Nutrition - 10/10
Ingredients - 9/10
Merrick Real Venison + Chickpeas 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 Venison, Turkey, and Lamb. It contains Chickpeas and Peas which are considered high-quality sources of carbohydrates. In addition, they provide fiber for healthy digestion. Merrick Real Venison + Chickpeas contains a range of vegetables and four different sources of meat or fish. For this reason, it is unlikely to be suitable for dogs that suffer from allergies or sensitivities.
Very Satisfactory Nutrition High-Quality Meat and Vegetable Ingredients No Grains
Low Level of Omega Fatty Acids Contains Pea Protein
A Full review of Grain Free Real Venison + Chickpeas 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 28% of Merrick Real Venison + Chickpeas 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 such as Peas and Chickpeas. 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 36% of Merrick Real Venison + Chickpeas 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 red meat and poultry ingredients which are all considered high-quality sources. A small proportion of this protein is from the vegetable ingredients such as Chickpeas. 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 36% of Merrick Real Venison + Chickpeas 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 red meat 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 Venison + Chickpeas contains on average 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 Real Venison + Chickpeas
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) – 36.00%
- Crude Fat (Min) – 16.00%
- Crude Fiber (Max) – 3.50%
- Moisture (Max) – 11.00%
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 3.0%
- 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.
- Turkey Meal
- Lamb Meal
- Pork 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 Real Venison + Chickpeas contains four sources of meat and fish.
The primary meat source present is Venison. Venison is considered a high-quality source of protein. Venison has lower levels of saturated fat than other red meats. It also contains a similar range of vitamins and minerals such as Iron and Vitamin B6. Unfortunately, Venison does contain a high concentration of water. Much of this water is evaporated during the cooking process leaving a lesser proportion of Venison. However given that Venison is the first listed ingredient, its proportion will still be relatively high even after the cooking process.
The secondary 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 meat source present is Lamb Meal. Lamb 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. Lamb Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Lamb but in higher concentrations. This includes Vitamin B12 and high levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Another meat source present is Pork Meal. Pork 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. Pork Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Pork but in higher concentrations. This includes Thiamin and significant levels of the Iron.
In-Depth None-Meat Ingredient Review
Chickpeas and 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.
Tapioca is a starchy vegetable and a source of complex carbohydrates. Tapioca, which is also known as Cassava Root, is a staple of South America and is rarely seen in the western world. This means it is often used as a novel ingredient for dogs with allergies or sensitivities to other ingredients such as Peas and Potatoes. Tapioca does not contribute substantial nutrition beyond its carbohydrate content but does contain the some B Vitamins such as Folate and the Vitamin B6.
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.
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 Real Venison + Chickpeas
Deboned Venison, Turkey Meal, Lamb Meal, Pork Meal, Chickpeas, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Peas, Tapioca, Pea Protein, Deboned Pork, Salmon Oil (source of Omega-3 fatty acids), Apples, Blueberries, Organic Alfalfa, 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, Rosemary Extract.
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