Taste of the Wild vs. Merrick: Who Wins? 
When it comes to premium dog food brands, Taste of the Wild and Merrick are often at the forefront of discussions. In this article, we delve deep into a side-by-side comparison, evaluating both on ingredients, ingredient quality, protein content, price and value, and their recall histories. This comprehensive analysis aims to assist pet owners in making an informed decision tailored to their canine companion’s needs.
Taste of the Wild Vs. Merrick: An In-Depth Ingredient Comparison
Taste of the Wild Ingredients Pros:
- Diverse Protein Sources: Taste of the Wild emphasizes wild, ancient protein sources such as bison, venison, salmon, and fowl. These protein sources are not just novel but are also lean and rich in essential amino acids, making them ideal for muscle development and maintenance.
- Grain-Free & Ancient Grains Options: While grain-free diets can be beneficial for dogs with certain allergies or sensitivities, some recent concerns have arisen about potential links to heart conditions. Taste of the Wild has addressed this by offering both grain-free and ancient grains options, allowing pet owners to make an informed choice based on their pets’ needs.
- Addition of Probiotics: Many Taste of the Wild formulas include proprietary probiotics, ensuring dogs benefit from enhanced digestive health.
- No Artificial Additives: The brand refrains from using artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, emphasizing a more natural approach to dog nutrition.
Taste of the Wild Ingredients Cons:
- Use of Meat Meals: While meat meals like chicken meal or fish meal are concentrated sources of protein, some pet owners prefer whole meat sources. Taste of the Wild does include meat meals in their ingredient list.
- Ingredient Sourcing: Although Taste of the Wild prioritizes high-quality ingredients, they are sourced from various locations, which can raise concerns for those who strictly want USA-sourced ingredients.
Merrick Ingredients Pros::
- Whole Meat as Primary Ingredient: Merrick typically starts its ingredient list with whole meats, such as deboned chicken or beef. Whole meats are moisture-rich and provide a readily bioavailable source of protein.
- Inclusion of Organ Meats: Organ meats are nutrient-dense and provide a natural source of vitamins and minerals. Merrick includes these valuable ingredients in many of their recipes.
- Locally Sourced Ingredients: Merrick prides itself on its farm-to-bowl philosophy, sourcing the majority of its ingredients from local farmers and ranchers. This approach can mean fresher ingredients and a smaller carbon footprint.
- Diverse Carbohydrate Sources: Merrick incorporates a variety of carbohydrate sources, including sweet potatoes, peas, and whole grains like brown rice and barley. This diversity can cater to different energy and dietary needs.
Merrick Ingredients Cons:
- Price Point: Given the high-quality and locally sourced ingredients, Merrick is often priced higher than many other brands, including Taste of Wild.
- Fewer Novel Protein Options: While Merrick does offer a variety of protein sources, they don’t provide as many “wild” or novel options as Taste of the Wild. For dogs with specific allergies, these novel proteins can sometimes be a better fit.
- Use of Some Controversial Ingredients: Merrick, in a few recipes, has included ingredients like alfalfa and caramel color that aren’t typically seen as necessary in dog food and can be points of contention among dog nutrition enthusiasts.
When analyzing the ingredients of both brands, it’s evident that both prioritize high-quality protein sources, though the type and presentation of those proteins vary. While Taste of the Wild brings a touch of the wilderness with its unique protein options, Merrick leans into farm-fresh, whole meat ingredients.
Grain-free options are available in both lines, but the approach differs. Taste of the Wild offers ancient grains, leaning into the idea of grains that have been unmodified over thousands of years, while Merrick combines both grain-free and whole-grain recipes.
In terms of additives, both brands demonstrate a commitment to natural nutrition, though the inclusion of certain ingredients like caramel color in Merrick’s case or the use of meat meals in Taste of the Wild can be points of consideration for discerning pet owners.
Compare Pricing & Discounts: Taste of the Wild vs. Merrick
Recalls & Lawsuits: Taste of the Wild Vs. Merrick
When evaluating the safety and reliability of pet food brands, understanding their recall history and any associated lawsuits is crucial. Let’s delve into the histories of Taste of the Wild and Merrick to shed light on these aspects.
Taste of the Wild Recalls & Lawsuits:
- 2012 Recall: Taste of the Wild was one of several brands recalled in 2012 due to potential salmonella contamination. This recall was initiated by Diamond Pet Foods, the manufacturer for Taste of the Wild, and affected a range of brands and products. While no illnesses were directly linked to Taste of the Wild products, the recall was enacted as a precautionary measure.
- Lawsuits: In 2018, a lawsuit was filed against Diamond Pet Foods concerning Taste of the Wild dog food. The lawsuit alleged that certain products were found to contain pesticides, heavy metals, and BPA. It’s important to note that these were allegations, and the presence of these substances was still within the limits considered safe by the FDA. The lawsuit aimed to address labeling concerns, suggesting the dog food wasn’t as “natural” as its marketing claimed.
Merrick Recalls & Lawsuits:
- 2010 & 2011 Recalls: Merrick experienced recalls in 2010 and 2011. The 2010 recall involved a single lot of their Beef Filet Squares dog treats due to potential salmonella contamination. In 2011, Merrick recalled a specific lot of its Doggie Wishbone pet treats, also due to potential salmonella presence. Neither recall was linked to any reported pet or human illnesses.
- 2015 Recall: Another recall in 2015 saw Merrick pulling off a limited quantity of two recipes from the market. The reason was a potential presence of elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone. Consuming these products could lead to specific symptoms in dogs, including increased thirst and urination. No illnesses were reported, and the issue was promptly addressed by the company.
- Lawsuits: To the best of current knowledge, Merrick has not faced any significant lawsuits directly related to the safety or quality of their dog food products. However, it’s worth noting that in the pet food industry, legal challenges can arise for various reasons, not just related to product safety.
While both Taste of the Wild and Merrick have experienced recalls in the past, these incidents are not uncommon in the pet food industry. Brands often issue voluntary recalls as a precautionary measure, even if no direct link between the product and any illness has been established. It showcases their commitment to ensuring pet safety.
When considering lawsuits, Taste of the Wild faced allegations mostly related to labeling and the natural claim of their products. In contrast, Merrick hasn’t faced significant lawsuits related to their products’ safety or quality. However, a lawsuit does not always indicate a fault with the product, and often, the concern is with marketing or labeling practices.
In summary, while both brands have faced their share of challenges, they have also demonstrated a commitment to addressing issues and ensuring the safety of their products. Consumers are advised to stay informed and updated on any pet food recalls or industry news to make the best decisions for their pets.
Compare Pricing & Discounts: Taste of the Wild vs. Merrick
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