Merrick Backcountry Grain Free 96% Dog Food Review (Canned)

Rating:

Merrick Backcountry Grain Free 96% Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Merrick Backcountry Grain Free 96% product line includes 2 canned dog foods.

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

Use links below to compare price and package sizes at an online retailer.

Merrick Backcountry Grain Free 96% Real Beef was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Merrick Backcountry Grain Free 96% Real Beef

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 46% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 31%

Ingredients: Deboned beef, beef broth, beef liver, dried egg product, dried yeast culture, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, sodium phosphate, agar-agar, flaxseed, salt, guar gum, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, niacin, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, thiamine mononitrate), choline chloride, minerals (zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt glucoheptonate, sodium selenite), locust bean gum, xanthan gum

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 13.6%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis10%4%NA
Dry Matter Basis46%16%31%
Calorie Weighted Basis40%34%27%
Protein = 40% | Fat = 34% | Carbs = 27%

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 is beef broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.

The third ingredient is beef liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fourth 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.

The fifth ingredient is dried yeast, which can be a controversial item. Dried yeast contains about 45% protein and is rich in other healthy nutrients.

Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.

Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.

What’s more, a vocal minority insist yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is something we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.

In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, we feel yeast should be considered a nutritious addition.

The sixth ingredient is calcium carbonate, likely used here as a dietary mineral supplement.

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 three notable exceptions

First, we find agar agar, a natural vegetable gelatin derived from the cell walls of certain species of red algae. Agar is rich in fiber and is used in wet pet foods as a gelling agent.

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.

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 Grain Free 96%
Dog Food Review

Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick Backcountry Grain Free 96% looks like an above-average wet dog food.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 46%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 31%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 43% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 30% for the overall product line.

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

Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and yeast, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Merrick Backcountry Grain Free 96% is a canned dog food using a significant amount of named meats as its main 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 this Merrick product line. 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

08/18/2019 Last Update