Frequently Asked Questions

How long will food take to help my pet’s skin condition?

Skin conditions are complicated and there’s no standard answer for how long food can take to help. Some conditions can be cleared up within a few weeks by feeding the right type of food, but others require a multimodal treatment approach and resolution can take longer and is more gradual.

Do you have samples of the product?

All our products have a 100% Money Back Guarantee so you can try the new product with confidence that if you are not satisfied with the food, we will give you your money back.

How do I change my pet over to a new food?

Remember you should transition your pet on to the new food by gradually introducing the food over 5-10 days. Mix approximately 10% of the new food each day, in with the old food, gradually increasing the amount of new food.

Can I mix wet and dry food?

With most of our products, mixing wet with dry of the same product is fine.

My dog's hair is falling out excessively, especially during hot summer periods. What can I do to treat this?

While it is natural for some breeds to shed more hair in summer, it could well be a sign of a skin condition. Have a look at signs and symptoms here.

Is Derm Defense available for cats?

We don't have Hill’s Derm Defense for cats as cats tend to be more indoors and less subjected to environmental allergies. If your cat has a skin condition, ask your vet about our Prescription Diet d/d and z/d range.

Is Derm Defense available in a mini kibble?

It is not available in a mini kibble. The Derm Defense kibble is a little smaller than our Science Plan Adult Medium. We have heard reviews from mini dog owners that their dogs had no issue and took to the Derm Defense well. If you still concerned, remember all our products have a 100% Money Back Guarantee so you can try the new product with confidence that if you are not satisfied with the food, we will give you your money back.

Are the Prescription Diet skincare products suitable for puppies?

We do not recommend that you feed Prescription Diet Derm Defense, z/d or d/d to puppies. Speak to your vet about options for puppies.

What are hot spots and can food help?

Hot spots are areas of localised pyoderma (bacterial skin infection) that are inflamed, full of puss and intensely itchy. They generally occur due to self-trauma – scratching, licking and biting of the skin due to itchiness that can be caused by flea or environmental allergies, foreign body (e.g. grass awn) and possibly food allergy. The infection increases the itchiness and irritation which increases the self-trauma to the skin, helping to spread the infected area. Matting of the hair with pus also helps spread the infected area.

Acute treatment for existing hotspots includes shaving, cleaning and localised treatment with antibacterial/anti-itch lotions and possibly systemic antibiotics. The use of a specially formulated food can alleviate the itchiness that caused the problem in the first place. Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ Derm Defense™ would be the best diet for this, as it strengthens the skin barrier, reduces the effects of allergens and reduces inflammation.

Do you recommend frequently washing your dog to help with their skin condition?

It depends on the skin condition. For environmental allergies it may be helpful to wash regularly to reduce the contact of allergens (e.g. pollen) with the skin, especially during the hotter seasons and when exposure has been high, such as after having taken your dog for a walk in a bushy area.  Be careful to use the correct shampoos as recommended by your vet to avoid stripping the skin and coat of protective fatty acids. Use cool water and don’t blow dry with hot air. For food allergies, regular washing is not necessary.

As long as the skin is healthy there should be no need for regular bathing.

Are there any natural/topical ointments to use for my pet to alleviate their skin condition?

There are many lotions and potions that can be used on the skin for various ailments – some medicated and some not. Before using a lotion or ointment, please consult your vet. The skin is designed as a barrier and is also a large “organ of the body”, so for the most effective long-term management of skin conditions it is imperative to look after the health from the inside. Feeding your pet the right type of food is the most obvious and easiest way to provide the nutrients to help maintain a healthy barrier and reduce inflammation.

What is dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a general word for “inflammatory skin disease”.  The skin generally reacts in the same way to most insults (allergy, trauma, insect bites) by mounting an immune response. When this immune response is not controlled, inflammation ensues with itchiness and self-trauma that exacerbate the situation. There are different types of Dermatitis, named due to their cause – Infectious Dermatitis, Allergic Dermatitis, Flea Bite Dermatitis, etc.

How do I know if my pet has a skin disease?

A precise diagnosis of the causes of a skin disease requires a detailed history, physical examination, and possibly appropriate diagnostic tests and maybe an elimination diet. Many skin diseases have similar signs which complicate matters. See our signs and symptoms for more.

My pet refuses to eat the food. What do I do?

Pets are creatures of habit and may need some help in switching to a new food. Unless recommended otherwise by a veterinarian, gradually introduce any new food over a seven-day period. Mix the new food with your pet's former food, gradually increasing the amount until only the new food is fed.

Most pets readily accept these foods, but some are more reluctant than others to give up what is familiar to them. If your pet does not easily switch, you may want to try one of the following suggestions:

Warming the food or adding warm water enhances the food's smell and flavor.

Do not leave food available at all times. Consider meal feeding every three to four hours, 15-20 minutes each time.

Is this food only available at vets?

Our Prescription Diets are available exclusively through veterinary practices. We rely on the veterinary healthcare team as these are therapeutic diets for pets with health conditions and vets are needed to properly diagnose these conditions first before recommending the proper diet. You can use our Store Locator to find a vet practice near you by simply clicking here HillsStoreLocator.co.za and entering your area in the search bar.

I’ve heard that grains can be bad for a pet’s skin. Is this true?

This is not entirely true. Many pets with food allergies have reactions to ingredients like beef and dairy. However some pets are inherently sensitive to some foods like wheat just like humans. However in most cases eating grains won’t cause an allergic reaction. In fact, high-quality grains in a pet’s food can provide a lot of benefit. They contain valuable carbohydrates for energy, fibre for digestive health as well as essential proteins.  At Hill’s, we have grain and grain free foods as well as different sources of carbohydrates.

Can I feed my pet raw food to help their skin?

At Hill’s we don’t recommend feeding a raw food diet. Pets can be affected by bacteria found in raw meat, they could choke on bones or break their teeth. Raw diets are often unbalanced nutritionally, meaning the pet is not getting the right nutrients for a long and healthy life. Our foods contain high-quality ingredients and our research proves that it’s the proper balance of nutrients supplied by these ingredients that is really key. In fact, a wide range of common disease conditions can be made worse or even caused by consistently feeding foods with an incorrect balance of nutrients. Guided by our evidence-based research, Hill’s formulates its foods with the precise balance of these nutrients to meet the specific needs of pets associated with their life stage, size or special needs.

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