These days, you’re still left with an overwhelming number of options when shopping for just high-quality dog food. Many high-quality dog food brands have emerged in response to the care and concern that many dog owners have for their dogs’ diets.
Two brands that produce healthy and natural dog food are Merrick and ACANA. At a quick glance, these brands may look fairly similar. However, they have distinct differences that are worth further examination. Our in-depth analysis of each brand will help you to determine which one is the better option for you and your dog.
Click to skip ahead:
- A Sneak Peek at the Winner: ACANA
- About Merrick
- About ACANA
- The 3 Most Popular Merrick Dog Food Recipes
- The 3 Most Popular ACANA Dog Food Recipes
- Recall History
- Merrick VS ACANA
A Sneak Peek at the Winner: ACANA
While both brands are reputable, ACANA came out on top as the winner. ACANA dog food is produced by a smaller company. So, it may be a little more limited in resources and connections, but it has excellent quality control practices and a clean track record in producing healthy recipes that are safe for dogs to eat.
Some of our favorite ACANA recipes are ACANA Rescue Care for Adopted Dogs Poultry Sensitive Digestion Dry Dog Food and ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Duck & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food.
Our in-depth analyses of each brand have helped us to carefully select the winner. Keep reading for all the essential information you need about each brand.
|ACANA Rescue Care for Adopted Dogs Poultry Sensitive Digestion Dry Dog||
|ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Duck & Pumpki||
Merrick has humble beginnings as a small family business that made wholesome dog treats. It has gone through several significant changes over the years and has now become a popular and well-known brand amongst pet owners.
Merrick was founded in 1988 by Garth Merrick in Hereford, Texas. He and his family started making healthy and natural dog treats. With the success of the treats, he expanded to developing recipes for his dog, Gracie, because he wanted to ensure that she was eating wholesome and nutritious meals.
In 2010, Swander Pace Capital bought Merrick Pet Care. While under Swander Pace Capital, Merrick Pet Care acquired other dog food brands, such as Castor & Pollux, Whole Earth Farms, and Zuke’s. Then, in 2015, Nestle Purina Pet Care Company bought Merrick.
Today, Merrick produces over 125 recipes for dry food, wet food, and treats. This brand is known for using natural, high-quality ingredients. It was also the first brand to develop wet and dry pet food that met the USDA National Organic Program’s certification requirements.
However, it’s also important to keep in mind that Merrick does have a recall history. Merrick has had repeated recalls for the potential for salmonella that were made after FDA inspections.
Types of Recipes
Merrick offers a wide range of recipes for dogs of all ages. It also has some USDA-certified organic dog food recipes and healthy grains recipes. You can also find special diets, including limited-ingredient, grain-free, and healthy weight diets.
Merrick is also known for its wide selection of wholesome wet food recipes. These recipes use meat as their first ingredient and have a blend of fruits and vegetables without any preservatives or by-products. Most of these recipes have a lot of protein, and they can be used as delicious and enticing meal toppers for picky dogs.
Since Merrick has built a reputation for using natural and wholesome ingredients, its dog food is relatively expensive compared to other large dog food brands, including ACANA.
The fruits and vegetables that Merrick uses are sourced from American farms. Its chicken is also sourced within the US. However, their duck and rabbit are sourced in France and their lamb and venison are from New Zealand. Merrick also uses a vitamins and minerals premix that comes from Germany and Canada.
ACANA is a brand of pet food produced by Champion Petfoods. Champion Petfoods was founded in 1975 and now manufactures and produces numerous dog food recipes.
Champion Petfoods was founded by Reinhard Muhlenfeld due to his growing concerns about the prevalence of imported animal feed in Canada and the US. He believed that local ingredients were better and started his business in a factory in Barrhead, Alberta.
Muhlenfeld first began his business by building partnerships with local farmers and selling animal feed. However, with the decreased demands for hog feed, he branched out to producing pet food in 1985.
Today, Champion Petfoods produces two main brands of pet food: ACANA and Orijen. ACANA is the more affordable line of pet food that still uses natural, high-quality ingredients. Orijen is the premium pet food line and contains a higher content of meat than ACANA pet foods.
