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Royal Canin Dog Food Review | Ratings | Recalls

Ahhhh … Royal Canin … venerated by some, mistrusted by others. You’ll find a lot of opinions about the brand thrown about the internet; particularly by the crowd staunchly defiant to the status quo.

Royal Canin is, however, a brand that withstood both criticism and the test of time, and since the early days, Royal Canin approached animal nutrition with a scientific mindset.

They stick to their guns letting research dictate their dog food formulations rather than their client’s opinions. Many years later Royal Canin keeps delivering quality nutrition keeping their faithful client base happy and wanting more.

As a veterinarian and dog owner, I have personally used their products in the clinic and at home. I was always satisfied with the quality of their dog food. The veterinary range pays a lot of attention to nuances and often leads to good results in my everyday clinical practice.

Their retail products are also of very high quality, however, I would only use the breed specific range for breeds with very specific nutritional needs. (ex. Dalmatians) 

Their product pricing is generally on the steeper side. However, I feel that the quality of the food justifies the price.

Continue reading below if you want a more detailed Royal Canin dog food review.

Hi, this is Corey! Are questions about dog food boggling your mind?
This is where I come in! I am a veterinarian with an interest in dog nutrition. I deal with questions about dog food on a daily basis.
I am the proud dad of 5 dogs and am very invested in making sure my dogs get the best diet for their needs.

The guys and gals at Dog Food Heaven and myself are here to give you the lowdown on the dog food brands you find on the market.

We promise honest, no-nonsense reviews.

About Royal Canin

Royal Canin, while not being among the oldest dog food manufacturers, has quite a rich history. It was the first company to manufacture extruded dog food in France after purchasing a food extruder from America.

Let’s learn more about what makes this brand so popular with its fans, while putting some people off.

royal canin logo

Royal Canin’s History

In the picturesque town of Puy-en-Velay, a French vet by the name of  Jean Cathary started the brand in 1968. Cathay believed, through personal experience, that diet can significantly impact an animal’s health.

1968 saw him formulating his first-ever Royal Canin dog food: “yellow soup for dogs”.

He then registered Royal Canin as a company. Over the years the company grew in size and standing to become one of the pet food juggernauts that it is today.

Mars added Royal Canin to its portfolio in 2001. Royal Canin then opened a number of facilities around the world making their high quality, science-based nutrition accessible to more dogs around the world.

Royal Canin also invests heavily in research and development.  It is the publisher for the well respected Veterinary Focus magazine. This scientific magazine is translated in a number of different languages, providing vets with a wealth of up to date knowledge on a regular basis.

The brand also publishes books about nutrition, breeding, and other topics of veterinary relevance. All this secures the brand’s front seat in the science-based nutrition arena.   

Royal Canin’s Food quality

Over its long history, Royal Canin experienced very few product recalls. This proves that its quality control measures are one of the best in the industry.

are also used and endorsed by a lot of canine specialists (ex. police K-9 units of various countries) who often use dog food from their Professional product range. 

They are also known for sticking to their beliefs; they are willing to go against the grain when it comes to what they think is best for their four-legged consumers. An example is how they are moving away from flavored diets.

They are instead basing their new diet formulations on findings showing that dogs prefer foods based on their macronutrient content rather than flavor. [1, 2]

Royal Canin’s Environmental Policy

Royal Canin also shines in its Environmental Policy. Under the wing of Mars Inc., Royal Canin is on board with the Sustainable in a Generation Plan. You can see more about all their initiatives here.

The company based its sustainability policy on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The policy they devised hinges on three principles:

Healthy planet: Fighting climate change, water stress, deforestation, and unsustainable packaging practices.

Thriving people: Improving the livelihood of people in their value chain while respecting their human rights.

Nourishing well being: Improving product nutritional value and the science of food safety. They are also favoring policies that value transparency with consumers.

Royal Canin and controversy

If you love yourself some dog food drama, Royal Canin is not going to leave you short of any entertainment.

Excess Vitamin D

Royal Canin ended up in the headlines when some pet owners filed a lawsuit against the company after some dogs died and others became very sick.

