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Home > Dogs > Merrick vs Acana Dog Food: 2024 Comparison, Pros & Cons

Merrick vs Acana Dog Food: 2024 Comparison, Pros & Cons

Merrick vs Acana - Featured Image

If you are a pet parent, you know the difficulty of selecting the right food all too well. If you are still floating around in the sea of confusion and endless options, you are certainly not alone. We know it’s hard to narrow down the best choice when you have high-quality, reputable foods to decide from.

Acana and Merrick are two mainstream dog food brands that come highly recommended, so how do you pick which one would work for your dog? Well, we’ve put in the work for you to break down each brand right here in one place so that you don’t have to.

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A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Acana

Image Product Details
Winner
ACANA Free-Run Poultry Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food ACANA Free-Run Poultry Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • Deboned chicken and turkey as first ingredients
  • Great source of quality protein and fiber
  • Made from locally sourced ingredients
  • Second place
    ACANA Sea to Stream Recipe ACANA Sea to Stream Recipe
  • Crafted with wholesome grains
  • Zero artificial flavors
  • Rich in fiber
  • Though the competition was close, Acana came through at the top spot. Acana’s focus is set on making biologically appropriate foods using only fresh ingredients from local, sustainable sources through partnering with the local agricultural community. Not only does Acana feature high-quality ingredients but offers a variety of recipes to choose from at a very reasonable price.

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    About Merrick

    Merrick was by Garth Merrick of Hereford, Texas. He began whipping up home-cooked meals for his beloved dog, Gracie to ensure she was being fed the most nutritious, healthy food possible. That may be where it began, but Merrick the pet food company started in 1988 and has grown substantially in the last three decades.

    The brand is now a very popular pet food in households all over. They emphasize creating pet food from high-quality ingredients using whole, fresh foods in each recipe. In addition, all Merrick food is still crafted right in Hereford, TX. Merrick makes a variety of products including dry kibble, wet food, food toppers, and treats. It doesn’t matter what life stage or type of diet your dog has; Merrick most likely has a suitable recipe. As of 2015, Merrick Pet Care was acquired by the Nestlé Purina PetCare Company.

    Pros
    • Great variety of food options
    • Made in Hereford, Texas
    • Real meat is always the #1 ingredient
    • Provides a quality, well-balanced diet
    Cons
    • History of product recalls
    • No formulas for large breed puppies

    About Acana

    Acana is owned by Champion Petfoods, which was founded in 1975. Champion Pet Foods also produces another well-known premium dog food brand, Orijen. Champion has been subject to class action lawsuits that ultimately led to a change in labeling and promotional advertisement. Acana produces both dog and cat foods for all stages of life and some special dietary options. Acana is committed to producing food from only local, sustainable ingredients.

    Acana is a very popular brand that is sold in over 60 countries around the world. They were first recognized for their grain-free diet options but have since added grain-inclusive and limited ingredient varieties. They most recently launched a brand new wet food line after many years of having no wet food options.

    Acana guarantees that every recipe will feature at least 50 percent premium animal ingredients and will never contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. They also never include soy, corn, tapioca, or any wheat.

    Pros
    • All recipes feature at least 50% premium animal ingredients
    • Uses only local, sustainable ingredients
    • No history of recalls
    • Offers grain-free, grain-inclusive, and limited ingredient foods
    • No recipes use artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Limited wet food options
    • History of class action lawsuits

    divider-dog The 3 Most Popular Brand Merrick Dog Food Recipes

    Here’s a look at the 3 most popular and well-reviewed Merrick dog food recipes and a detailed review of each:

    1. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe

    Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken

    First 5 Ingredients:

    • Deboned Chicken
    • Chicken Meal
    • Brown Rice
    • Barley
    • Turkey Meal

    Guaranteed Analysis:

    • Crude Protein 26% Min.
    • Crude Fat 16% Min.
    • Crude Fiber 5% Max.
    • Moisture 11% Max.

