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Merrick Dog Food: Formulas, Recipes, and Recalls

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Dog Food By Meg Marrs 15 min read June 16, 2020 3 Comments

Merrick Dog Food Review

Formulas, Recipes, & Recalls

OUR RATING:

5/5

DATE FOUNDED:

1988

PARENT COMPANY:

Nestle Purina

LAST RECALL:

2010

Favorite Merrick Recipes

Merrick Healthy Grains Beef + Brown Rice

Best Grain-Inclusive Recipe

merrick-healthy-grains
This hearty formula featured beef and pork meal, along with healthy grains like brown rice, barley, and oatmeal.

Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Great Plains

Most Protein

merrick-back-country
A meaty protein-packed kibble featuring beef, lamb, and rabbit, along with raw-infused pieces

Merrick Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato

Best Limited Ingredient Diet

merrcick-salmon-lid
A grain-free recipe made with just 9 key ingredients and single source protein to help dogs with allergies and intolerances.

Merrick History & Background

Merrick is a well-respected dog food company first established by Garth Merrick in 1988.

Merrick’s promise? To produce top-tier kibble with only the freshest, highest quality ingredients available.

Merrick seems to meet this promise quite well – all their formulas are corn-free and soy-free. They also feature no artificial flavors, artificial colors, or chemical preservatives.

In addition to their standard formulas, in recent years Merrick has also released Backcountry and Limited Ingredient Diet formulas in order to meet the evolving needs of customers and their pets.

Merrick’s Five Star Promise commits to never sourcing any ingredients from China, relying instead on local growers and family farms to make dog food in the USA.

They also have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so that if you or your dog aren’t happy with Merrick, you’ll get your money back.

In 2015, Purina purchased the Merrick Dog Food company. While no formula changes have been made, this makes some owners nervous about the future of Merrick’s quality. So far, the only changes involve Purina sharing canning techniques with Merrick.

Merrick is a favorite brand of many owners due to its high quality balanced with affordable pricing (at least when compared with competing dog food brands of similar quality – it’ll still cost more than your average bag of Pedigree).

Merrick Recall History

Merrick hasn’t had any recalls in several years.

The last recalls were in 2010 – for Merrick’s Beef Filet Squares and Merrick Texas Hold’ems Pet Treats, and in 2011 for Merrick Doggie Wishbone Pet Treats and Merrick Jr. Texas Taffy Pet Treats due to potential contamination with salmonella.

While recalls are never fun to see, it’s relieving to know that it’s been many years since Merrick’s last recall, showing that the company has likely corrected whatever manufacturing or processing problem that was leads to potential salmonella contamination.

Merrick Formulas & Recipes

Merrick offers quite a large selection of formulas, as well as individual recipes featuring different protein sources.

Let’s review their kibble formulas below.

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains

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Merrick Classic Healthy Grains

Quality dog food with healthy grains

A grain-inclusive high-quality formula with real meat as the first two ingredients

While exact meats and ingredient lists will depend on the particular recipe (see a list of recipes below), most Merrick Classic formulas start with at least two high-quality meat protein sources, featuring the first ingredient as deboned meat, poultry, or fish.

After the initial protein-packed meats, other major ingredients are brown rice, barley, and oatmeal – all solid, healthy complex carbohydrates. This formula makes a point of not including any corn, wheat, soy, peas, lentils or potatoes.

New Formula

Merrick’s Classic line has been updated with a new recipe that includes no peas, lentils, or potatoes, as these ingredients have been correlated with DCM in dogs. This section has been updated accordingly.

Many dog foods overdue the carbohydrates and end up using them as fillers to make up for a lack of protein. However, so long as the dog food is largely comprised of meat protein, a few carbohydrates (especially complex carbohydrates and quality grains like oatmeal and barley) are perfectly fine.

In the Ancient Grain formulas, you’ll also find ingredients like quinoa, chia seeds, and alfalfa meal. Quinoa is better than most grains – it’s high in protein and dietary fiber. Chia seeds are a nice bonus as they provide fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Alfalfa meal is high in protein and fiber, but it’s a bit of an odd ball ingredient (more commonly found in horse feed). Still, there’s no harm in it.

