Feeding time is more than an everyday ritual for your pet — it’s a special bonding experience that engages all of their senses.
Whether it’s a wellness recipe for everyday health or a therapeutic formula where nutrition is a lifeline, pet food only works if your pet wants to eat it. That’s why Hill’s takes a science-led approach to all of the elements that make their mealtime a satisfying and rewarding event.
The experts always get the final word
Every pet food we create is reviewed by the dogs and cats at our Pet Nutrition Center (PNC). Our pet “colleagues” take their jobs very seriously, and they should — their opinions decide which tastes work.
In addition to enjoying lots of love and playtime, these pets have several very important jobs, like telling us how our foods impact pets from their noses to their tails. This includes:
- Which aromas entice dogs and cats
- The tastes and textures pets love
- The right size and shape for each of our foods
May the best tasting pet food win
Every flavor profile we create undergoes a series of taste tests with the dogs and cats at the PNC to see what they prefer. We present each group of dogs or cats with different foods and see which one they choose. We record the amount of each food consumed by each pet, and use this data to determine with confidence which one was preferred.
Understanding the science of flavor
Our team of experts works to ensure all our foods deliver nutrition that appeals to the acute senses of dogs and cats. We employ a full team of scientists who are constantly testing new combinations of scent and taste to create the most appealing pet food flavors.
We look for ingredients that combine high-quality nutrition with flavors pets love. Some examples include:
Oils & Fats
The aroma of pet food can determine a dog or cat’s interest before they even reach the bowl.
A single pet food can have up to 200 distinct flavor/aroma molecules. On a good day, our human noses may only be able to identify 15-20 of them. Using sophisticated techniques, our state-of-the-art analytical lab helps us dissect complex flavors and aromas on the molecular level to help us understand the eating experience from a pet’s perspective.
Making sense of scent
For us to compare and replicate different aroma profiles, we first need a way to describe them. Our human sensory panel uses precise language to distinguish distinct aromatic attributes. Descriptors such as “toasted” and “meaty” are used to create an elaborate flavor profile we call the aromagram.
Each aromagram acts almost like a “flavor fingerprint” for a particular pet food. By taste testing with pets and comparing these profiles, we can better understand which ones are liked or disliked by dogs and cats.
The right taste involves all the senses, and the physical attributes of the pet food itself play an important role in your pet’s mealtime.
Designing a better kibble
Kibble shapes are designed for different eating preferences and efficacy
Texture plays a role and dogs and cats like to crunch and chew their kibble in different ways
Kibble size matters, especially for dogs, where bigger is better relative to the size of the dog
What it all comes down to: happy, healthy pets
Before any Hill’s product reaches your pet’s bowl, it has already undergone numerous tests and quality checks — by our team of nutritionists, veterinarians, dieticians, food scientists and discerning pets — to ensure mealtime is always a rewarding experience for your furry friend.