Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Dog Food Review (Dry)

Rating:

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused product line includes the 9 dry dog foods listed below.

Each recipe includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Use the links to compare price and package size information at an online retailer.

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 38% | Fat = 18% | Carbs = 36%

Ingredients: Deboned salmon, salmon meal, whitefish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, natural flavor, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potato protein, pea protein, whitefish, trout, apples, blueberries, gelatin, organic alfalfa, salmon oil, salt, minerals (zinc sulfate, iron amino acid complex, zinc amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt amino acid complex, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A acetate, vitamin B12 supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3 supplement, niacin, riboflavin supplement, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, thiamine mononitrate), choline chloride, Yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis34%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis38%18%36%
Calorie Weighted Basis33%37%30%
Protein = 33% | Fat = 37% | Carbs = 30%

The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon contains about 80% 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 next two ingredients include salmon meal and whitefish meal. Because they are considered meat concentrates, fish meals contain almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

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

The fourth ingredient is 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 next ingredient lists 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.

After the natural flavor, we find canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

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.

The ninth 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.

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 actual meat content of this dog food.

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 6 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, gelatin is a colorless, flavorless, translucent, brittle substance that’s irreversibly derived from the collagen found in the skin and bones of animals.

Although it consists mostly of protein (98-99% non-essential amino acids), gelatin is of only limited nutritional value to a dog.

In addition, this food includes alfalfa, a flowering member of the pea family. Although alfalfa is high in protein (18%) and fiber, it’s uncommon to see it used in dog food. This hay-family ingredient is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

Next, salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.

We also note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.

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.

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused
Dog Food Review

Based on its ingredient panel, Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused looks like an above-average dry dog food.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 38%, a fat level of 18% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 41% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 32% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.

Which means this Merrick product line contains…

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.

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

Bottom line?

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused is a grain-free 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 list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Merrick. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

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.

Notes and Updates

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials

11/23/2019 Last Update