    Caloric Content:

    • 3711 kcal/kg
    • 393 kcal/cup

    Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe is a dry food that features real chicken as the first ingredient and also incorporates healthy grains into the mix. This food is formulated with a lot of omega-fatty acids for skin and coat health and some glucosamine and chondroitin to maintain healthy joint function.

    Developed with essential vitamins, and minerals, this offers up a well-rounded and balanced diet for those who are looking for a grain-inclusive option. It doesn’t matter what breed, age, or size your dog is, if they don’t have any special diet considerations that conflict with the ingredients, it makes for a great food choice.  Dog owners rave about how shiny their pup’s coats have come while using this recipe. Some doggies didn’t take well to the food and refused to eat it all together.

    Pros
    • Real chicken is the #1 ingredient
    • Added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
    • Features a blend of grains for those seeking grain-inclusive foods
    • Leaves coats shiny and healthy
    Cons
    • Not all dogs took well to the taste

    2. Merrick Back Country Raw-Infused Grain-Free Great Plains Red Recipe

    Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free Great Plains Red Recipe

    First 5 Ingredients:

    • Deboned Beef
    • Lamb Meal
    • Salmon Meal
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Potatoes

    Guaranteed Analysis:

    • Crude Protein 38% Min.
    • Crude Fat 17% Min.
    • Crude Fiber 5% Max.
    • Moisture 11% Max.

    Caloric Content:

    • 3,704 kcal/kg
    • 392 kcal/cup

    The Merrick Back Country Raw-Infused Grain-Free Great Plains Red is a freeze-dried raw coated kibble with freeze-dried raw bites included in the mix. This recipe is poultry free and features real deboned beef as the first ingredient.  The formula is easily digestible and very rich in protein, omega-fatty acids, and even glucosamine and chondroitin for some added joint support.

    This recipe is crafted for those looking for high-quality grain-free food. You can always check with your veterinarian to ensure that grain-free is necessary for your dog. It can make an ideal choice for those with grain allergies. The biggest complaint among dog owners was the expense coupled with the lack of advertised freeze-dried bits mixed in the kibble.

    Pros
    • Deboned beef is the #1 ingredient
    • Added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
    • Freeze-dried raw coated kibble for extra taste
    • Great for those with grain allergies
    Cons
    • Not a lot of freeze-dried bites mixed with kibble
    • Expensive

    3. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet with Healthy Grains Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe

    Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet

    First 5 Ingredients:

    • Deboned Salmon
    • Salmon Meal
    • Brown Rice
    • Oatmeal
    • Barley

    Guaranteed Analysis:

    • Crude Protein 24% Min.
    • Crude Fat 14% Min.
    • Crude Fiber 5% Max.
    • Moisture 11% Max.

    Caloric Content:

    • 3623 kcal ME/kg
    • 384 kcal ME/cup

    If you have an allergy sufferer at home, this recipe is certainly worth looking into. The Merrick Limited-Ingredient diet has single-source protein and is ideal for those that have food allergies and sensitivities. This formula features real, deboned salmon as the number one ingredient and features a blend of healthy grains for easy digestion. The recipe avoids chickpeas, lentils, peas, soy, corn, wheat, dairy, and eggs to avoid some of the most common allergens.

    This is a very well-rounded, wholesome food that is reasonably priced and crafted specifically for sensitive stomachs. It wasn’t the biggest hit for picky eaters, as there were some complaints of dogs turning their nose up to the food but overall, it comes highly recommended by owners with pups that suffer from various allergies.

