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Hill's Pet Nutrition - Dog & Cat Foods
Hill's Pet Nutrition are a world leader in cat and dog foods. They produce a comprehensive range of premium quality diets designed for optimum health. These are available in many different dried or moist varieties. There are three different ranges of foods, namely Science Plan, Nature's Best, and the range of veterinary Prescription Diets.
All Hill's diets are "guaranteed" for palatability. This means that if an animal does not want to eat the diet, the cost of the diet will be refunded. This does not however cover the cost of postage and packing if the diet is bought over the internet etc. Some suppliers might also require the return of the uneaten food at the purchaser's expense before the cost of the food could be refunded. Like most suppliers, VioVet charges its customers less for postage than it costs us, so the full amount of the diet may not be refunded, depending on the exact situation (but this fee is unlikely to be much more than a pound or two).
Hill's Science Plan
This includes many different diets, carefully designed for different categories of cats or dogs. They are intended to be ideal, general maintenance diets for healthy individuals. They come in specific varieties for animals of different ages, different sizes, or particular situations (for example cats which live just indoors, or animals which have a sensitive skin or digestion). A lot of these diets are also available in different flavours to add variety. Use the links in the table above to find the diet you are looking for.
All the diets take into account up-to-date information on the nutritional factors which are involved in achieving and maintaining good health, and the latest manufacturing technology. So if recent research shows that certain forms of fibre help to prevent the formation of gastro-intestinal hair balls in cats, then this factor is given more prominence in their "hair ball" diet than in, for example, the diet for sensitive skin. A comprehensive list of the Hills Science Plan diets is available by clicking here for dogs and here for cats.
Hill's Prescription Diets
These diets do not actually require any sort of prescription from a vet, but they should only be used under veterinary advice and supervision. This is because they have different concentrations of nutrients in them, designed for specific purposes. For instance an animal with reduced kidney function will often benefit significantly from a diet intended to help with this problem, but the diet might be totally unsuitable for an animal with certain digestive complaints.
Hills were the first company to produce a large range of different diets designed particularly to aid specific medical conditions and they remain a world leader in this area. There are dozens of different diets in this range. The diets are given names which indicate the sort of condition they are intended for, so Feline k/d is the diet meant for cats with kidney disorders. This particular diet then comes in pouches, tins or dried forms, to allow for individual preferences. The range of Hills Prescription Diets can be seen by following one of the links in the table above.
Hill's Nature's Best Diets
Hills Natures Best is a smaller range of maintenance diets based exclusively around "wholesome natural ingredients". No artificial colours, preservatives or flavours are used, and a number of antioxidants are included to help the immune system. The range of diets can be found by clicking on one of the links above.
Some thoughts on modern pet foods
The advances in pet nutrition which have come about through the efforts of Hills and other manufacturers have made a significant contribution to the increased health, vitality and life span which is seen in pet dogs and cats compared with just a few decades ago. These types of diet are not however free of criticisms. Some of these are probably fair, some are not.
The biggest genuine down side to these diets is the tendency for them to encourage animals to be over fed and become fat or obese. This is due to their high palatability and relatively high concentration of nutrients. Animals do not become fat if they are not over fed, but it is a mistake which is all too easy to make. The recommended feeding amounts are very generous and many dogs or cats should be given much less. Most people want to be generous towards their pets, like to see them enjoy their food and think that they should feel satisfied (in other words "full") after a meal. This produces lots of overweight animals. In the past, diets were simply not as palatable. This one factor alone means that given the chance, animals will eat more of the food than they should.
These diets are also criticised sometimes on the basis of not being "natural" or being "manufactured" or "artificial". These notions hold an inherent appeal for many people, but in fact are probably not appropriate. The dogs we keep these days are also not "natural". They would not survive for very long at all if forced to hunt for food in the wild. Also most of us do not want to offer them carcases of dead animals to eat. Especially not in the putrid state that wild dogs might tend to scavenge and consume. The truth is that we are able to feed diets to our dogs which are carefully made to suit their requirements. This is clearly the best thing to do.