Quick Review
  • Nutrition - 8/10
    8/10
  • Ingredients - 7/10
    7/10

Review Summary

Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe is a high-quality dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is significantly above average. In particular, its protein content is significantly above average in comparison to other senior dry dog foods. It contains a range of high-quality ingredients with a focus on poultry and fish such as Chicken and Salmon. A range of Starches, fruit, and legumes are present and they provide high-quality sources of carbohydrates. In addition to this, they provide fiber for healthy digestion. Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe range of ingredients may make it unsuitable for those with dietary sensitivities and allergies. Nevertheless, this is suitable for the majority of senior dogs.

Overall
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Pros

Very Satisfactory Protein Proportion High-Quality Meat & Fish Ingredients No Grains

Cons

Contains Pea Protein & Potato Protein Unimpressive Level of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

A Full review of Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe By Merrick

Merrick Grain Free Senior With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato

Nutritional Analysis

The ideal nutrition for a dog is entirely dependant on their unique circumstances. However, a high proportion of protein and fat combined with a lower proportion of carbohydrates is most appropriate nutrition profile for the vast majority of dogs. Dog’s are very capable of consuming a high proportion of carbohydrates, but a diet high in protein and fat is more appropriate and a better reflection of their natural ancestral diet.

Merrick Grain Free Senior With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Calorie Breakdown Chart

Carbohydrate Content Analysis

Dogs use carbohydrates as a simple energy source. Dogs do not require significant carbohydrates in their diet and they are commonly added to reduce cost and increase shelf life. As the chart above displays, a maximum of 39% of Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe calories are derived from carbohydrates.  Please note that this is the maximum amount of carbohydrates as calculated by the guaranteed analysis. In reality, this value of carbohydrates is likely to be a lot lower. This is below average for a Senior Dog Food.

Sweet Potatoes, Peas, and White Potatoes among others are the core of the carbohydrate content of Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe. While the number of sources might be overwhelming the majority of these are considered high-quality carbohydrate sources. This is a satisfactory level of carbohydrates for a senior dog and while it could be lower, it is not very excessive.

Protein Content Analysis

Dogs use Protein for growth, development, and maintenance. Excess protein can be burned as calories. As the chart above displays, a minimum of 33% of Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe calories are derived from protein. Please note that this is the minimum amount of protein as calculated by the guaranteed analysis. In reality, this value of protein is likely to be higher. This is significantly above average for a Senior Dog Food.

While not quite as high as some Merrick dog food recipes, this level of protein is high and satisfactory. This means that Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe is suitable for dogs of all activity levels. Contrary to popular belief, senior dogs do not need a reduced protein diet and they may, in fact, need additional protein than younger dogs. Therefore this very high level of protein is very well suited for senior dogs. The protein content is sourced from a mix of poultry and fish. The Chicken, Salmon, and other ingredients are all high-quality protein sources.

Fat Content Analysis

Dogs use fat as a concentrated energy source. In addition, fats also play a role in development and maintenance. As the chart above displays, a minimum of 28% of Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe calories are derived from Fat. Please note that this is the minimum amount of fat as calculated by the guaranteed analysis. In reality, this value of fat is likely to be a lot higher. This is average for a Senior Dog Food.

It will come as no surprise that animal and fish fats constitute the majority of Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe fat content. Animals fats such as Chicken and Turkey are the ideal energy source for senior dogs. You would imagine that the fish ingredients come with the added bonus of providing additional Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which are known for a range of health benefits. However, the level is surprisingly low.

Calorie Density

Calorie Density is essential to understand as it determines the portion size of food your dog will require per day or meal. Calorie Density is commonly measured in calories per kg or per cup.
Dog food formulas with high-calorie densities can be more cost efficient to purchase while recipes with lower calorie density can be advantageous to dogs attempting weight loss or who are relatively inactive.

Overall Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe contains an average of 3490 kcal/kg or 349 kcal/cup

Disclaimer

Once again please note that the values in this section are calculated using the products guaranteed analysis. The guaranteed analysis only lists the minimum and maximum values and as a consequence, these can sometimes be an inaccurate representation. As a rule of thumb, most dog foods will contain slightly more protein and considerably more fat than their guaranteed analysis. This will have the knock-on effect of reducing the relative amount of carbohydrates present. However also note that every dog food is different and some will be considerably closer to the guaranteed analysis than others.

Guaranteed Analysis – Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe

Pet foods in the United States are legally required by the AAFCO to have a guaranteed analysis on their packaging. A guaranteed analysis must display certain nutritional information. This is similar to how nutritional values are now commonly displayed on food for human consumption. The information that must be displayed includes Crude Protein, Crude Fat, Crude Fiber, and Moisture. Some guaranteed analysis will contain additional information. The guaranteed analysis for this product is listed below.

