Merrick Dog Food Review
Merrick Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Merrick Grain Free product line includes the 14 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
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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
Ingredients: Deboned beef, lamb meal, salmon meal, peas, sweet potatoes, potatoes, potato protein, pea protein, pork fat, natural flavor, beef liver, beef stock, sunflower oil, salt, flaxseed, organic dehydrated alfalfa meal, potassium chloride, apples, blueberries, choline chloride, 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, mixed tocopherols for freshness, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, niacin, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride), 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|
|Dry Matter Basis||43%||17%||32%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||37%||35%||28%|
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 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 fifth ingredient is 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 next item 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 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 pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable. This item contains over 80% protein.
And less costly plant-based products like these 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.
The ninth 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 beef liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
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 6 notable exceptions…
First, sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.
Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.
There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.
Next, this recipe contains flaxseed, 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, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. 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.
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.
Based on its ingredients alone, Merrick Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 38% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 37% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.
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.
Is Merrick a Good 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.
More Top Picks
Has Merrick Dog Food Been Recalled?
The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 related to Merrick Pet Care.
- Merrick Recalls Multiple Dog Treats (5/23/2018)
- Merrick Recalls Dog Treats (8/9/2011)
- Merrick Pet Treats Recall 2011 (1/30/2011)
- Merrick Expands Dog Treats Recall (8/16/2010)
- Merrick Expands Recall of Dog Treats (8/4/2010)
- Merrick Dog Treats Recall (7/6/2010)
- Merrick Dog Treats Recall 2010 (1/15/2010)
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:
- Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Merrick Classic Chunky Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Merrick Classic Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Merrick Dog Food Review
- Merrick Grain Free Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Merrick Lil’ Plates Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dog Food Review (Cups)
- Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Dog food Review (Dry)
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.
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
09/26/2020 Last Update