Purina Pro Plan and Science Diet, claim to use high-quality and natural ingredients in their products. However, Purina Pro Plan uses a wider range of ingredients, including grains and meat by-products. At the same time, Science Diet focuses more on using whole foods and natural protein sources.

Even though you can see grains in Purina Pro’s ingredient listing, it provides alternatives like brown rice and oats meal which are higher-quality grains. It also provides grain-free options.

In the case of Hill’s Science Diet, there is the use of fruits and vegetables, which is not biologically appropriate for dogs despite the nutritional content they provide.

2. Recipes

For this review, I have picked out only the range of adult dog food recipes for each brand.

Purina Pro

Purina Pro Plan has a product to suit your dog’s needs, whether they are sensitive to some ingredients or merely like a certain cut of meat.

  • Grain-free and grain-inclusive options
  • Weight control alternative for puppies
  • Enhanced protein and sports formulas for pups with high-calorie consumption
  • Solutions for dogs with hypersensitive skin and tummies
  • Three primary taste choices: lamb, salmon, and chicken.

Their extensive offerings cater to the diverse needs and preferences of canines, from the littlest toy dogs to the biggest breeds, from picky eaters to those with special dietary requirements.

Science Diet

Science Diet provides 28 adult recipes to accommodate all canine types, even toy ones. They have a variety of recipes to address specific health needs, including:

  • Musculoskeletal care
  • Hypersensitive gastrointestinal system
  • Good agility
  • Fat loss
  • A basic recipe for the typical dog

Science Diet only uses chicken and lamb as the primary flavors and provides an average of 353 carbohydrates per cup. This lower carbohydrate count can benefit older dogs who struggle with weight control.

Who Won?

It’s a tie!

Even though Science Diet has a more extensive line, the Purina Pro Plan still comes close.

Comparing these product lines is a moot point since Purina Pro Plans caters to performance and competitive dogs. In contrast, Hill’s Science Diet targets life stages and health conditions.

Purina Pro Plan offers a wide range of options, from puppy food to senior dog food and even breed-specific formulas.

Meanwhile, Science Diet has a more specialized approach, with formulas tailored to meet the specific nutritional needs of dogs with conditions such as joint problems or sensitive stomachs.

3. Nutrition

Of course, as any responsible pet owner knows, the food’s nutritional information is paramount when deciding. Both brands provide detailed information about the nutrient content of their products, so you can easily compare and contrast to see which brand provides the best balance of protein, fat, fiber, and other essential nutrients for your dog.

Crude Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in a dog’s overall health and well-being. Hill’s Science Diet and Purina Pro Plan offer a range of products with varying protein content.

In terms of crude protein content, Science Diet’s protein content is about 7% lower than Purina Pro Plan.

The source of the 10 necessary amino acids is protein, which is crucial for maintaining your dog’s health. While dogs require a total of 22 amino acids for survival, they can only produce 12 of them organically, meaning that they must obtain the remaining 10 from their diet.

It’s also worth noting that the wet estimate of Science Diet is lower in protein than Purina Pro Plan.

Crude Fat

Like protein, fats are essential for maintaining your dog’s physical health and ensuring its body can function properly. Fats are important for healthy skin and coat, energy production, and even the absorption of certain vitamins.

On average, Purina Pro Plan pet food typically contains 3.23% more fat than Hill’s Science Diet pet food. It’s also important to consider the difference in fat content between wet and dry food.

Wet dog foods from Purina Pro Plan generally contain more fat than those from Hill’s Science Diet.

Who Won?

Purina takes the cake when it comes to crude fat and protein content in their products. However, it’s worth noting that the protein content alone is not the only factor to consider when choosing a pet food.

In addition to the protein and fat content, it’s important to consider the source of the protein and fats, as well as the quality and digestibility of these ingredients.

Protein from high-quality animal sources, such as chicken or beef, is typically more beneficial to dogs than protein from plant sources. Likewise, high-quality fats, such as those found in fish oil or chicken fat, can be more beneficial to your dog than low-quality fats, such as those from unknown sources.

Ultimately, the ideal amount of fat for your dog will depend on their individual needs and activity level. 

Author’s Note: The expression ‘crude’ refers to a rough estimate of the protein content in food, calculated based on the nitrogen content that has been determined. This figure indicates the quantity of protein in the food. Still, it does not indicate the quality of the protein.

 4. Recalls

As dog lovers, we know how important it is to prioritize the safety and well-being of our furry friends. Sadly, not all pet food brands share our priorities, and some may put profit over the safety of our pets. That’s why it’s important to research the recall history of any brand of pet food you’re considering.

When it comes to Purina Pro and Science Diet, both brands have had some recall history. However, it’s important to note that both brands have also taken steps to address any safety concerns and voluntarily initiated recalls when necessary.

Purina Pro

2016 saw the voluntary recall notice of select lots of Purina Pro Plan and Beneful wet dog food by Purina Pro. The recall was due to concerns about potential discrepancies in the vitamin and mineral levels that were listed on the product labels.

Purina Pro took this step to ensure that their products met the safety standards and worked closely with the FDA to identify and address the issue. The affected products were quickly removed from the market.

