Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dog Food Review (Cups)

Rating:

Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free dog food cups receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Merrick Lil’ Plates product line includes 10 wet 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.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

Use the links below to check prices and package sizes at an online retailer.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Itsy Bitsy Beef Stew was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Merrick Lil' Plates Itsy Bitsy Beef Stew

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 44% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 31%

Ingredients: Beef, beef broth, venison broth, beef liver, dried egg whites, potato starch, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, apples, peas, guar gum, tricalcium phosphate, sunflower oil, sodium phosphate, salt, natural flavor, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, minerals (zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, cobalt amino acid chelate, potassium iodide), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), choline chloride, xanthan gum

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.8%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis8%3%NA
Dry Matter Basis44%17%31%
Calorie Weighted Basis38%35%27%
Protein = 38% | Fat = 35% | 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 next two ingredients are beef broth and venison 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 fourth ingredient is beef liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fifth ingredient includes dried egg whites. Eggs are highly digestible and an excellent source of usable protein.

The sixth ingredient is potato starch. Potato starch is a gluten-free carbohydrate used more for its thickening properties than its nutritional value.

The seventh 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 eighth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The ninth ingredient lists green beans, a healthy vegetable notable for its vitamin, mineral and natural fiber content.

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 two notable exceptions

First, we find sunflower oil. 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.

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 Lil’ Plates Grain Free Cups
Dog Food Review

Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free dog food looks like an above-average wet product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 44%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 31%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 45% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 28% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 41%.

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

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Merrick Lil’ Plates is a grain-free wet dog food using a significant amount of named meats as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

Merrick Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

Related Topics

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A Final Word

The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned and is not affiliated (in any way) with pet food manufacturers. We do not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

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For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

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

04/20/2019 Last Update