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Merrick Dog Food Reviews

Merrick Pet Care was started as a family-owned company in 1988 in Hereford, Texas. After establishing itself as a natural and organic pet food company, Merrick was sold to Nestle Purina in 2015. Merrick also owns Zuke’s, Whole Earth Farms and Castor & Pollux, its organic pet food line. 

Merrick has 11 lines of dry and canned foods and 100 recipes, all made in-house.  

Merrick has 3 manufacturing facilities including its original plant in Hereford. The Hereford plant was the world’s first organic certified manufacturer of dry and canned pet foods under the USDA National Organic Program. Its other facilities are in Amarillo, Texas and Evanston, Illinois.

The company sources most of its ingredients in the US with some sourced overseas. Their lamb and venison come from New Zealand, duck and rabbit are from France and their vitamin and minerals premix come from Germany and Canada.

IS Merrick A GOOD DOG FOOD?

Merrick has 11 lines of wet and dry dog foods with 100 recipes. The scores reflect that all Merrick dry dog foods are considered high risk, and all the wet dog foods are considered moderate risk.

This is disappointing since Merrick owns and manufactures an organic line of dog food (Castor & Pollux Organix, reviewed separately), but organic ingredients aren’t used in other lines made by this flagship brand of dry and wet dog food. The foods have significant ingredient safety concerns. Without organic sources, this means there are several high pesticide/herbicide ingredients and GMO ingredients like potatoes in most of the 100 recipes. Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers pose a significant health risk to plants, animals and soils. There are limited safety studies on genetically modified and Roundup Ready crops although they are lacking in nutrients compared to non-GMO foods. GMO crops also strip nutrients from soils,  increase  the risk of pesticide or herbicide residues, and may be involved in bee die-off.

The 6 lines of dry dog food also raise ingredient safety concerns. They have excessive carbohydrate content and low levels of protein. Even the grain free foods and limited ingredient foods have starchy carbohydrate ingredients. Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrate, but starch is required for extrusion in dry dog foods. Foods that are high in carbohydrate can raise insulin and cause obesity and changes to the gut bacteria.

Like all dry dog foods, these are ultra processed so they’re heated several times during processing, which causes a significant loss of enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. As a result, excessive vitamins and minerals are added. Five or more added minerals indicate a lower quality food that’s lacking naturally occurring minerals from whole food sources. 

On the positive side, very few recipes contain added amino acids so these nutrients are obtained from the ingredients. All the dry dog foods, with the exception of Merrick’s Limited Ingredient Dry have added probiotics, although they don’t guarantee the amount. Limited Edition has 5 to 8 key ingredients followed by a lengthy list of added nutrients so it’s puzzling why this line wouldn’t include probiotics too. 

The Limited Ingredient dry and wet dog foods also have the highest level of carbohydrates and lowest level of protein among all Merrick lines. 

When it comes to ingredient safety, there are other concerns. Natural flavor made from low quality ingredients is often used. Rice is included in most foods and is a concern because of potential arsenic contamination, which is linked to chronic health issues. Some recipes contain menadione, a synthetic form of vitamin K that is not required in dog food and may be linked to immune system dysfunction, oxidative damage to cells, liver toxicity, and allergic reactions.

Merrick’s wet dog foods have similar ingredient safety and ingredient quality concerns as seen in the dry dog foods. Overall, they have lower carbohydrates than the dry dog foods, but Lil Plates, Grain Free and Limited Ingredient lines are still higher than we’d like to see in a canned food. 

Canned dog foods are less processed than kibble but are still highly processed. Canned dog foods are heated before and during canning, which will cause significant losses in some active enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. Most recipes contain an extensive list of added vitamins and minerals. The Limited Ingredient line also falls short regarding amino acids so some are added.

Merrick doesn’t provide the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in their foods. They are certainly not the only brand omitting this information, but it’s our hope that more brands will pay more attention to these fats since omega-6 fats are inflammatory and AAFCO allows a very high ratio of 30:1.

Full Source Dry

4.3
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Full Source Grain-Free Raw-Coated Kibble with Chicken & Duck Dry Food
4.3
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Full Source Dry has a score of 4.3/10 and is considered a high risk dog food. Six recipes have average protein of 32% and average carbohydrates of 30% as calculated. This line loses ingredient quality points for high carbohydrates and added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed raw ingredients. The line also loses ingredient quality points for using inflammatory seed oil. On the ingredient safety side, these foods are ultra-processed. which lowers safety and nutrient content. Other concerns are high pesticide foods, GMO ingredients, rice that can contain arsenic and natural flavors.  

