Nutrition - 8/10
Ingredients - 9/10
Merrick Real Salmon + 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 fish-based ingredients Salmon and Whitefish. It contains Peas and Sweet Potatoes which are considered high-quality sources of carbohydrates. In addition, they provide fiber for healthy digestion.
Merrick Real Salmon + Sweet Potato contains a range of vegetables and two different sources of meat or fish. For this reason, it is unlikely to be suitable for dogs that suffer from allergies or sensitivities.
High-Quality Fish & Vegetable Ingredients
No Grains or By-products
Slightly Excessive Carbohydrate Proportion
Underwhelming Level of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Full review of Grain Free Real Salmon + 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 33% of Merrick Real Salmon + 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 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 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 35% of Merrick Real Salmon + 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 but may be inadequate for those who are extremely active. This protein appears to be sourced from fish ingredients which are all 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 32% of Merrick Real Salmon + 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 in this dog food appears to be sourced from a range of 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 Salmon + Sweet Potato contains on average 3,500 kcal per kilogram or 354 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 Salmon + 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) – 34.00%
- Crude Fat (Min) – 14.00%
- Crude Fiber (Max) – 4.50%
- Moisture (Max) – 11.00%
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 3.5%
- 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.
- Salmon Meal
- Sweet Potatoes
- Whitefish 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 Salmon + Sweet Potato contains four sources of meat and fish.
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.
Another fish source present is Whitefish. Whitefish is considered a high or average quality source of protein. Whitefish contains high levels of phosphorus and the Omega Fatty Acids. Unfortunately, just as with meat, Whitefish contains a high concentration of water. Much of this water is evaporated during the cooking process leaving a lesser proportion of Whitefish. However given that Whitefish is not one of the primary ingredients, its proportion will be relatively low after the cooking process.
Another fish source present is Whitefish Meal. Whitefish 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. Whitefish Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Whitefish but in higher concentrations. This includes Phosphorus and other minerals.
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 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.
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.
Canola Oil is derived from a modified version of Rapeseed. Canola Oil is most commonly added to dog food to supplement the levels of the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids. These Fatty Acids are crucial for a dogs skin, coat and brain development. While Canola Oil is not the ideal source of the Omega Fatty Acids, it does have a high ratio of Omega 3 Fatty Acids to Omega 6 Fatty Acids. Sources with high ratios, such as Canola Oil, are considered superior. However, Canola Oil can be a controversial ingredient due to the fact it is genetically modified.
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 Salmon + Sweet Potato
Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Whitefish Meal, Natural Flavor, Canola Oil, Deboned Whitefish, Apples, Blueberries, Yeast Culture, Organic Alfalfa, Flaxseed Oil, Potassium Chloride, 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.