    Pros
    • Deboned salmon is the #1 ingredient
    • Crafted for dogs that suffer from allergies and sensitivities
    • Perfect for those looking for a limited ingredient diet free of beef and poultry
    Cons
    • It may not work for picky eaters

    divider-dog The 3 Most Popular Brand Acana Dog Food Recipes

    Now, let’s take a look at the 3 best-selling Acana dog food recipes and see what they are all about:

    1. ACANA Free-Run Poultry Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    ACANA Free-Run Poultry Recipe + Wholesome Grains Gluten-Free Dry Dog Food

    First 5 Ingredients:

    • Deboned Chicken
    • Deboned Turkey
    • Chicken Meal
    • Whole Red Lentils
    • Whole Pinto Beans

    Guaranteed Analysis:

    • Crude Protein 29% Min.
    • Crude Fat 17% Min.
    • Crude Fiber 6% Max.
    • Moisture 12% Max.

    Caloric Content:

    • 3623 kcal ME/kg
    • 384 kcal ME/cup

    Acana’s Free-Run Poultry recipe features deboned chicken and deboned turkey as the first two ingredients. These recipes include either fresh or raw fruits and vegetables to provide a well-rounded blend of essential vitamins, nutrients, and fiber.

    Like all recipes from Acana, the ingredients are locally sourced and produced here in the United States at the Champion Pet Food facility in Kentucky. This recipe is coated with freeze-dried chicken and turkey for some extra flavor. This is a grain-free recipe that is made without corn, soy, wheat, and tapioca. Overall, this food comes highly reviewed by dog owners but some did report some trouble with loose stools.

    Pros
    • Deboned chicken and deboned turkey are the first two ingredients
    • Coated with freeze-dried chicken and turkey for extra flavor
    • Great source of quality protein and fiber
    • Made from locally sourced ingredients
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Reports of loose stools

    2. ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Duck & Pear Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Duck & Pear Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    First 5 Ingredients:

    • Deboned Duck
    • Duck Meal
    • Duck Liver
    • Sweet Potato
    • Whole Chickpeas

    Guaranteed Analysis:

    • Crude Protein 31% Min.
    • Crude Fat 17% Min.
    • Crude Fiber 5% Max.
    • Moisture 12% Max.

    Caloric Content:

    • 3408 kcal/kg
    • 388 kcal/cup

    Acana Singles Limited Ingredient Duck & Pear Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is made for those that suffer from allergies or have more sensitive stomachs. It features real, deboned duck as the first ingredient and a single protein source. This is a protein-rich food that also contains a good percentage of fiber to help support digestion.

    The formula is crafted without any peas, corn, or grain. Since this is a grain-free diet, it’s best to check with your veterinarian to ensure that grain-free is a good option for your dog. It features a blend of vitamins, minerals, and taurine for healthy immunity and circulatory system support.

    This recipe gets a ton of support from dog owners all over, especially those that were looking for the right food for their allergy sufferer. There were some issues with picky eaters turning their noses up to the food.

    Pros
    • Deboned duck is the #1 ingredient
    • Rich in protein and fiber for healthy digestion
    • Limited ingredients for allergy sufferers
    • Made from locally sourced ingredients
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Turned down by some pickier eaters

    3. ACANA Sea to Stream Recipe + Wholesome Grains Gluten-Free Dry Dog Food

    ACANA Sea to Stream Recipe

    First 5 Ingredients:

    • Whole Atlantic Herring
    • Whole Mackerel
    • Whole Catfish
    • Herring Meal
    • Mackerel Meal

    Guaranteed Analysis:

    • Crude Protein 31% Min.
    • Crude Fat 17% Min.
    • Crude Fiber 6% Max.
    • Moisture 12% Max.

    Caloric Content:

    • 3370 kcal/kg
    • 371 kcal/cup

    This protein-rich recipe features raw whole herring, mackerel, and catfish as the first three ingredients and includes some healthy grains for a punch of fiber for healthy digestive support. As with all Acana recipes, there are no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and this recipe is free from legumes, potatoes, and gluten for those that need to avoid those ingredients.

