Freshpet Vital Grain Free (Rolls)

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Freshpet Vital Grain Free rolled dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Freshpet Vital Grain Free product line includes four rolled dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Beef and Bison [A]
  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Turkey (3.5 stars) [A]
  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Salmon and Ocean Whitefish [A]
  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Chicken, Beef, Salmon and Egg [A]

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Salmon and Ocean Whitefish was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Salmon and Ocean Whitefish

Rolled Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 39% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 18%

Ingredients: Salmon, ocean whitefish, spinach, cranberries, blueberries, carrageenan, salt, natural flavors, sunflower oil, inulin, dried ground broccoli, dried ground pomegranate, vitamins: choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, biotin, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, minerals: calcium sulfate, dicalcium phosphate, zinc proteinate, potassium chloride, iron proteinate, tricalcium phosphate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.2%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis9%8%NA
Dry Matter Basis39%35%18%
Calorie Weighted Basis28%60%13%
Protein = 28% | Fat = 60% | Carbs = 13%

The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Salmon is an oily marine and freshwater fish not only high in protein but also omega 3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is ocean whitefish, a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast.

This item is typically sourced from clean, undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings of commercial fish operations.1

The third ingredient is spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score2 of 91.

The fourth ingredient includes cranberries, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.

The fifth ingredient lists blueberries. Blueberries are a good source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The sixth ingredient is carrageenan, a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

The seventh ingredient is salt (also known as sodium chloride). Salt is a common additive in many dog foods. That’s because sodium is a necessary mineral for all animals — including humans.

However, since the actual amount of salt added to this recipe isn’t disclosed on the list of ingredients, it’s impossible to judge the nutritional value of this item.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With three notable exceptions

First, sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.

Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.

There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.

Next, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Freshpet Vital Grain Free
Rolled Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Grain Free rolled dog food looks like an above-average product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 39%, a fat level of 35% and estimated carbohydrates of about 18%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 39% and a mean fat level of 35%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 18% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 88%.

Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical rolled dog food.

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a rolled product containing a moderate amount of meat.

However, with 60% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 28% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal. In addition, this same finding also prevents us from awarding the brand a higher rating.

Bottom line?

Freshpet Vital Grain Free is a meat-based rolled dog food using a moderate amount of poultry, salmon or beef as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.

Recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

Freshpet Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

09/04/2016 Last Update

  1. Adapted by The Dog Food Advisor from the official definition of other fish ingredients as published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Completeness Score is a measure of a food’s relative nutrient content and is computed by NutritionData.com from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
  • theBCnut

    If you want the OP to see your post, you definitely have to reply to the OP.

  • Jason Shwagner

    Sorry to hear about your furbaby. I will say though, there is zero chance of the food being a cause of canine diabetes unless this food was given over a sustained period of time like a year or more and even then this food is far less “fatty” than many on the market. Feeding a dog a food for a few weeks wont cause it unless it was already going to happen due to underlying issues. My dogs have been on it for a month, the beef and bison formula, and are doing superb so far and one has lost weight and gained some definition while the other is already proper weight and is thriving. Everyones mileage may vary of course.

  • theBCnut

    I don’t think any food can cause diabetes without there being a severe case of pancreatitis first.

  • Dori

    Excellent advice crppmoys. Wish I’d remembered that. There were some pretty frightening findings.

  • Dori

    I think for us to give better information we would need to know more about your mini Dachshund. Her age, size, weight before pregnancy, during pregnancy. What does she weigh now? How long has it been since the pregnancy? What Freshpet were you feeding? I know you mention rolled, but what was the protein and fat levels, carb levels would be important to know also.

  • LS

    Dachshunds are more prone to developing diabetes, as are obese female dogs and is more common in older dogs, between 6-9 years.

    It can also be inherited depending on the age of the dog and they Type of diabetes. You shouldn’t be breeding this dog if this is the case. But it’s hard to say since you didn’t tell us how old the dog is or what Type she has.