Types of Recipes
Although ACANA doesn’t have as many recipes as Merrick, it still has an extensive selection of wet and dry dog food for all life stages. You can also find specialty recipes, including grain-free, gluten-free, limited-ingredient, and weight control diets.
Unlike Merrick, ACANA doesn’t have any USDA-certified organic dog foods. However, this company has a clean recall history to date. It has also won prestigious awards, including the 2017 Global Markets Programme Award from the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). It also has Safe Quality Food and Safe Feed/Safe Food certifications.
Champion Petfoods has expanded significantly throughout the years, so it now sources its ingredients globally. Most ingredients are sourced in Canada and the US. However, some ingredients, particularly meat, are sourced from outside countries. Its lamb is from New Zealand, and it sources its fish from Scandinavia.
ACANA dog food is crafted in Champion Petfoods’ own kitchens located in Edmonton, Alberta and Auburn, Kentucky. It doesn’t outsource its production to any third-party companies or factories.
The 3 Most Popular Merrick Dog Food Recipes
Here’s a more in-depth review of Merrick’s popular dog food recipes.
1. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Beef + Brown Rice Recipe with Ancient Grains Adult Dry Dog Food
This recipe is a fan favorite amongst many dogs. It has deboned beef as its first ingredient and includes pork meal and lamb meal. The blend of different meats makes the food more palatable to dogs, but it may be too difficult to digest for some dogs with sensitive stomachs.
The recipe contains healthy grains and seeds, including brown rice, barley, quinoa, and flaxseed. It also has carrots and apples for extra flavor and nutrients. It’s also fortified with high levels of omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin to support the skin and coat and joint health.
2. Merrick Healthy Grains Raw-Coated Kibble Real Chicken + Brown Rice Recipe Freeze-Dried Dry Dog Food
This recipe is a savory meal for dogs. While the kibble is already packed with flavor, it has raw freeze-dried coating for extra flavor. However, this dog food only contains poultry, so only huge fans of chicken will enjoy this meal, and especially picky dogs may turn their noses.
The recipe is nutritious as the formula contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support the skin and coat. In addition, it has glucosamine and chondroitin to support hip and joint health.
3. Merrick Grain-Free Wet Dog Food Grammy’s Pot Pie
Merrick is widely known for its delicious wet dog food recipes. This Grammy’s Pot Pie recipe is one of the most popular options. It uses USDA-inspected real deboned chicken as the first ingredient, and it contains nutritious fruits and vegetables that dogs also enjoy eating, like potatoes, carrots, and apples.
The recipe has a high protein content, so it’s possible to serve it as a standalone meal for active and athletic dogs that need to consume a lot of protein. However, it may contain too much protein for most dogs. So, although it’s marketed as a full meal, it’ll most likely be more appropriate as a meal topper.
The 3 Most Popular ACANA Dog Food Recipes
Now, let’s take a look at ACANA’s most popular dog food recipes.
1. ACANA Rescue Care for Adopted Dogs Poultry Sensitive Digestion Dry Dog Food
This recipe has chicken and chicken meal as its first ingredients. It also contains other healthy sources of protein, including turkey meal, chicken heart and liver, and eggs. The recipe also contains plenty of antioxidants, vitamin E, DHA, and EPA to support your dog’s immune system.
Keep in mind that this recipe contains a variety of legumes, including lentils, pinto beans, peas, and chickpeas. Properly cooked legumes are safe for dogs to eat in small quantities, but there are also investigations of any relationship between legumes and heart disease in dogs. It’s still unclear how consuming large quantities of legumes impacts a dog’s overall health.
2. ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Duck & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food
In contrast to ACANA’s Poultry Sensitive Digestion Dry Dog Food, this recipe doesn’t contain any legumes. It uses whole grains, such as whole oats and sorghum, which are nutrient-dense and rich in fiber to support healthy digestion. It also contains butternut squash and pumpkin, which are easily digestible foods for dogs.