    Owners of allergy sufferers commend this food for solving all their problems, especially for dogs that suffer from protein allergies such as chicken and beef. A lot of people love how Acana featured the Wholesome Grains line after the grain-free controversy and recipes just like this one make pet parents feel more at ease. This particular recipe is a bit expensive compared to some others but it held up in terms of palatability.

    Pros
    • The first three ingredients are raw whole herring, mackerel, and catfish
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    • High in protein and rich in fiber
    • Features a proprietary heart-healthy vitamin pack
    • Highly palatable
    Cons
    • Expensive recipe

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    Recall History of Merrick and Acana

    Merrick

    Merrick has a history of recalls throughout their dog treat lines but there was no history of a dog food recall. We’ve included a list of all recalls that have taken place since 2009 concerning their products.

    • Merrick Dog Treats were recalled in January of 2010 due to Salmonella.
    • Merrick dogs treats were recalled in July of 2010, this recall was expanded on August 4, 2010, and again on August 16, 2010, due to Salmonella.
    • Merrick beef-based dog treats were recalled in May of 2018 due to potentially elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone.

    Acana

    • Acana has no history of product recalls.

    Ongoing FDA Investigation into Pet Food

    It is important to note that the FDA identified both Merrick and Acana, as two of the 16 pet food brands that are being investigated regarding a link to heart disease in both dogs and cats. No foods have been recalled as a result of this investigation, which began in 2019 and is still ongoing. Most foods being investigated are grain-free kibble formulas. We strongly advise you to talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns over your dog’s diet and any potential health-related issues it could cause.divider-dog

    Merrick VS Acana Comparison

    Here’s where we’ll break down each brand and compare them side by side and see who comes out on top regarding the most important considerations of choosing the right dog food.

    Taste

    When it comes to taste, we have to call it a tie. Both Merrick and Acana put a lot of focus on making sure their recipes are palatable. Of course, you will always have picky eaters turning their noses at even some of the most aromatic and well-loved foods. It’s all about finding out what works for your dog. Both of these brands do offer freeze-dried raw coating in some, but not all of their recipes to add a kick of flavor.

    Nutritional Value

    The two brands are neck and neck in terms of nutritional value, though we have to give it to Acana. Overall, Acana does have higher protein content, though Merrick’s is nothing to scoff at, as it comes very close and each recipe does vary. In terms of carbohydrates, Acana is a clear winner with lower percentages overall. In terms of fiber, the two even out as they both use nutritious fiber sources in their recipes. When it comes down to it, Acana has no product recalls and Merrick has been subject to a few, so though it’s a close one, we’ll give this one to Acana.

    Price

    Both of these brands also go neck and neck with price and price is highly dependent on which recipe and bag size you get. Merrick and Acana are not the least expensive food options on the market but both are fairly reasonable in terms of pricing versus overall quality. Some recipes featuring more rare protein sources come in at higher prices per pound for each brand. We will have to call this one a tie.

    Selection

    Merrick gets the top spot in terms of the overall selection. They feature a wide variety of both wet and dry food recipes with varying protein sources and a wide range of special dietary considerations and choices for dogs of all ages. They also have a diverse choice of treats on the market, including grain-free, grain-inclusive, rawhides, and dental chews.

    Acana does have a decent selection of products but it pales in comparison to Merrick’s list of choices. They only recently launched a wet food line and the varying dog food recipes and treat options, while great quality is much more limited.

    Overall

    This comparison was as close as it gets but Acana gets our choice as the winner for coming in on top in overall nutritional value, locally and sustainably sourced ingredients, and their lack of recall history. This certainly doesn’t disqualify Merrick as a top contender, especially in terms of selection but recall history coupled with some very slight differences in overall nutrition leaves them in second place.

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    In Conclusion

    After a thorough and close comparison, we ended up choosing Acana but the competition came so close that Merrick deserves some credibility.  When it comes to ingredients, quality, and affordability, each of these brands truly delivers. Remember to speak to your veterinarian about any questions you have regarding your dog’s diet.

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