Merrick’s classic formula has solid numbers, with a 29% protein composition.

Key Features:

  • Beef and pork meal are first two ingredients
  • Also includes salmon meal and lamb meal for meat proteins
  • Healthy, hearty grains like brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and quinoa
  • New formula is pea, lentil, and potato free
  • Supplemented with taurine
  • Great Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Includes glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints
  • All food is cooked in the USA

Based on the Merrick Classic Real Beef with Ancient Grains formula

Merrick Classic Real Beef Ingredients

Deboned Beef, Pork Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Pork Fat, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavor, Lamb Meal, Quinoa, Flaxseed, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Carrots, Apples, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium. Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Chia Seed, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Citric Acid for freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

Merrick Classic Recipes

  • Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Beef + Brown Rice with Ancient Grains
  • Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken + Brown Rice with Ancient Grains
  • Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Lamb + Brown Rice with Ancient Grains
  • Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe
  • Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused

Most Hearty Protein

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Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused

Grain-free formula with raw bites

This wild protein-powered formula features an impressive assortment of animal meats with raw-infused pieces mixed in

Although the specific meats will vary depending on the formula, many of Merrick’s backcountry raw infused formulas use rich meat protein sources and generally feature meats as the first three ingredients.

The higher up meat is in the ingredient list, the better. This means your dog is getting a protein-packed formula – just what canines need.

Most recipes in the Backcountry Raw Infused formula are grain-free, complemented with pieces of raw, freeze-dried meat.

Formula Update

Merrick has recently begun offering a few alternatives to their standard Backcountry line, including a few grain-inclusive recipes.

After the meats, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and peas are major ingredients in the backcountry raw line. Sweet potatoes are a good complex carbohydrate source with beneficial fiber. Potatoes and peas are high up in the ingredient list, offering additional quality carbohydrates.

Other ingredients include salmon oil, packed with omega-3 fatty acid, and canola oil. Canola oil is a bit of a problematic ingredient according to some, but in such small amounts it’s unlikely to cause any issues. This formula also features high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin which can aid in hip and joint health.

Merrick’s backcountry raw infused line has very strong nutritional numbers, featuring a 38% protein composition* – higher than the majority of dog foods on the market.

*Based on the Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch Formula

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch Ingredients

Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Whitefish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Whitefish, Trout, Flaxseed, Salt, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Apples, Blueberries, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Citric Acid for freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

Merrick Backcountry Raw Recipes

  • Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Big Game
  • Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird
  • Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Large Breed
  • Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch
  • Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Hero’s Banquet
  • Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red
  • Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Puppy

Merrick Backcountry Raw with Healthy Grains (NEW)

Merrick has released a new variation on their standard Backcountry line for owners who like the Backcountry infusion of raw pieces, but are looking for a grain-inclusive formula.

Options include:

  • Merrick Backcountry with Healthy Grains – Great Plains
  • Merrick Backcountry with Healthy Grains – Pacific Catch
  • Merrick Backcountry with Healthy Grains – Puppy Recipe

As you can see in the ingredient list below, the Backcountry with Healthy Grains line features brown rice, oatmeal, and barley while removing the sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes that are featured in the standard Backcountry line.

Watch Out!

Fans of the Backcountry line were upset to see that the NEW Backcountry with Healthy Grains – Great Plains now includes chicken as an ingredient, whereas the original Backcountry Great Plains does not. This is an issue for dogs who have a chicken allergy.

Merrick Backcountry Raw with Healthy Grains – Pacific Catch Ingredients

Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Whitefish Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Potato Protein, Whitefish, Trout, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Apples, Blueberries, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Citric Acid for freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

Merrick Grain Free

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merrick grain free duck

Merrick Grain-Free

Protein-rich formula with no grains

Meat features in the first three ingredients, plus no corn, wheat, or soy in these recipes

While exact ingredients depend on the specific formula, many of Merrick’s grain free formulas feature whole meats and meat meals in first three ingredients, resulting in a high protein compositions.