Merrick Full Source Dry Food Benefits

Merrick Full Source Dry Food Concerns

Grain Free Dry

4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Grain-Free Real Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Grain Free Dry has a score of 4/10 and is considered a high risk dog food. There are 12 recipes with average protein of 32% and average carbohydrates of 30% as calculated. These are grain-free foods but they include high starch ingredients and the high carbohydrates affect the score. These recipes also lose ingredient quality points for added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed ingredients. The line loses ingredient quality points for using plant protein and inflammatory seed oil. On the safety side, these foods are ultra-processed, which lowers safety and nutrient content. Other concerns are due to high pesticide foods, GMO ingredients and natural flavor.  

Merrick Grain Free Dry Benefits

Merrick Grain Free Dry Concerns

Back Country Dry

4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Backcountry - Raw Infused - Great Plains Red Recipe
4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Back Country Dry has a score of 4/10 and is considered a high risk dog food. There are 10 recipes with average protein of 35% and average carbohydrates of 27% as calculated. This line loses ingredient quality points for high carbohydrates and added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed ingredients. The line also loses ingredient quality points for using plant protein and inflammatory seed oil. On the ingredient safety side, these are foods are ultra-processed, which lowers safety and nutrient content. Other concerns are high pesticide foods, GMO ingredients, rice that can contain arsenic and natural flavor.  

Merrick Back Country Dry Food

Merrick Back Country Dry Concerns

Lil Plates Dry

3.4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe
3.4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Lil Plates Dry has a score of 3.4/10 and is considered a high risk dog food. Eight recipes have average protein of 32% and average carbohydrates of 32% as calculated. Some of these recipes are grain-free but contain other starchy carbohydrates. High carbohydrates cost ingredient quality points. There are also added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed ingredients. The line also loses ingredient quality points for using inflammatory seed oil and plant protein. On the ingredient safety side, these foods are ultra-processed, which lowers safety and nutrient content. Other concerns are foods with high pesticide residues, GMO ingredients, natural flavor, and rice that has potential for arsenic contamination and the addition of menadione, a synthetic form of Vitamin K that may be linked to immune system dysfunction, oxidative damage to cells, liver toxicity, and allergic reactions.

Merrick Lil Plates Dry Benefits

Merrick Lil Plates Dry Concerns

Limited Ingredient Dry

2.5
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free - Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe
2.5
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Limited Ingredient Dry has a score of 2.5/10 and is considered a high risk dog food. There are 5 recipes with average protein of 23% and average carbohydrates of 41% as calculated. This line loses ingredient quality points for high carbohydrates and added vitamins, minerals and amino acids that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed ingredients. The line also loses ingredient quality points for using inflammatory seed oil and plant protein. On the ingredient safety side, these foods are ultra processed, which lowers safety and nutrient content. Other concerns are due to high pesticide foods, GMO ingredients, rice that can contain arsenic, natural flavor, and menadione, a synthetic form of vitamin K that may be linked to immune system dysfunction, oxidative damage to cells, liver toxicity, and allergic reactions.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Dry Benefits

Merrick Limited Ingredient Dry Concerns

Healthy Grains Dry

3.4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken + Brown Rice Recipe with Ancient Grains
3.4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Healthy Grains Dry has a score of 3.4/10 and is considered a high risk dog food. There are 13 recipes with average protein of 27% and average carbohydrates of 37% as calculated. This line loses ingredient quality points for high carbohydrates and added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed ingredients. The line also loses ingredient quality points for using inflammatory seed oil and in one recipe fish oil which is an unnamed animal ingredient. On the ingredient safety side, these foods are ultra-processed, which lowers safety and nutrient content. Other concerns are high pesticide foods, rice that can contain arsenic, natural flavor and in some recipes, menadione, a synthetic form of vitamin K that is not required in dog food and may be linked to immune system dysfunction, oxidative damage to cells, liver toxicity, and allergic reactions.

