Merrick pet food

Grain Free - Dog | Merrick Pet Care

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

The Merrick Grain Free product line includes 11 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 Grain Free Puppy Recipe (4 stars) [A]
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Rabbit and Chickpeas [M]
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Venison and Chickpeas [M]
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Lamb and Sweet Potato [A]
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Duck and Sweet Potato [A]
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Turkey and Sweet Potato [M]
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Buffalo and Sweet Potato [A]
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Salmon and Sweet Potato [A]
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken and Sweet Potato [A]
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato [A]
  • Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe (4.5 stars) [M]

Merrick Grain Free Real Duck and Sweet Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Merrick Grain Free Real Duck and Sweet Potato

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

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

Ingredients: Deboned duck, turkey meal, salmon meal (source of omega 3 fatty acids), sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes, deboned chicken, natural flavor, lamb meal, potato protein, duck fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), apples, blueberries, organic alfalfa, salmon oil, salt, minerals (zinc amino acid complex, zinc sulfate, iron 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 supplement, 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
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 38% 17% NA
Dry Matter Basis 43% 19% 30%
Calorie Weighted Basis 36% 39% 25%

Protein = 36% | Fat = 39% | Carbs = 25%

The first ingredient in this dog food is duck. Although it is a quality item, raw duck 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 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.

The fourth 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 fifth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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.e

After the natural flavor, we find lamb meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

The ninth ingredient is potato protein, the dry residue remaining after removing the starchy part of a potato.

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.

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 four notable exceptions…

First, this recipe contains 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.

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.

In addition, 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 Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry 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 43%, a fat level of 19% and estimated carbohydrates of about 30%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 43%.

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, potato protein and alfalfa in this recipe, and the pea protein contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Merrick Grain Free is mostly a meat-based dry dog food using a significant amount of named meats as its main sources 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.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

Dog Food Coupons
And Discounts

Readers are invited to check for coupons and discounts shared by others in our Dog Food Coupons Forum.

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