After the meats, sweet potatoes are high up in the ingredient list, offering a good source of complex carbohydrates that also provide plenty of fiber for your pooch.

These recipes are grain-free and feature no corn, wheat, or soy. There are also no gluten ingredients or artificial preservatives.

Other ingredients include peas, potatoes, and even more meat further down in the ingredient list. Many formulas also include salmon oil, which is a fantastic source of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.

Merrick’s grain free line also includes some recipes that are poultry-free and potato-free for dogs with allergens looking to avoid these ingredients.

Merrick’s grain-free dog food line has extremely remarkable protein amounts, featuring a nearly unheard of 42% protein composition*.

*Based on the Merrick Grain Free Real Duck and Sweet Potato Formula

Merrick Grain Free Real Duck & Sweet Potato Ingredients

Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Chicken Fat, Salmon Meal, Pea Protein, Potato Protein, Deboned Chicken, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Apples, Blueberries, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for Freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Citric Acid for Freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

Merrick Grain-Free Recipes

  • Merrick Grain Free Real Duck and Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Lamb and Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Turkey and Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Buffalo and Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Venison and Chickpeas
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Rabbit and Chickpeas
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Salmon and Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken and Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe
  • Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet (LID)

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Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet (LID)

A limited-ingredient formula ideal for dogs with allergies

Grain-free formula with an ultra-short ingredient list that leave out common allergens.

First ingredients include real meats and meat meals, along with complex carbohydrates (like sweet potato).

This Merrick formula is grain-free, but unlike Merrick’s standard grain-free formula, this line uses a limited number of ingredients in an effort to only keep what is essential and nothing extra.

Formula Update

Merrick’s LID line formerly features meat and chickpeas, but Merrick has since removed the chickpeas and included more sweet potatoes instead. While this won’t be an issue for new customers, some existing customers have been frustrated by the change to this limited-ingredient formula, as their dogs had adapted to the original formula.

While limited ingredient recipes are desirable for dogs with allergies, in this case we wouldn’t recommend this formula over other in Merrick’s line.

Merrick’s LID (Limited Ingredient Diet) line features 26% protein* – less protein than other formulas. However, it’s still an excellent choice if you have a dog with allergies or intolerances, in which case fewer problematic ingredients are always better, even if the protein is a bit lower.

*Based on Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula

Merrick LID Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Ingredients

Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Pea Protein, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salt, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Calcium Iodate), DL- Methionine, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, d- Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Citric Acid for freshness.

Merrick LID with Brown Rice

Merrick has recently begun offering another limited-ingredient diet option for dogs who have allergies but still want the benefits of healthy grains in their diet.

This formula is different than the standard Merrick Grain-Free LID line. Instead, this formula features brown rice, oatmeal, and barley and removes the peas and potatoes (although it still does contain a lesser amount of sweet potato).

Merrick Salmon & Brown Rice Ingredient List:

Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley, Sweet Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Salt, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Calcium Iodate), DL- Methionine, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, d- Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Citric Acid for freshness.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Recipes

  • Merrick LID Grain Free Lamb & Sweet Potato
  • Merrick LID Grain Free Salmon & Sweet Potato
  • Merrick LID Grain Free Chicken & Sweet Potato
  • Merrick LID Chicken & Brown Rice
  • Merrick LID Salmon & Brown Rice

Merrick Lil’ Plates

Best For Small Dogs

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Merrick Lil’ Plates

A grain-free line for small breed dogs

This line of food specifically designed for petite pooches offers an impressive protein count along with other quality ingredients

Merrick’s Lil’ Plates Grain-Free formula is a line of grain-free dry and wet recipes made specifically for small breed dogs. The dry recipes rely on smaller kibble for easier eating.

First ingredients include real meats and meat meals, along with complex carbohydrates (like sweet potato).

Also includes quality ingredients like coconut oil, salmon oil, and flaxseed oil, great for omega-3 fatty acids.

