Introduction

Merrick has been making dog food for over 30 years, and still makes their food in Hereford, TX, where they started. They offer a range of both wet and dry food for dogs and cats, and they tout the expertise that their nutrition team offers. 

Ingredients

Merrick prides itself on using whole, high-quality ingredients from carefully selected farmers, and has several different safety and quality checks in place. It is unclear if they produce their meat to any particular welfare standards.

Protein

Merrick Beef & Brown Rice contains four different protein sources: beef, pork, salmon, and lamb. These are all high-quality sources of protein, which will give dogs a healthy blend of amino acids. 

Some of these meats are in “meal” form. Meat meals may not sound appealing to us, but they have excellent nutritional value, and will still taste good to our dogs! They often contain bone as well as meat, making them a great natural source of minerals such as calcium or phosphorous. They also make use of ingredients that might otherwise go to waste due to their appearance, meaning that they are a more sustainable option than using food that is appealing to humans. 

Fat

There are three obvious sources of fats in Merrick Beef & Brown Rice: flaxseed, sunflower oil, and pork fat. All three of these are sources of essential fatty acids (omega-3s and -6s) as well as fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin E. 

There is some evidence that essential fatty acids from plants (like flax or sunflowers) are harder for dogs’ bodies to use than those fish. However, this recipe also contains salmon, which is likely to contain additional high-quality fatty acids, too.

Carbohydrates

This recipe boasts the use of “ancient grains,” which here appear to be brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and quinoa. Dogs can happily digest these kinds of grains, and they are high in complex carbohydrates (for slow-release energy) and fiber, which is important for gut health. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Merrick Beef & Brown Rice contains carrots, apples, and alfalfa meal. These are all good sources of fiber, which are important for gut health, as well as various vitamins. 

Alfalfa meal also has a relatively high protein content, but it’s unlikely to be contributing much to the overall amount in this diet. 

This food also contains chia seeds, as well as the flax seeds we mentioned earlier. Both are also good sources of fiber. 

Other Ingredients

Most of the other ingredients in Merrick Beef & Brown Rice are various vitamins, minerals, and other important micronutrients such as choline. 

However, there are a few you might not recognize:

  • Yucca Schidigera is a plant extract added to improve the odor of dogs’ stool.
  • Tocopherols and citric acid are both natural preservatives. 
  • The various dried Lactobacillus fermentation products are probiotics, added to improve gut health (see later).

Health Benefits of Merrick Beef & Brown Rice 

Nutritionally Balanced

Let’s start with the basics. Merrick Beef & Brown Rice is formulated according to AAFCO nutritional guidelines and is suitable for adult maintenance. Merrick also employs several experts in veterinary nutrition and produces their food in their own plants. This means we can be confident that this food will provide our adult dogs with all the nutrients that they need to live a long and healthy life. 

Legume-Free

Merrick also advertises that this diet is “Pea free, lentil free, and potato free.” There have been some recent concerns about an outbreak of heart disease caused by low taurine levels, which were linked to grain-free diets. Not only is this recipe free of ingredients like peas, lentils, and potatoes, which were suspected to be causing the taurine deficiency, but Merrick also supplements their diets with additional taurine. 

Joint Support?

This recipe also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to “…support healthy hips and joints.” Some scientific studies suggest that glucosamine and chondroitin do indeed help dogs with arthritis, but others have not shown a benefit. A recent review, which looked at all the available evidence, concluded that currently “…the potential benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin use in [dogs with arthritis] can neither be confirmed nor denied,” and that further studies were needed. 

Pros and Cons of Merrick Beef & Brown Rice 

Pros

  • A complete and balanced diet for adult dogs, meaning it will provide all the nutrients that they need. 
  • Designed and overseen by experts in pet nutrition.
  • Made directly by the company in their own facilities.
  • Free from ingredients that may cause taurine deficiency and heart disease.

Cons

  • Contains four different animal protein sources (pork, salmon, beef, and lamb), meaning it may not be suitable for dogs with food allergies. 
  • Not suitable for puppies (though Merrick does offer other diets that are designed for them).
  • Not tailored for senior dogs, who have slightly different nutritional needs to active adults (though Merrick also offers diets aimed at them).

Conclusion

Merrick Beef & Brown Rice dog food is designed and made to a high nutritional standard and is a great choice for any healthy adult dog. However, puppies and seniors will benefit from choosing one of Merrick’s other diets that are tailored specifically for them. Dogs with known food allergies should also avoid this food as it contains several different protein sources which could trigger a reaction. 

Information as of 3/31/22