Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet product line includes five dry 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.

  • Merrick LID Grain Free Duck and Sweet Potato [M]
  • Merrick LID Grain Free Turkey and Sweet Potato [M]
  • Merrick LID Grain Free Lamb and Sweet Potato (3.5 stars) [M]
  • Merrick LID Grain Free Salmon and Sweet Potato (3.5 stars) [M]

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Turkey and Sweet Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Turkey and Sweet Potato

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 47%

Ingredients: Deboned turkey, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes, pea protein, sunflower oil, natural flavor, organic alfalfa, 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 items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis26%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%16%47%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%33%41%
Protein = 26% | Fat = 33% | Carbs = 41%

The first ingredient in this dog food is turkey. Although it is a quality item, raw turkey 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 second ingredient is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.

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. 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.

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 sixth 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.

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.

The seventh ingredient is 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.

After the natural flavor, 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.

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 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 Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet looks like an above-average dry dog food.

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 29%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 47%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 53%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, pea protein and alfalfa, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly 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.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

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Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

09/27/2016 Last Update

  • Bebe6

    My one Miniature Schnauzer licks his paws. My vet said it was allergies and to give him Zyrtek. It’s helped a lot. He is also allergic to chicken. I feed him this dog food – lamb and sweet potato. They both are fed this food as well as an Omega 3 supplement made for dogs.
    they both are doing well on this food.

  • anon101

    I use krill oil https://www.endur.com/products/omega-3-phospholipid-500mg-180-soft-gels
    One capsule a day, the same as I take.
    However, check with your vet first, as this product is not intended for veterinary use.

  • sandy

    Oils that contain omega 3 in particular, EPA and DHA (fish, krill, salmon). There are even non-fish sources you can find also like squid and algae. Virgin organic unprocessed coconut oil , flaxseed are some others. Google omega 3, 6 and 9 for dogs.

  • Ryann Lenning

    Is there a specific type of oil I should look for?

  • Ryann Lenning

    Sadly she is allergic to all meat except fish, which I can’t afford to feed her fish every day.I’ll give the oil and yogurt a go though! Thanks!

  • sandy

    You can add fat calories to her diet. Oils are around 120 calories per tablespoon.

  • haleycookie

    If you want to add something don’t add rice too much carbs in one cup and will likely bind her up after feeding to for awhile. It’s also a pretty common allergen. Try some cooked meat whatever protein she can handle. Or some plain Greek yogurt. Also consider just upping how much kibble you feed her and you might try some canned food as a topper as well.

  • Ryann Lenning

    Wanted to leave a review of this food. I’ve been feeding this to my 55 pound lab mix for about a year now. She had a serious food allergy problem and was constantly in the vets office because her allergies would give her skin infections. We tried numerous types of food, from Blue Baffalo, to Wellness. I stumpled upon this food while doing some research and decided to give it a go. My dog has had ZERO skin infections since we started her on this. She’s a much happier dog now. My only concern now is that she can’t put on weight. I understand it isn’t the companies fault because the point of limited ingredient is to have as few fillers as possible. I am considering feeding her a cup of rice with her dog food at night so she can put weight on. She doesn’t look like she’s starved, but she does look underweight.

    Anyways, I would highly recommend this food, I would just be prepared to feed something extra if you have a very hyper and active dog like mine.

  • Diane

    I have the same problem with my one dog and I just found a food called Koha, it is a wet food. Check out their web page. No controversial ingredients and it seems to be helping my dog with allergies. It is a LID also. They have stews too. I have tried both. Mine love the pork stew and turkey stew and the lamb. I am ordering the venison stew also. I hope this helps.

  • Shea

    Well, a year later I have decided to try Merrick Grain Free. I don’t know how many brands I have tried in the last year, but Canidae Pure has been the best so far. If it didn’t have so many calories, she would’ve stayed on it. She has been on Natures Logic for the last 3 months but it has millet in it and I rather go to something grain free again. I liked that Natures Logic didn’t have synthetic vitamins in it though. She is still breaking out with scabs occasionally and licks her paws on it too. Let me know if your dogs are still on Merrick. Looks like a great food for skin and coat.

  • Krista

    I recently bought a bag of this food (it was the chicken formula) and it smelled bad. It smelled like rancid vitamins and minerals. I will not be buying this brand again. This is strange to me because I’ve bought this food before and didn’t notice such an off smell to it. I’m wondering if purina has something to do with it.

  • sometimes overfeeding causes loose stools. A simple adjustment back to less food will give you an idea of whether that is the reason for her issue. Remember, the literature on the bag is designed to sell food and may NOT provide the accurate cup-sized amounts appropriate for any individual dog.

