Nutrition - 6/10
Ingredients - 8/10
Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon and Sweet Potato is a high-quality limited ingredient dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is above average and it provides an above average proportion of protein, an above average proportion of fat and an average proportion of carbohydrates. It contains a small number of high-quality ingredients and limits its fish-based content to Salmon. It also contains Peas and Sweet Potatoes which 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 – Salmon and Sweet Potato a satisfactory dry dog food for an active dog with significant dietary sensitivities.
Full review of Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon and 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 44% of Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon and 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 average for a Dry Dog Food.
The only two sources of carbohydrates present are Sweet Potatoes and Peas. However, there seems to a considerable quantity of both of these given the high percentage of carbohydrates. Peas and Sweet Potatoes 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 – Salmon and Sweet Potato is too high 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 26% of Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon and 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 above average for a Dry Dog Food.
The protein is sourced from the Salmon and Peas present. Fish-based proteins such as Salmon are the preferred source and can provide complete amino acid coverage. However, given this food contains a high quantity of Peas 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 average activity levels but not those who are considered very active. There could certainly be more protein, especially additional animal protein, in Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon and Sweet Potato 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 30% of Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon and 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 above average for a Dry Dog Food.
The fat present appears to be from the Salmon ingredients present. Salmon is a natural source of fat in a dog’s diet. This proportion of fat will be adequate as an energy source for the average dog but not those who are more active.
Overall Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon and Sweet Potato contains an average of 4,100 kcal/kg or 466 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 – Salmon and 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) – 25.00%
- Crude Fat (Min) – 13.00%
- Crude Fiber (Max) – 3.50%
- Moisture (Max) – 11.00%
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 2.5%
- 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.
- Salmon Meal
- Sweet Potatoes
- 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 – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon and Sweet Potato contains two sources of Salmon.
The primary fish source present is Salmon. Salmon is considered a high-quality source of protein. Salmons most abundant minerals are Vitamin B12 and Selenium. Just like other fish, Salmon contains a large quantity of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Unfortunately just as with meat, Salmon contains a high concentration of water. Much of this water is evaporated during the cooking process leaving a lesser proportion of Salmon. However given that Salmon is the first listed ingredient, its quantity after cooking is likely to be relatively high.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon and Sweet Potato
Deboned Salmon, Salmon 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.
Other Merrick – Limited Ingredient Diet Reviews
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Limited Ingredient Diet – Turkey and Sweet Potato