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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 Itsy Bitsy Beef Stew Dog Food Trays

by Merrick
TOP PICK
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Review Summary

30 Second Summary

March 7, 2019
Updated

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Itsy Bitsy Beef Stew is a high-priced dog food with exceptional quality. It’s great that this product has no controversial ingredients at all, including zero artificial preservatives, colors and flavors. The food also has well-balanced amounts of protein, fat and carbs and 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
Wet Dog Food
PRICE
$$$
BREED SIZE
Toy, Small Breeds
AGE
Adult
FEATURES
Grain-Free, No Corn Wheat or Soy, Gluten-Free
PACKAGE
3.5 oz
MADE IN
United States
COMPANY
Nestle Purina PetCare

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Nutrition

Nutrition

This food has well-balanced amounts of protein, fat, and carbs. Diets that are high in protein and fat, with moderate to low carbs, are ideal for most dogs.

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 44.44%

Min. Fat 16.67%

Min. Carbs 27.78%

Max. Fiber 7.78%

Max. Ash11.11%

Max. Moisture 0.00%

Label Claim

Food Label

Min. Protein: 8.0%

Min Fat: 3.0%

Min Carbs: N/A

Max Fiber: 1.4%

Max Ash: N/A

Max. Moisture: 82.0%

Calories

Calories

90 Calories per Can

This product has a below average amount of calories for wet food. It’s important to understand how many calories you are feeding to prevent under or overfeeding. Based on your dog's current weight and activity level you may want to feed more or less than the recommended amount.

FDA Alert

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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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99.5%
WATCHDOG
SCORE
Score BannerOverall Rating Score
Ingredients

Ingredients

Score
100%
39
Total Ingredients
0
Controversial Ingredients

Beef, Beef Broth, Venison Broth, Beef Liver, Dried Egg Whites, Potato Starch, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Green Beans, Apples, Peas, Guar Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sunflower Oil, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Choline Chloride, Xanthan Gum.

The average dog food we reviewed has 39 total ingredients, with 1 controversial ingredient. This product has 0 controversial ingredients listed on the packaging.


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.

  • Beef
    Beef is the culinary name for cuts of meat from cattle, particularly skeletal muscle. In dog food, beef can also include muscle tissues from the tongue, heart, diaphragm or esophagus. Beef is rich in protein and nutrients like niacin, vitamin B12, creatine, iron and zinc. Beef is generally a healthy dog food ingredient. Whole 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. We recommend looking for dog foods that also include meat meals (pre-cooked meat powder that contains four times the amount of protein).
  • Beef Broth
    Broth is often used as a healthy natural flavor or instead of water when making dog food. It makes dogs more likely to eat the food and adds moisture but doesn't provide a lot of nutritional value. Beef Broth is generally a healthy dog food ingredient.
  • Venison Broth
    Venison broth is generally a healthy dog food ingredient and is made from deer meat.Broth is often used as a healthy natural flavor or instead of water when making dog food. It makes dogs more likely to eat the food and adds moisture but doesn't provide a lot of nutritional value.

  • Beef Liver
    Beef liver is an organ that's rich in iron, copper, and vitamin A and B. Generally, the liver is a nutritious and healthy ingredient that provides nutrients and flavor that makes your dog want to eat the food.

  • Dried Egg White
    Dried egg whites are a powder made by drying shell-free egg whites. Eggs are a high-quality protein source that offers excellent amino acid availability to dogs. They also provide healthy nutrients like vitamin A, calcium and iron. We consider this a healthy dog food ingredient.

Controversial Ingredients

This food includes no 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 excellent because it’s a sign of transparency and dog 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?
Merrick responded within 1 day with complete answers. Unfortunately, they have an aggressive disclaimer in their email that prohibits us from sharing the answers they provided.


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

The company answered this question in detail but did not allow us to share the answer publicly.

Who formulates your recipes, and what are their credentials?

The company answered this question in detail but did not allow us to share the answer publicly.

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

The company answered this question in detail but did not allow us to share the answer publicly.


What country are your products manufactured?

The company answered this question in detail but did not allow us to share the answer publicly.

Can your manufacturing facilities be visited?

The company answered this question in detail but did not allow us to share the answer publicly.

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

The company answered this question in detail but did not allow us to share the answer publicly.

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

The company answered this question in detail but did not allow us to share the answer publicly.

Do any parts of your product come from China?

The company answered this question in detail but did not allow us to share the answer publicly.

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Itsy Bitsy Beef Stew Dog Food Trays

by Merrick
CHECK PRICE NOW
Other Products From This Brand

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