They suspected a link to excessive Vitamin D in some Royal Canin dog foods. The lawsuit was unable to show that the deaths of the dogs were related to this food. [3, 4]

Royal Canin issued a statement to its clients and recalled the affected products. In the statement the brand acknowledged an over average Vitamin D level in some of their products.

This happened because of an error done by one of their vitamin premix suppliers. They have not used this supplier’s services again since then.

After this incident, the company started testing vitamin D levels and further improved the quality control of their finished products. [5]

Is it worth the price?

Royal Canin, Iams, Purina and Hills are all back on the legal chopping block; this time after a law firm filed a class-action law-suit. The above brands are being accused of overcharging their clients for their prescription diets.

The law firm argues that these diets have no controlled drugs in them and are not FDA approved as needing a prescription and therefore should not be treated as such.

The law firm implies that by treating these diets as needing a prescription Royal Canin and the veterinary community are profiting unjustly. [6]

The law firm is not taking into consideration that these diets can harm healthy dogs. I think it is important for these diets to be controlled by licensed vets and prevent them from being used irresponsibly.

Sponsoring bear baiting?

There is one occasion where I find Royal Canin’s principles to be questionable. Royal Canin was found to be a sponsor for an illegal bear baiting operation in Ukraine.

Royal Canin said that the company was unaware of this and that they were horrified to learn they sponsored such an event. They said that they were humbled by this incident, and that it was a lesson that they need to be more diligent about their policy.

It is very possible that their regional representative sponsored the event without their knowledge. Royal Canin immediately denounced the event and revoked their sponsorship.

They instead engaged in talks with Four Paws to see how they can help bears suffering such abuse. Bear baiting is still common in Ukraine despite being illegal.

There is little Royal Canin and Mars can do without the support and involvement of national authorities. [7, 8]

Being in the limelight is no easy task. It should therefore not come as a surprise that this brand makes it into the news every so often.

Royal Canin Product Lines

Royal Canin diets aren’t easy to classify. There are obvious product group differences but they do not officially categorize them the same way other brands do.

The following is our attempt at categorizing these products effectively.

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition

Royal Canin’s dog size categories are extra small (x-small), small, medium, large (maxi), giant.

These diets are formulated to accompany your dog through the different phases of their four-legged lives while keeping them healthy as long as possible.

Puppy

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Puppy

Dogs, like us, have one shot at life. Royal Canin makes sure that they are getting the best of chances.

Their Starter Mother and Baby dog range covers the time of late pregnancy to weaning. Young puppies are then put on the Puppy range to help them sail through this delicate period. 

These ranges offer options for all size categories mentioned above. They also have an extra “Active” category for young large and giant dogs that have higher energy requirements.

The giant category also has an additional life stage called “junior” that falls in between the puppy and adult stages. It aims to cater to the more specific nutritional requirements associated with giant dog breed development.

Adult

royal canin size health nutrition

This is Royal Canin’s basic food range. These diets are high-quality dog food that cater to the needs of healthy, adult dogs. The range has a choice of products for the different weight categories mentioned above. 

The Adult range benefits from an extra age category that aims to meet the dietary needs of older dogs.

This hinges on the principle that larger dogs age faster and have shorter lifespans than smaller dogs. (ex. x-small adult 8+, mini adult 8+, Medium adult 7+, Maxi adult 5+) .

Aging Dog

royal canin size health nutrition aging

This range was designed for healthy geriatric dogs suffering from no chronic medical conditions.

The diets available are:

  • x-small ageing +12
  • Mini ageing +12
  • Medium aging 10+
  • Maxi aging 8+

These diets are all rich in EPA, DHA, and other Omega 3 fatty acids. They are also rich in antioxidants.

These help an aging dog’s weakening immune system with neutralizing free radicals that can accumulate and cause them harm.

These diets also take into consideration the specific challenges of senior dogs of different body sizes. (ex. joint wear and tear in large dog breeds).

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Products

This product category aims to tackle the nutritional nuances of specific breeds. This makes sense because certain dog breeds suffer from genetic diseases.

Specific dietary practices can sometimes help manage these diseases. Here is where the Royal Canin Breed specific diets really shine. An example of such a breed is the Dalmatian.