  • Crude Protein (Min) – 32.00%
  • Crude Fat (Min) – 12.00%
  • Crude Fiber (Max) – 3.50%
  • Moisture (Max) – 11.00%
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 3.00%
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 0.30%

Ingredient Analysis

The ingredients of pet food are disclosed on the packaging of the product as a list in descending order. Therefore the ingredients at the start of the list make up the bulk of the pet foods content. As a consequence, the quality of these primary ingredients is the most significant factor in determining the quality of pet food.

However, ingredients listed further down the ingredient list should not be ignored, especially if they could have adverse or harmful effects on a pet.

High-Quality Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Sweet Potato
  • Peas
  • Salmon Meal

Low-Quality Ingredients 

  • Pea Protein
  • Potato Protein

Dangerous / Harmful Ingredients

  • N/A

In-Depth Meat/Fish Ingredient Review

The meat and fish ingredients of dog food are without a doubt the most important. They are critical as they provide the majority of the protein and fat that dogs desperately need. Also, these ingredients would have made up the bulk of dogs ancestors diet. Therefore, the quality of a dog food formulas meat and fish ingredients is crucial. Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe contains three sources of meat or fish.

The primary meat source present is Chicken. Chicken is considered a high-quality source of protein. In addition to being a fantastic protein source, chicken has high levels of Niacin and Vitamin B6. Unfortunately Chicken does contain a high concentration of water. Much of this water is evaporated during the cooking process leaving a lesser proportion of Chicken. However given that Chicken is the primary ingredient, its proportion will be relatively high after the cooking process.

The secondary meat source present is Chicken Meal. Chicken Meal is considered a high-quality source of protein. Meat Meal is a concentrated form of meat that has already had the majority of its moisture removed. This means that gram for gram it is much richer in protein and other nutrients. Chicken Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Chicken but in higher concentrations. This includes the high levels of Niacin and Vitamin B6.

Another fish source present is Salmon Meal. Salmon Meal is considered a high-quality source of protein. Fish Meal is a concentrated form of fish that has already had the majority of its moisture removed. This means that gram for gram it is much richer in protein and other nutrients. Salmon Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Whitefish but in higher concentrations. This includes Vitamin B12 and Selenium.

In-Depth None-Meat Ingredient Review

Sweet Potatoes are a starchy vegetable and a source of complex carbohydrates.  Sweet Potatoes are considered superior to traditional Potatoes as they contain more fiber and a more extensive range of vitamins and minerals. Some examples of vitamins and minerals that are abundant in Sweet Potatoes are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Calcium. The higher amount of fiber and the range of micronutrients in Sweet Potatoes mean that they are considered a high-quality ingredient despite containing mostly carbohydrates.

Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe contains Peas. These are members of the legume family of vegetables. Legumes are famous for having a relatively high amount of protein for a vegetable. Legumes also contain a high amount of fiber, which is essential for healthy digestion. Pet foods often use legumes as a replacement for grains in grain-free pet food. Protein from vegetables such as legumes should not be a replacement for protein from meat. Instead, it should act as an additional protein source.

Potatoes are a starchy vegetable and a dense source of complex carbohydrates. Also, Potatoes can provide fiber and a surprising number of minerals and vitamins such as Potassium, Copper and the Vitamin B6. Sadly, Potatoes are considered an average-quality ingredient as they provide minimal nutritional value beyond their carbohydrate content.

Pea Protein is a by-product of Peas. Pea Protein is considered a low-quality ingredient. It is often used as a cheap way to increase the overall level of protein in a dog food without including additional meat or fish content. While the protein in Pea Protein is not harmful, plant-based proteins such as this are considered inferior to meat and fish-based proteins as they do not contain the full range of needed amino acids. Pea Protein is one of the most common ingredients used in a technique called Ingredient Splitting.

Potato Protein is a by-product of Potatoes and is a protein-rich liquid. It is considered a low-quality ingredient due to its use as a cheap protein inflating ingredient. In addition, protein from plants such as Potatoes is considered less complete and doesn’t contain all the needed amino acids. Potato Protein is a common ingredient used in a technique known as Ingredient Splitting.

Salmon Oil is a reliable source of the Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids. In fact, Salmon Oil is particularly high in the Omega 3 Fatty Acid which is considered to be the more beneficial of the two. The Omega Fatty Acids are essential for an extensive range of reasons. They can help maintain a dogs skin and coat, they can reduce inflammation and they can help fight heart disease. The full list of potential benefits of the Omega Fatty Acids is far too numerous to list.

Alfalfa is a flowering plant that is closely related to Peas and other legumes. Alfalfa has a long history of use in livestock feed and as a supplement for humans. It has a similar proportion of protein to other legumes which means it can contribute to a minor sum if there is a sufficient quantity used. Alfalfa’s greatest strength is the vast range of vitamins and minerals it provides including Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Potassium, and Calcium. Find out more about Alfalfa in our article Alfalfa In Dog Food.

Full Ingredient List – Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Salmon Meal, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Potato Protein, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Apples, Blueberries, Gelatin, Salt, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate), Choline Chloride, L-Carnitine, 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), Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.