Nutrition - 8/10
Ingredients - 9/10
Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken is a high-quality limited ingredient dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is above average and it provides a significantly above average proportion of protein, a significantly above average proportion of fat and a below average proportion of carbohydrates. It contains a small number of high-quality ingredients and limits its meat-based content to Chicken. It also contains Peas and Chickpeas which are legumes and are considered high-quality sources of carbohydrates. In addition to their carbohydrate content, they provide fiber for healthy digestion. Its very restrictive and limited ingredient list combined with its nutritional values, make Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken a satisfactory dry dog food for an active dog with significant dietary sensitivities.
Full review of Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken 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 34% of Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken 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 only two sources of carbohydrates present are Chickpeas and Peas. Peas and Chickpeas are considered relatively good sources of carbohydrates and they will be discussed in more detail later on. Despite being below average, this proportion of carbohydrates in Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken is somewhat above ideal and should be lower to better mimic a dog’s natural diet.
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 30% of Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken 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 Legumes present. Meat-based proteins such as Chicken are the preferred source and can provide complete amino acid coverage. However, given this food contains a high quantity of Legumes it is likely a noticeable percentage of this protein content is plant-based, which is not ideal. This protein content will be sufficient for dogs of above-average activity levels but perhaps not those who are considered very active. There could certainly be more protein, especially additional animal protein, in Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken to better mimic a dog’s natural diet.
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 36% of Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken 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 Chicken ingredients present. Chicken is a natural source of fat in a dog’s diet. This proportion of fat will be adequate for the majority of dogs including those who are active.
Overall Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken contains an average of 3,670 kcal/kg or 367 kcal/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 – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken
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) – 30.00%
- Crude Fat (Min) – 16.00%
- Crude Fiber (Max) – 3.50%
- Moisture (Max) – 11.00%
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 3.5%
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 0.3%
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
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 – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken contains two sources of Chicken.
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 still be relatively high even 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.
In-Depth None-Meat Ingredient Review
Peas and Chickpeas 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 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. As far as carbohydrate sources go, Peas are considered one of the better sources.
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.
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 – Limited Ingredient Diet – Chicken
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Organic Alfalfa, Flaxseed Oil (source of Omega-3 fatty acids), Salt, Choline Chloride, 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), Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.
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