Merrick canned dog food earns the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Merrick product line includes 23 canned dog foods, all claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Merrick Grain Free Wingaling All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Turducken All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Puppy Plate All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Brauts-N-Tots All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Senior Medley All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Honolulu Luau All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Wild Buffalo Grill All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Camper’s Delight All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Cowboy Cookout All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Wilderness Blend All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Ballpark Bonanza All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Grammy’s Pot Pie All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Working Dog Stew All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Smothered Comfort All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free French Country Cafe All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Venison Holiday Stew All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Turducken Toy and Small Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Mediterranean Banquet All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Red, White and Blueberry All Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Cowboy Cookout Toy and Small Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Grammy’s Pot Pie Toy and Small Breeds
- Merrick Grain Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner Toy and Small Breeds
Merrick Grain Free Cowboy Cookout was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Merrick Grain Free Cowboy Cookout
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned beef, beef broth, sweet potato, carrots, green beans, apples, peas, dried egg product, natural pork flavor, potato starch modified, blueberries, canola oil, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, salt, sodium phosphate, vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, niacin, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, thiamine mononitrate), carrageenan, cassia gum, olive oil, flax oil, minerals (zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt glucoheptonate, sodium selenite), natural caramel color, Yucca schidigera extract, lecithin
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||47%||16%||29%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||41%||34%||25%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1
Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient lists beef broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.
The third ingredient includes sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.
The fourth ingredient is carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
Green beans and apples are natural sources of vitamins and minerals.
The seventh ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The eighth ingredient is dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.
In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
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 product.
With five notable exceptions…
First, we find canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.
Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its raw material source.
Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.2
In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.
Next, flaxseed oil is one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids — essential to a dog’s health.
Thirdly, caramel is a coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.
Even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.
That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?
Next, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there does appear to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.
And lastly, this food also 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.
Merrick Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick appears to be an above average canned dog food.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 46% and a mean fat level of 22%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 24% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a significant amount of meat.
Merrick Dog Food is a meat-based canned product using a significant amount of named meats from various species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
02/05/2010 Original review
09/12/2010 Review updated
06/14/2012 Last Update