Nutrition - 10/10
Ingredients - 10/10
Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato is a high-quality dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is significantly above average and it provides significantly above average proportions of protein and fat. While we consider the carbohydrate proportion to be a little higher than ideal, this nutrition profile is perfect for the majority of dogs. It contains high-quality meat-based ingredients such as Chicken, Turkey, and Salmon. It contains Peas and Sweet Potatoes which are considered high-quality sources of carbohydrates. In addition, they provide fiber for healthy digestion. Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato contains a range of vegetables and three different sources of meat or fish. For this reason, it is unlikely to be suitable for dogs that suffer from allergies or sensitivities.
Full review of Grain Free 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 25% of Merrick 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 significantly below average for a Dry Dog Food.
The vast majority of this carbohydrate content appears to be sourced from a mix of vegetable and starch ingredients such as Peas and Sweet Potatoes. These ingredients will be discussed in depth later on. This is slightly above what we would consider the ideal proportion of carbohydrates. That being said, they are from a reasonably high-quality source and this percentage is an overestimate.
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 37% of Merrick 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.
This will be a more than sufficient proportion of protein for the majority of dogs including those who are extremely active. This protein appears to be sourced from poultry and fish ingredients such as Chicken, Turkey and Salmon. All of these ingredients are considered high-quality sources. A small proportion of this protein is from the vegetable ingredients such as Peas. Plant-based proteins are considered inferior to meat-based proteins. However, this proportion is very small and likely negligible.
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 38% of Merrick 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 in this dog food appears to be sourced from a range of poultry and fish ingredients which are all fantastic high-quality sources. Animal and fish fat such as this is a dog’s natural source of fat. This low estimate of fat content is more than sufficient to fulfill the energy needs of even the most active dogs.
Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato contains on average 3,740 kcal per kilogram or 460 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 – 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) – 38.00%
- Crude Fat (Min) – 17.00%
- Crude Fiber (Max) – 3.50%
- Moisture (Max) – 11.00%
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 4.8%
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 0.4%
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
- Turkey Meal
- Sweet Potatoes
- Salmon 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 Real Chicken + Sweet Potato contains four sources of meat and 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 still be relatively high even after the cooking process.
Another 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 meat source present is Turkey Meal. Turkey 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. Turkey 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.
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.
Peas 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 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.
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.
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 – Real Chicken + Sweet Potato
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Salmon Meal (source of Omega 3 fatty acids), Flaxseed Oil, 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.
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