Dalmatians are prone to developing bladder stones and heart problems. Royal Canin’s Dalmatian diet is low in purines and high in taurine and the Omega 3s EPA and DHA to prevent these diseases. [9, 10]

They have diets for breeds like Boxer, Great Dane, Bulldog, and many more. These breed-specific diets also have different formulations for specific life stages.

I would advise researching well about your dog’s breed before buying these diets. The premise that some breeds have very specific dietary requirements is valid.

However, some of these diets can also be a bit of a gimmick. Mind you, they do really work the way they claim to!

However, a less expensive Royal Canin diet in addition to some lifestyle adjustments might be just what your dog needs and could save you some money.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diets

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Products

I feel that this product range is where all of Royal Canin’s work and research come to fruition. The range has everything from pediatric products to intensive care liquid diets.

They also produce many therapeutic diets in dry and wet forms making it easy to mix them both without compromising the therapeutic benefits of the diet.

I have used these diets on many occasions and was very satisfied with the results I got in most of my patients. 

These products target different conditions and as such are all very different from each other. Their common feature is the great amount of research that goes into their design.

Royal Canin keeps updating these formulations to keep up with the latest research.

Royal Canin Dog Food Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2006 If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

  • 11th May 2007 –  Some Royal Canin Sensible Choice and Royal Canin Kasco dry food products with date codes between the 28th July 2007 and 30th April 2008 were recalled. Reason: Possible Melamine contamination. [11]
  • 19th April 2007 – Some Royal Canin Veterinary Diets and Royal Canin Sensible Choice dry food products were recalled. Reason: Possible Melamine contamination. [12]
  • 2nd February 2006 – Some Royal Canin Veterinary wet food were recalled. Reason: Excessive Vitamin D3. [13]

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. [14]

FAQ

Is Royal Canin dog food good?

I was always very satisfied with Royal Canin’s products. I also think that their low number of recalls is a reflection of their high standard quality control.

When a recall happened, Royal Canin always seems to have taken it as an opportunity to refine its quality control processes.

Judging from my clinical and personal experience, I think that you can’t go wrong with feeding Royal Canin dog food.

Is Royal Canin dog food high-quality food?

It depends on what you understand by the term “high quality”. Royal Canin put a lot of research and thought into the quantities and types of ingredients they use in their dog foods.

I prefer to use this as a metric as it is less ambiguous. In this case: yes, Royal Canin products are of consistently high quality.

Is chicken by product meal used in Royal Canin dog food?

Yes, it is. Using chicken by product meal allows Royal Canin to stick to their formula’s macronutrient profile while keeping faithful to their sustainability goals.

Chicken by product meal does not make dog food inferior. Using this ingredient is also beneficial for the environment as the practice reduces food waste.

As long as dog food manufacturers make sure that the nutrient content of a food tallies up to the guaranteed analysis of the formula, chicken by product meal should not affect the quality and safety of the food, and is an excellent source of protein and minerals.

Where is Royal Canin dog food made?

Royal Canin has manufacturing facilities peppered around the world. There are facilities in France, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, UK, Poland, Canada, USA, China, and South Korea.

In this way the company ensures that it has a strong distribution network around the globe, making sure that most dog owners have access to their products.

Is Royal Canin dog food AAFCO approved?

It is important to understand that there is no such thing as an AAFCO approved dog food. However, we can reassure you that Royal Canin dog food does live up to AAFCO standards

Vet’s opinion

As both a veterinarian and a dog owner, my personal experience with the brand is a positive one. I’ve used Royal Canin’s veterinary prescription diets very effectively with my patients. My dogs also did very well when fed Royal Canin. 

I spent some time working as a veterinary representative for a vet and pet supplies company. One of the brands the company supplied was Royal Canin.

It took little effort to promote the brand as the quality of its products often spoke for itself. Most veterinarians found the veterinary range very effective in a clinical setting and this made them repeat customers.

Royal Canin also doesn’t issue recalls regularly. Besides the Melamine contamination (that affected a number of different companies) and the excess Vitamin D3 incident, the company has a good track record.

Their environmental policy is not perfect but has a vision. It convinces me that efforts are being made to reduce my dogs’ footprint on the environment. It gives me a cleaner conscience knowing that my dogs and I are being better planetary citizens.

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