It’s important to note that none of Purina Pro’s dry kibbles were involved in this recall or any other recall in the brand’s history.

Science Diet

Science Diet has been involved in three voluntary recalls throughout its history. The first recall happened in 2014 when the company recalled 62 bags of kibble due to the potential presence of salmonella.

The second recall occurred in 2019 when some of Science Diet’s canned dog foods were found to contain elevated levels of vitamin D, which was traced back to a supplier error.

The brand immediately took action and initiated a voluntary recall of the products that were under suspicion.

Science Diet also extended the recall to include additional products that may have been affected by the vitamin D issue. In March 2019, Science Diet further expanded the recall to include additional products as a precautionary measure.

Who Won?

I think it’s clear that Purina wins again. However, It is worth noting that voluntary recalls demonstrate a pet food company’s commitment to safety and quality and indicate a willingness to take responsibility and address any issues promptly. While recalls are never ideal, it’s crucial to recognize that they are a crucial safety measure that protects both pets and their owners.

Highlights For The Food Brands

Before we announce our winner, let’s take a quick look at the things we’ve covered about both Purina Plan Pro and Hill’s Science Diet that make them unique.

Purina Pro

  1. Higher protein content: Purina Pro Plan has higher protein content in both dry and wet dog food compared to Hill’s Science Diet.
  2. Lower price: Purina Pro Plan is offered at a more affordable price point compared to Hill’s Science Diet.
  3. Wide range of options: Purina Pro Plan offers a variety of options, including grain-free and grain-inclusive, catering to different dog types, health concerns, and taste preferences.
  4. Established Brand: Purina Pro Plan has been around for 85 years and has a strong global presence, with headquarters in Missouri and research centers.
  5. Nutritious ingredients: Purina Pro Plan uses meats such as salmon, tuna, beef, lamb, poultry, and turkey, along with organ meats, as sources of fat and protein.

Science Diet

  1. Lower carbohydrate content: Hill’s Science Diet has a lower carbohydrate content than Purina Pro Plan, making it a better option for dogs struggling with weight control.
  2. Science-based nutrition: Hill’s Science Diet was founded by a veterinarian to provide science-based nutrition to pets, making it a reliable and trusted option.
  3. Grain-free options: Both brands offer grain-free options, but Hill’s Science Diet provides more grain-free options for dogs with digestive issues.
  4. Variety of formula choices: Hill’s Science Diet provides 28 adult recipes to accommodate different dog types and health concerns. At the same time, Purina Pro Plan offers 23 different types of adult kibble.

Although both brands perform on almost equal levels, only one can be our winner.

Purina Pro Plan Diet Takes The Trophy

Purina pro plan has come out victorious in almost all categories but let us further investigate some pros and cons of the Purina Pro Plan to give you an idea of whether it is right for you.


  • Among brands that comply with WSAVA guidelines, Pro Plan is known for offering products with a high-calorie density. This characteristic benefits dogs with high caloric needs and budget-conscious owners who want more calories per dollar spent.
  • It uses meat and fish to provide high-quality protein and healthy fats. It also includes organ meats in some recipes for an extra protein boost.
  • The brand offers a variety of grain options, including brown rice and oatmeal, as well as grain-free options.
  • Purina Pro Plan offers prices just a tad bit lower than competitive prices. Still, price translates into a deciding factor for many people.


  • It is on the calorie-dense spectrum of dog food, which may not be ideal for dogs whose owners tend to overfeed.
  • Hard to track down where the meat gets sourced, with minimal transparency.
  • It is targeted toward dogs who enter competitions. Still, there are far better options available for competitive dogs, and hence Purina fails to satisfy the target audience.

This was a close race between Purina Pro Plan and Science Diet, but Purina Pro Plan had a slight edge in the end. Purina Pro Plan has rightfully earned its crown as the winner by being two steps ahead of Hill’s Science Diet.

Why Did Hill’s Science Diet Loose?

Why Did Hill’s Science Diet Loose

Let’s talk about Hill’s Science Diet for a moment, shall we?

Now, it’s a pretty reputable brand and all, but there are a few things that just don’t sit right. Take, for instance, their use of the term “prescription.”

Have you noticed that no other dog food brand uses this term?

It’s not just because they’re not as smart as Hill’s, but because it’s unnecessary and does not mean anything in dog food terms.

However, Hill’s Science Diet has trademarked the term and doesn’t allow anyone else to use it. So, if you’re like us, this might set off a few warning bells in your head.

Final Words

Purina Pro Plan and Hill’s Science Diet are two of the major players in the dog food market. Both brands offer a wide range of options to cater to different dogs’ needs, from weight control to grain-free options and special formulas for high-performance dogs.

Even though I recommend Purina Pro Plan after this analysis, choosing one over the other will likely come down to personal preference, budget, and what ingredients and nutritional profile best suit your dog.

No matter which brand you choose, it is important to make an informed decision based on reliable and up-to-date information and to regularly review your dog’s food and adjust it as necessary to ensure they get the best possible nutrition for their health and well-being.

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