Merrick Lil’ Plates Dog Food Review (Dry)

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Dog Food Review

Review of Merrick Lil’ Plates Dry Dog Food

Rating:

Merrick Lil’ Plates Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free product line includes the 9 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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Product Rating AAFCO
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Puppy 5 G
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Senior 4.5 M
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Salmon + Sweet Potato 5 A
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Chicken + Sweet Potato 5 A
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Texas Beef + Sweet Potato 5 A
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Lamb + Sweet Potato 4.5 A
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Chicken, Sweet Potato + Peas with Raw Bites 5 A
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Texas Beef, Sweet Potato + Peas with Raw Bites 5 A
Merrick Lil’ Plates Lamb + Brown Rice with Ancient Grains 5 M

Recipe and Label Analysis

Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free 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 Lil' Plates Grain Free Texas Beef + Sweet Potato

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 43% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 32%

Ingredients: Deboned beef, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes, natural flavor, potato protein, salmon meal, pork fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea protein, salmon, inulin (from chicory root), flaxseed oil, apples, blueberries, organic alfalfa, gelatin, salmon oil (source of omega-3 fatty acids), 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 Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, 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 Analysis38%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis43%17%32%
Calorie Weighted Basis37%35%28%
Protein = 37% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 28%

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 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 includes 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 seventh 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 eighth 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.

The next ingredient is 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.

This item can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that will be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The tenth ingredient is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon 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.

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 4 notable exceptions

First, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

Next, we find 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 a dog food. This hay-family ingredient is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

In addition, 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 ingredients alone, Merrick Lil’ Plates Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 43%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 32%.

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 45%.

Which means this Merrick product line contains…

Above-average protein. Near-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 Lil’ Plates Dog Food

Merrick Lil’ Plates offers both grain-inclusive and grain-free dry dog foods that use a significant amount of named meat meals as their dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Has Merrick Dog Food Been Recalled?

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

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:

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.

References

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials

11/21/2020 Last Update