  • Tracey South

    I happened to have a conversation yesterday with employee at Pet Food Express (abt skin allergies and common triggers) She said if they lick the paws that much it’s a protein allergy. * we were talking about how chicken is a very common protein allergen for some dogs. and if the itching /scratching is all over, it’s a different allergy (maybe environmental like pollen ?? ) I can’t tell you the specifics but I can say there are known areas of dogs’ body that can help pinpoint the triggers of what they are itching/licking/ scratching from.

  • Krista

    thanks. I’ve just started feeding the limited ingredient diet by Merrick because my dog has been having loose stools on her former food. she goes poop three times a day and every third stool is consistently loose. I’m hoping the LID diet will do the trick. anyone else have any similar experiences? she’s a female cavalier king charles spaniel.

  • theBCnut

    I believe it is because they are lower in meat protein than the others.

  • Krista

    why do the lamb and salmon have 3.5 stars instead of 4?

  • Shea

    Thanks for the suggestions. She has tried Zignature and didn’t like it at all. And I tried the regular Instinct. She has been on Acana Singles since November and seems to be doing well with it.

  • Steve

    I don’t know if you’re still searching for the right food, but check out Instinct LID and Zignature. Those are 2 of the very few truly LID *and* readily available kibbles we could find when searching for our food-allergy dogs.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Kevin- Food Allergies and/or intolerances can be caused by a variety of reasons.

    On the subject of breeding/inbreeding. I personally have not heard of allergies being caused by inbreeding, but I have heard that food intolerances can be passed genetically and that is common with backyard breeding. Those breeders are not concerned about producing quality litters and are not breeding from quality stock.They do not do genetic testing and do not care if the male and bitch they are breeding have allergy symptoms or anything other medical issue. And they likely won’t tell you they have them. Hence why they sell the pups for so cheap.

    What likely happened is when you changed foods you eliminated a trigger for your dog that was in the previous food. Either way, glad your pup has found some relief with the new food!

  • theBCnut

    I have read that this can be a result of a serious load of worms as a puppy. My dog with this type of allergies is definitely not inbreed, but he did have horrible worms as a young pup, so I guess I tend to believe the idea may have merit.

  • Kevin Jordan

    I have done quite a bit of research on dog foods because I have 4 pups. One of them, a Yorkie, I think was a backyard breeder pup with inbreeding going on. The reason why I think so was because we have had ear problems with her (no she was not getting into water and it getting in her ears). We have also had problems with her licking her paws which I think has something to do with her backyard breeding as well. But, I have found that the food with the least amount of allergens out there (commercial food) is Merrick Salmon and Sweet Potato. When I switched, I have noticed less licking of the paws and less shaking of the head and scratching of the ear. Just my 2 cents worth.

  • Crazy4cats

    Yes, their pork recipe is poultry free:
    http://www.feedgoodness.com/products?categorySort=1&cat1=1&cat2=all
    I can get it at either Petco, our local feed store, or Chewy. I wait to see if any of them are having a special before I buy the next bag. Our feed store was selling them buy 1 get 1/2 off the second bag last month. Petco is always having some type of deal going on. I’ve had good luck ordering from both Petco and Chewy. They are both excellent with returns as well.

    I also feed my dogs Victor kibble as well.

  • Shea

    I was looking at the whole earth farms also. I’m trying to cut out chicken for awhile to see if that’s what is causing the scabs and her paw licking. She was on Fromm for the last 4 months and her stomach issues went away. I was so happy with this food except for her skin issues coming up. All of their recipes contain some form of chicken so I thought I would cut that out. Also she needs lower fat and calories because she has gained 3 pounds. I have tried cutting down on her food and eliminated treats. I take her for walks most days. Thanks for your advice!

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Shea-
    I have not used Merrick’s LID ingredient food, but I have fed their grain free a few times. My dogs did really well on it. I was happy to learn about their new line of Whole Earth Farms grain free recipes due to being much cheaper. They do well on it also. It has been bought by Purina, but I’m sticking with it unless I see any changes that are troublesome.

    I’m not exactly sure what ingredients you are trying to avoid. So, I’m not sure if it will work for your little terrier, who btw, is very cute! Give it a shot if it meets your criteria. Most places will take back food if it doesn’t work out. Good luck!

  • Shea

    I have been researching LID foods for my little terrier that are low in fat and calories. She is a couple of pounds overweight and she licks her paws and has a few scabs on her back. I wanted some advice on this food and want any suggestions for alternatives. It’s hard to find a food to meet the criteria I’m searching for my girl! I know this company has been bought out by Purina but if the food is still good I’m willing to try it for her.