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Merrick Grain Free Dog Food Review (Dry)

Merrick Grain Free Dog Food Review

Rating:

Which Merrick Grain Free Recipes Get
Our Best Ratings?

Merrick Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Merrick Grain Free product line includes the 12 dry dog foods listed below.

Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Product Rating AAFCO
Merrick Grain Free Real Lamb + Sweet Potato 5 M
Merrick Grain Free Real Duck + Sweet Potato 5 M
Merrick Grain Free Real Bison, Beef + Sweet Potato 5 M
Merrick Grain Free Real Turkey + Sweet Potato 5 M
Merrick Grain Free Real Salmon + Sweet Potato 5 M
Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken + Sweet Potato 5 M
Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato 5 M
Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe 5 M
Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato 5 M
Merrick Grain Free Puppy Real Chicken + Sweet Potato 5 G
Merrick Grain Free Puppy Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato 4.5 G
Merrick Grain Free Large Breed Real Chicken + Sweet Potato 5 U

Recipe and Label Analysis

Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.


Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 38% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 38%

Ingredients: Deboned beef, lamb meal, salmon meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, potato protein, pork fat, natural flavor, whitefish meal, pea protein, sunflower oil, beef liver, flaxseed, potassium chloride, salt, apples, blueberries, organic dehydrated alfalfa meal, choline chloride, salmon oil, minerals (iron amino acid complex, zinc amino acid complex, zinc sulfate, sodium selenite, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, cobalt proteinate, cobalt carbonate), taurine, Yucca schidigera extract, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A acetate, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, folic acid, niacin, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement), mixed tocopherols for freshness, citric acid for freshness, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis34%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis38%17%38%
Calorie Weighted Basis33%35%32%
Protein = 33% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 32%

Ingredient Analysis

The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Although it’s a quality item, raw beef contains up to 73% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

The third ingredient is salmon meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The next ingredient includes sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The fifth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The sixth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The seventh ingredient is potato protein, the dry residue remaining after removing the starchy part of a potato.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

The eighth ingredient is pork fat, a product from rendering pig meat.

Commonly known as lard, pork fat can add significant flavor to any dog food. And it can be high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.

Although it may not sound very appetizing, pork fat (in moderate amounts) is actually an acceptable pet food ingredient.

After the natural flavor, we find whitefish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this Merrick product.

With 7 notable exceptions

First, we find pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

Next, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

In addition, alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

Next, this food contains dried fermentation products. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.

We also note the use of taurine, an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.

Since taurine deficiency appears to be more common in pets consuming grain-free diets, we view its presence in this recipe as a positive addition.

Next, we also note the inclusion of sodium selenite, a controversial form of the mineral selenium. Sodium selenite appears to be nutritionally inferior to the more natural source of selenium found in selenium yeast.

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, Merrick Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 38%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 37%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 36% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 39% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

Which means this Merrick product line contains…

Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea products, potato protein, alfalfa meal and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.

Our Rating of Merrick Grain Free Dog Food

Merrick Grain Free is a dry dog food using a significant amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.



Merrick Dog Food Recall History

The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 related to Merrick Pet Care.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.

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More Merrick Reviews

The following Merrick dog food reviews are also posted on this website:

A Final Word

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Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

References

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials

03/27/2022 Last Update

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