This recipe lists duck as its first ingredient and only uses duck, except for a small amount of fish oil. The fish oil is derived from pollock and herring. So, it’s safe for dogs with allergies and sensitivities to beef, chicken, or salmon.
3. ACANA Red Meat Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
This recipe contains a savory blend of beef and pork and lists beef and deboned pork as its first two ingredients. It also includes lamb and nutrient-dense organ parts, such as tripe, liver, and kidney.
The recipe contains a variety of raw fruits and vegetables, like apples, collard greens, pears, and pumpkin. These ingredients are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals and fiber. However, like many of ACANA’s grain-free recipes, this recipe also contains a significant amount of legumes, including lentils, pinto beans, peas, and chickpeas.
Recall History of Merrick and ACANA
While ACANA has a clean recall history. It almost had a recall issued by the FDA for the potential for salmonella. However, ACANA was able to prove that its dog food was uncontaminated.
In contrast, Merrick has had several recalls over the years. The most recent recall was in May 2018. The recall was due to potentially elevated beef thyroid hormone in some of its beef-based dog treats. Merrick also had recalls for the potential for salmonella in some dog treats in January and August 2011 and July and August 2010. These recalls were all issued by the FDA.
Lastly, Merrick had another recall for the potential for salmonella in September 2002. This recall was announced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the FDA for Merrick Delicatessen Style Beef Steak Patties.
Merrick VS ACANA
When it comes to taste, both Merrick and ACANA are pretty evenly matched. They both offer a wide variety of recipes with different kinds of meats and produce, so it’s possible to find a recipe that your dog likes from both brands.
However, Merrick has a slight leg up on flavor due to its wet dog food. It has creative recipes with savory flavors that most dogs won’t be able to resist.
Merrick may have some USDA-certified organic recipes, but ACANA outperforms Merrick when it comes to ingredients and sourcing. ACANA provides more transparency, and it has a more detailed traceability system. All of ACANA’s recipes are formulated by experts in the field and are designed to be biologically appropriate so that dogs are eating nutritious meals with ingredients that are safe for them to eat. If you’re concerned about recipes with legumes, there are plenty of other options that are legume-free and highly nutritious.
ACANA also sources from local farms and is extremely selective when choosing to work with global partners. It has prestigious accolades for food safety, and only prepares batches of food in its own kitchens. Lastly, it doesn’t have recalls, while Merrick has recalled for repeated issues.
Most of ACANA’s dog food is cheaper than Merrick’s. So, if you have a dog that doesn’t have any specific dietary restrictions, you’ll save on costs by choosing ACANA. Both Merrick and ACANA have a selection of dog food with simple and clean ingredient lists. However, if buying organic is a priority for you, then Merrick is the clear choice in this matter.
Merrick has the slight upper hand when it comes to selection. It has more distinct dog food recipes than ACANA for both dry food and wet food. However, both companies still have an extensive line of food options. Also, Champion Petfood’s premium line is Orijen, so you can always look beyond ACANA and explore Orijen’s dog food.
Both Merrick and ACANA are considerable options when shopping for new dog food. They both supply recipes for dogs of all ages and produce specialty diets. They also use natural ingredients and use real meat as the first ingredient in their recipes.
If affordability and transparency are a priority for you, then ACANA is a suitable pet food brand for you. If you prioritize the use of organic ingredients and purchase wet dog food, then Merrick is a better match.
ACANA is the winner in this comparison. Since Champion Petfood is a smaller company, it’s able to monitor its ingredient sourcing and food production more closely than Merrick. ACANA also uses high-quality, traceable ingredients. This combination of factors significantly reduces the risk of contaminations and recalls.
Merrick is still a reputable brand and has the capability to manufacture and produce more recipes than ACANA. So, if you’re looking for options, Merrick has plenty of nutritious recipes for your dog to try.
Overall, ACANA is the safer choice and delivers high-quality dog food. It continues to make great strides in providing nutritious meals to pets, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it develop and expand its variety of healthy and tasty pet food as the years go on.