It also has an impressive protein composition of 38%* (quite unusual for most dog food)

*Based on Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula

Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Ingredients

Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Whitefish Meal, Potato Protein, Natural Flavor, Coconut Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Deboned Whitefish, Apples, Flaxseed Oil, Blueberries, Inulin (from chicory root), Organic Alfalfa, Gelatin, Salmon Oil (source of Omega-3 fatty acids), Salt, 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), Choline Chloride, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Recipes:

  • Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Puppy Chicken & Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Real Lamb & Sweet Potato
  • Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Senior Chicken & Sweet Potato
Special Note

While the Lil’ Plates line of Merrick formula is generally high-quality with a 5 star rating, a few recipes are rated slightly lower (at least according to DFA)

The Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Puppy and the Lil’ Plates Grain Free Lamb recipes only receive a 4 star rating. This is likely due to lower protein percentages than most other recipes in the Lil’ Plates formula.

Merrick Advantages & Pros

We feel that Merrick really does meet their promise of high-quality and wholesome ingredients. None of their recipes include soy, corn, artificial coloring, or chemical preservatives.

When examining Merrick’s first five ingredients across their many formulas, there are rarely any ingredients to take issue with.

Most formulas have an impressive protein makeup that should please the majority of owners.

We also love that Merrick is relatively affordable, especially compared against other mid to high quality dog foods. This means you don’t need a high budget to feed your pooch that good stuff!

Merrick Disadvantages & Cons

There isn’t much bad to say about Merrick. Many owners express anxiety about Merrick’s acquisition by Purina in 2015, but it does seem – at least for now – that Purina plans on leaving Merrick’s formulas alone and letting them do what they do best.

Merrick formulas due tend to include the occasional controversial ingredient, like potato protein, pea protein, or alfalfa meal. However, most consider these ingredients nothing to be concerned about and quite harmless, especially when in such minor amounts.

Nearly all the formulas offer very impressive protein counts, with the exception of the Grain Free Limited Ingredient line. Even then, the protein count isn’t terrible, but it’s certainly the lowest compared against Merrick’s other offerings.

Final Thoughts On Merrick

We heartily recommend Merrick as a great high-quality, affordable dog food for your pooch. The first and often second and third ingredients are quality proteins, and are always deboned meats or identified meat meals rather than mystery, un-identified meat meals.

Merrick doesn’t rely on lackluster fillers to bulk up their formulas, instead generally using sweet potatoes as a hearty carbohydrate source.

Many Merrick formulas feature healthy additives like coconut oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil, vegetables, and fruits in some cases too!

That’s what we think about Merrick – but what about you? Do you feed your dog Merrick dog food? If so, what’s your favorite formula or recipe? What do you think of the Merrick brand? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Merrick Dog Food FAQ

Is Merrick dog food made by Purina?

In 2015, Merrick was bought by Nestle Purina. Merrick has continued to operate as an independent business.

Is Merrick dog food linked to heart disease?

Merrick is one of the largest dog food brands offering a significant number of grain-free formulas, which the FDA is exploring after detecting a correlation to grain-free diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). Merrick as a brand is not specifically linked to heart disease. We suggest feeding your dog Merrick’s grain-inclusive foods if you are concerned about DCM.

Is Merrick dog food made in China?

No, Merrick dog food is made in USA. Specifically, at Merrick’s manufacturing facilities in Hereford, TX. Food is prepared in a Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 3 facility, uses locally-sourced ingredients – including USDA certified meats – and meets FDA guidelines. (source)

3 Comments

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Frances

We switched our mini Dachshunds from Blue Buffalo to Merrick Lil Plates salmon and sweet potato about a month ago. Every since the switch both dogs poop is black. Is this normal? A little worried here.

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Donna Guinn

Hi my dogs have enjoyed the grain free salmon and sweet potato for several years but recently I was reading about some dogs that have had low taurine levels with some grain free foods with legumes in the first five ingredients or potatoes. I just wanted to check with you all on that topic to see if there are any concerns since there are peas and sweet potato in the first five ingredients

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Marti Jewell

When will Merrick have a Healthy Weight for Lil’ Plates dry for small dogs?

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