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Dog Food Ratings

Please be aware that Hill’s is voluntarily recalling some canned dog food due to potentially elevated levels of Vitamin D. More information here.

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy Dry Dog Food

by Merrick
TOP PICK
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Review Summary

30 Second Summary

March 7, 2019
Updated

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy is a mid-priced dog food with exceptional quality. This product has no controversial ingredients, including zero artificial preservatives, colors and flavors - that’s perfect. The food has a somewhat high amount of carbs, compared to its protein and fat but has excellent meat and fat quality. Merrick has no dog food recalls and the company was also extremely transparent when answering our questions. Watchdog Labs highly recommends this product.

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TYPE
Dry Dog Food
PRICE
$$
BREED SIZE
Toy, Small Breeds
AGE
Puppy
FEATURES
Grain-Free, No Corn Wheat or Soy
PACKAGE
4, 12 lbs
MADE IN
United States
COMPANY
Nestle Purina PetCare

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Nutrition

Nutrition

This food has a fair amount of protein fat but is somewhat high in carbs, which is lowering the fat content slightly and making it less nutritionally balanced compared to other dog foods we evaluated. Carbohydrates are cheap so they keep the food’s cost low. They are nutritionally useful to dogs in the right amounts, however, high amounts of carbs can reduce the much-needed meat-based protein and fat content.

To evaluate dog foods, we first calculate out the moisture. This is called the “dry matter basis” and shows you only the solid ingredients in the food. These estimated “dry matter” numbers are different from the food label, but a better way to understand the real nutritional value of the food. We also calculate the carbs. Find out more

Label Claim

Dry Matter

Min. Protein 31.46%

Min. Fat 16.85%

Min. Carbs 43.82%

Max. Fiber 5.06%

Max. Ash 7.87%

Max. Moisture 0.00%

Label Claim

Food Label

Min. Protein: 28.0%

Min Fat: 15.0%

Min Carbs: N/A

Max Fiber: 4.5%

Max Ash: N/A

Max. Moisture: 11.0%

Calories

Calories

397 Calories per Cup

This product has a somewhat high amount of calories. It’s important to understand how many calories you are feeding to prevent under or overfeeding. Slightly higher calorie foods like this are typically best for fairly active dogs who need a moderate amount of daily calories. Based on your dog's current weight and activity level you may want to feed more or less than the recommended amount. It's helpful to know that weight loss foods often have fewer than 340 calories per cup, weight maintenance foods typically range from 340-380 calories, and high-activity dog foods are usually over 400 calories.

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FDA Alert

FDA Alert

Grain-Free Dog Foods

This is a grain-free dog food. The FDA is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and canine heart disease. There is not enough evidence yet to affect our ratings but we've created an article for you explaining the topic.

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98.0%
WATCHDOG
SCORE
Score BannerOverall Rating Score
Ingredients

Ingredients

Score
98%
43
Total Ingredients
0
Controversial Ingredients

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Potato Protein, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed Oil, Salmon Oil, Apples, Blueberries, Inulin (from chicory root), Gelatin, Salt, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate), Choline Chloride, 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), Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casein Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

The average dog food we reviewed has 39 total ingredients, with 1 controversial ingredient. This product has 0 controversial ingredients - perfect.


Top 5 Ingredients

Dog food ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. So when looking at a dog food label, take a close look at the first 5 ingredients. They make up about 80% of the total weight.

  • Deboned Chicken
    Chicken is generally a healthy dog food ingredient that provides nutrients like protein, fat and B vitamins. Raw meat contains about 75% water which is cooked off during the making of dog food. This leaves only a fraction of the protein content in the final product's weight. We recommend looking for dog foods that also include meat meals in the first five ingredients (pre-cooked meat powder that contains four times the amount of protein). De-boned simply means that the bones have been removed.
  • Chicken Meal
    Meat meals are the result of cooking. Water is removed from meats to create a protein-rich meal powder. Meat meals contain about four times the protein meats do, so generally, they're a good source of nutrients. Chicken meal is generally a healthy dog food ingredient.
  • Potatoes
    Potatoes provide carbohydrates (mostly starch) and are a rich source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that there is a potential link between potatoes and canine heart disease. It is still too early to draw conclusions so we cannot yet say if potatoes are a generally high-quality dog food ingredient or should be avoided.

  • Peas
    Peas are a good source of carbs, fiber and protein. Peas are starchy but high in vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc. We consider this a healthy dog food ingredient. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that there is a potential link between peas and canine heart disease. It is still too early to draw conclusions so we cannot yet say if peas are a generally high-quality dog food ingredient or should be avoided.

  • Sweet Potatoes
    S
    weet potatoes are a root vegetable that are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta-carotene and other vitamins. They are a high-quality dog food ingredient.

Controversial Ingredients

This dog food doesn't have any controversial ingredients.


Country of Origin

Merrick dog food is made in the United States. This is very positive, because of the strict dog food safety standards here.


Meat & Fat Quality

The meats and added fats/oils in this dog food are all clearly named. This means the animal and plant sources are clearly showing which species the ingredients come from. This is a sign of transparency and food quality.


Artificial Preservatives

This product contains no controversial preservatives. It’s good to know that not all artificial preservatives are bad. That’s because they serve an important purpose, which is to prevent food from spoiling. However, we consider 11 artificial preservatives controversial because of their potential link to cancer and other serious health conditions.


Artificial Colors

No artificial colors are to be found either, very good.


Artificial Flavors

Lastly, no artificial flavors are used in this dog food.

Recalls

Recalls

Score
100%
0
Brand Recalls

Merrick has a below-average number of dog food recalls.

Transparency

Transparency

Score
95%

We love dog food brands that are committed to transparent business practices. If you make quality dog food you should be willing to openly talk about how it’s sourced and produced. That’s why we reached out to pet food companies, asking questions about all their brands and products. Each company had three weeks to reply to our messages.

How Easy Was it to Reach the Company?

Unfortunately, Merrick has an aggressive disclaimer in their email that prohibits posting the content from the email. However, they did respond within 1 day with complete answers.

Does Merrick have a veterinary nutritionist on staff? If so, who are they?

Satisfying answer was received, but sharing the response is prohibited by Merrick.

Who formulates your recipes, and what are their credentials?

Satisfying answer was received, but sharing the response is prohibited by Merrick.

Do you test your products using AAFCO feeding trials? Why, or why not?

Satisfying answer was received, but sharing the response is prohibited by Merrick.


What country are your products manufactured?

Satisfying answer was received, but sharing the response is prohibited by Merrick.

Can your manufacturing facilities be visited?

Satisfying answer was received, but sharing the response is prohibited by Merrick.

What quality measures do you use to assure consistency and quality?

Satisfying answer was received, but sharing the response is prohibited by Merrick.

Does Merrick own its manufacturing facility? If it is another company, what company is it?

Satisfying answer was received, but sharing the response is prohibited by Merrick.

Do any parts of your product come from China?

Satisfying answer was received, but sharing the response is prohibited by Merrick.



Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy Dry Dog Food

by Merrick
CHECK PRICE NOW
Other Products From This Brand

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