Nutrition - 8/10
Ingredients - 8/10
Merrick Grain Free Large Breed With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato is a high-quality dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is significantly above average and it provides a significantly above average proportion of protein and fat and a below average proportion of carbohydrates. This nutrient profile is very satisfactory the majority of dogs. It has a range of high-quality meat and fish ingredients such as Salmon and Chicken. In addition, it contains a range of legumes and starchy vegetables such as Peas and Sweet Potatoes. These contribute high-quality carbohydrates and dietary fiber. The smaller number of meat and fish ingredients present may mean that this dog food is suitable for dogs with serious dietary allergies or sensitivities. However, for those without dietary issues, this is a very nutritious and high-quality dog food.
High-Quality Meat & Fish Ingredients Satisfactory Level of Omega Fatty Acids No Grains
Contains Pea Protein Excessive Carbohydrate Proportion
A Full review of Grain Free Large Breed With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato by Merrick
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.
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 35% of Merrick Grain Free Large Breed With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato 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 Dry Dog Food.
The carbohydrates present are from a range of legumes and starchy vegetables. Examples include Peas, Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes. Legumes such as Peas are considered high-quality sources of carbohydrates along with Sweet Potatoes. White Potatoes, however, are considered a lesser quality ingredient. This proportion of carbohydrates is below average but still above what we would consider ideal proportion. This would be well suited for the majority of dogs.
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 31% of Merrick Grain Free Large Breed With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato 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 Dry Dog Food.
The protein is sourced from the Chicken and Salmon ingredients present. Meat and fish-based proteins such as Salmon are the preferred source and can provide complete amino acid coverage. Sadly, a notable portion of this protein is from vegetable by-products like Pea Protein. This protein content will be sufficient for dogs of all activity levels including those who are very active. Only the most active of dogs could possibly need more protein than this.
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 34% of Merrick Grain Free Large Breed With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato 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 significantly above average for a Dry Dog Food.
The fat present appears to be from the Salmon and Chicken ingredients. Meat and fish-based fats are the natural sources of fat in a dog’s diet. This level of fat is sufficient to satisfy the energy needs of the vast majority of dogs. In addition, the fish ingredients contribute a very high level of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are known to provide a range of health benefits.
Overall Merrick Grain Free Large Breed With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato contains an average of 3,656 kcal per kilogram or 390 kcal per cup
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 Large Breed With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato
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) – 31.00%
- Crude Fat (Min) – 15.00%
- Crude Fiber (Max) – 3.50%
- Moisture (Max) – 11.00%
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 3.0%
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 0.8%
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.
- Chicken Meal
- Sweet Potatoes
- Salmon Meal
- Pea Protein
Dangerous / Harmful Ingredients
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 Large Breed With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato 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 first listed 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
Peas are a member 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 important for healthy digestion. Pet foods often use legumes as a replacement for 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.
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.
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.
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.
Flaxseed is a beneficial ingredient that is commonplace in higher quality dog food. Flaxseed contains high levels of the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids which provide a range of health benefits such as healthier skin and fur and improved cognitive function. Also, Flaxseed contains high levels of protein for a plant-based ingredient. Finally, Flaxseed provides Lignans which can help reduce inflammation and cholesterol.
Sunflower Oil is one of a number of oils commonly added to pet food. Sunflower Oil contains high amounts of Omega 6 Fatty Acids. However, it does not provide any of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are often considered the more beneficial of the two. For that reason, Sunflower Oil is considered by many to be a less desirable addition than other oils such as Salmon and Canola Oil.
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 Large Breed With Real Chicken + Sweet Potato
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Salmon Meal, Dried Egg Product, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Sunflower Oil, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Choline Chloride, Apples, Blueberries, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Gelatin, L-Carnitine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.