Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Dog Food Review (Dry)

Merrick Backcountry Grain-Free Pacific Catch Dog Food

Review of Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Rating:

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

The Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain Free product line includes the 7 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.

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Product Rating AAFCO
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Big Game 4.5 M
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird 5 M
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Large Breed 5 M
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch 5 M
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Hero’s Banquet 5 M
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red 5 M
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Puppy 5 G

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red Recipe

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 43% | Fat = 19% | Carbs = 30%

Ingredients: Deboned beef, lamb meal, salmon meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, natural flavor, potato protein, pork fat, pork meal, pea protein, lamb, rabbit, beef liver, sunflower oil, salt, organic dehydrated alfalfa meal, apples, blueberries, potassium chloride, 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 acetate, 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
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis38%17%NA
Dry Matter Basis43%19%30%
Calorie Weighted Basis36%39%25%
Protein = 36% | Fat = 39% | Carbs = 25%

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, another protein-rich 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 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, which 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 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.

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.

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

In addition, we 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, 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.

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 ingredient panel, Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain Free looks like an above-average dry dog food.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 43%, a fat level of 19% and estimated carbohydrates of about 30%.

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 33% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.

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.

Our Rating of Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused
Grain Free Dog Food

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.



Has Merrick Backcountry Dog Food Been Recalled?

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

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

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Important FDA Alert

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References

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials

05/23/2021 Last Update