Merrick Healthy Grains Dry Benefits

Merrick Healthy Grains Dry Concerns

Full Source Wet

6.5
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick FULL SOURCE® Grain Free Real Chicken & Duck Stew
6.5
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Full Source Canned has a score of 6.5/10 and is considered a moderate risk dog food. Four recipes have average protein of 47% and average carbohydrates of 14% as calculated on a dry matter basis, which are acceptable levels for a wet dog food. Several foods are a bit higher in carbohydrates so lose ingredient quality points. These also lose points for added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed raw ingredients. On the ingredient safety side, canned foods are highly processed and that lowers safety and nutrient content. Other concerns are ingredients known to carry high pesticide or herbicide residues.  GMO ingredients, rice that can contain arsenic, and natural flavor. 

Merrick Full Source Canned Benefits

Merrick Full Source Canned Concerns

Back Country Wet

6.8
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Backcountry Grain Free - Real Chicken Dinner
6.8
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Back Country Canned has a score of 6.8/10 and is considered a moderate risk dog food and Merrick’s highest scoring wet dog food. There are 8 recipes with average protein of 50% and average carbohydrates of 11% as calculated on a dry matter basis – an acceptable level for a wet dog food.  These foods lose ingredient quality points for added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed ingredients. On the ingredient safety side, canned foods are highly processed and that lowers safety and nutrient content. There are 2 recipes with high pesticide foods and GMO ingredients that cost ingredient safety points. All recipes lose points for containing natural flavor – sometimes in the first 5 ingredients.

Merrick Back Country Canned Benefits

Merrick Back Country Canned Concerns

Lil Plates Wet

6.1
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Petite Pot Pie
6.1
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Lil Plates Wet has a score of 6.1/10 and is considered a moderate risk dog food. There are 8 recipes with average protein of 45%, and average carbohydrates of 20% as calculated on a dry matter basis, which is quite high for a wet dog food. These foods lose ingredient quality points for added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed raw ingredients. The line also loses ingredient quality points for using inflammatory seed oil. On the ingredient safety side, canned foods are moderately processed and that lowers safety as well as nutrient content. Other points are lost for  high pesticide or GMO ingredients and natural flavor. 

Merrick Lil Plates Wet Benefits

Merrick Lil Plates Wet Concerns

Limited Ingredient Canned

5.4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Healthy Grains - Real Chicken Recipe
5.4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Limited Ingredient Canned has a score of 5.4/10 and is considered a moderate risk dog food. There are 4 recipes with average protein of 36% and average carbohydrates of 26% as calculated on a dry matter basis, which is high for a wet dog food. These foods lose ingredient quality points for added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed ingredients. The line also loses ingredient quality points for using inflammatory seed oil and plant protein. On the ingredient safety side, canned foods are highly processed and that lowers safety and nutrient content. Other concerns are high pesticide ingredients, rice that can contain arsenic and natural flavor. 

Merrick Limited Ingredient Canned Benefits

Merrick Limited Ingredient Canned Concerns

Grain Free Wet

5.6
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Grain Free Grammy's Pot Pie in Gravy
5.6
4 color scale
Average Score
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Merrick Grain Free Canned has a score of 5.6/10 and is considered a moderate risk dog food. There are 24 recipes with average protein of 44% and average carbohydrates of 20% as calculated on a dry matter basis, which is high for a wet dog food. However some recipes have low carbohydrate levels of 4% to 15% while others are as high as 30%. Those foods lose ingredient quality points for higher carbohydrates. These foods also have added vitamins and minerals that usually reflect poor quality or overly processed ingredients. The line also loses ingredient quality points for using molasses, inflammatory seed oil and plant protein. On the ingredient safety side, canned foods are highly processed and that lowers safety and nutrient content. Other concerns are high pesticide ingredients and GMO ingredients in the top 5 ingredients, rice that can contain arsenic and natural flavor.  

Merrick Grain Free Canned Benefits

Merrick Grain Free Canned Concerns

Merrick Dog Food Recalls

Merrick has experienced the following dog food recalls.

05/23/2018 – Castor & Pollux Good Buddy Prime Patties and Sausage Cuts; Merrick Real Beef Jerky, Real Beef Sausage and Real Steak Patties – potential elevated beef thyroid hormone

08/08/2011 – Doggie Wishbone pet treats – potential salmonella contamination

01/30/2011 – Junior Texas Taffy pet treats – potential salmonella contamination

01/15/2010 – Beef Fillet Squares – potential salmonella contamination

07/06/2010 – Beef Fillet Squares and Texas Hold ‘em pet treats – potential salmonella contamination

08/4/2010 – expanded recall for 07/06/2010 recall

08/16/2010 – expanded recall for 07/06/2010 recall

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