VF Complete (Dry)

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

PRODUCT MAY HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED

VF Complete Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The VF Complete product line includes twelve kibbles. However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the company’s website, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:

  • VF Complete Puppy Formula
  • VF Complete Senior Formula
  • VF Complete Active Adult Formula
  • VF Complete Performance Formula
  • VF Complete Holistic Adult Formula
  • VF Complete Holistic Puppy Formula
  • VF Complete Weight Control Formula
  • VF Complete Large Breed Puppy Formula
  • VF Complete Holistic Weight Control Formula
  • VF Complete Large Breed Adult Formula (3.5 stars)
  • VF Complete Adult Turkey and Rice Formula (3 stars)
  • VF Complete Adult Chicken and Rice Formula (3 stars)

VF Complete Holistic Adult Formula was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

VF Complete Holistic Adult Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 13% | Carbs = 50%

Ingredients: Chicken meal, brown rice, rice flour, beet pulp, rice bran, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of linoleic acid), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of linoleic acid), natural chicken flavor, flax seed, dried vegetables (carrot, celery, beet, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach), dried egg product, brewers yeast, dried cranberries, fish oil, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, lecithin, dl-methionine, glucosamine hydrochloride, vitamin E supplement, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation extract, Yucca schidigera extract, garlic, dried cheese, chondroitin sulfate, zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, copper sulfate, niacin, biotin, manganous oxide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, sodium selenite, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium bisulfate complex (source of vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, cobalt carbonate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis26%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%13%50%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%29%45%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The second item is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The third ingredient is rice flour. Rice flour is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.

The fourth item mentions beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.

The fifth ingredient lists rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.

The sixth ingredient is sunflower oil. 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.

The seventh ingredients lists chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

After the natural flavor, we find flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

Following the dried vegetables, we note the inclusion of dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly.

Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

Brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.

Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.

Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.

In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.

In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.

What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

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 four notable exceptions

First, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.1

However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).

Next, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.

Thirdly, this food also 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.

And lastly, this VF Complete dog food also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

VF Complete Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, VF Complete Dog Food looks like an above-average kibble.

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 29%, a fat level of 13% and an estimated carbohydrate content of 50%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.

Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. This controversial supplement made us question ourselves in awarding this favorable rating.

Menadione-phobic consumers may wish to pass on this product.

Bottom line?

VF Complete Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

Those looking for a more economical kibble from the same company may want to check-out our review of Enhance Dog Food.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

A Final Word

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

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.

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.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

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

Notes and Updates

05/23/2010 Original review
12/23/2010 Review updated (unable to locate website)
07/23/2013 Product has been discontinued
07/23/2013 Last Update

  1. Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005)
  • Hound Dog Mom

    What other brands does your supplier carry? I’d make a list of a few others that are within your price range then check the rating of those foods here – any four or five star food that is available and affordable to you would make a good alternative.

  • lab

    The VF brand is no longer.  Our supplier has one more shipment and that is it.  What is a good alternative to this food?  Our dogs have done well on it and I really do not want to switch brands but this has apparently been taken out of our hands.  

  • Lp1619

    Uncle Luke’s Feed Store on Livernois near South Blvd in Troy is where I get mine.  Just a bit south of Val’s Pet Supplies.

  • Sally Black

    I am trying to locate a store that carries VF Chicken and Rice (Adult)  My pet store has just discontinued it, I am trying another chicken and rice that they recommened but has had some throwing up issues????

  • Wyohorseman

    I had a female border collie at about 13 years of age she was showing signs of hip problems, while attending a sheep dog trial in Utah I was introduced to the VF brand of dog food. I changed my dogs diet and within a few months she was not showing the signs of hip problems as before. she was bright coated and much more animated, she lived for another 5 years, I attribute those added years to the change in diet– I like this product and feed it to the two borders I have now.

  • Pingback: Best Dry Dog Foods « winnipegfashion

  • Frank K

    Mike:

    I have been feeding VF Complete Chicken and Rice to my giant schnauzer and giant weimaraner for a bout 4-5 years. Last week the GS came down with “acquired thrombocytopenia” an autoimmune disease where her blood platelet count dropped to 27 per– when it should have in in the 10,000s per –. She was essentially bleeding to death over a seven hour period during the night. We caught it just in time, now I am researching more nutritious food for my dogs.

    Best:

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    HI Michael… Imagine yourself eating the same meal twice a day for over a year. No changes. Feeding table “scraps” can be a no-no. But that’s only when they’re scraps. Fatty trimmings. Gristle. Connective tissue. Cartilage.

    But we feed Bailey fresh people food all the time. And we rotate his diet. Change proteins. Use canned or fresh toppers over his kibble. And when we do feed kibble, we almost never feed it alone We rarely feed it all by itself.

    There’s much information on all these feeding “tactics” throughout the FAQ and Library. As well as the many comments left by others on this website. Be sure to transition to any changes very slowly over a week or so. After eating the same food meal-after-meal and day-after-day, it’s very easy to “shock” your dog’s digestive system.

    In any case, if you do it right, be prepared for a brand new dog. Hope this helps.

  • Michael Bell

    After feeding our Rottie this food for about a year and a half, now she won’t touch it and when she does eat it because she is so hungry, she has had the worst gas ever. She eats this food and no table scraps or human food of any kind. I am suspicious of a recipe change occurring around summer of 2011.

  • Connie

    We have fed our German Shepherds VF Large Breed food for the last couple of years. With the purchase of the recent bag neither of the dogs will eat it. Has something changed in the formula.

  • Karen

    I’ve started feeding my dog the VF Complete Holistic Adult. Contacted Ainsworth through the proper channels posted on their website several times by email and by phone. My inquiry was: how many calories are there per cup and what is the phosphorus percentage? That information is not listed on the bag. I never received a response. Their lack of communication makes me think twice about purchasing this food for my dog again….

  • Ray

    I have been feeding my British/Irish male lab VF Complete “Active Adult” (regular not “holistic”) and VF Complete “Performance” since his was a puppy. He’s now 5+ years. I switch to “Performance” in August for hunting season, then back to Active Adult in late March. I have had nothing sort of SUPERIOR results with this dog food! I carefully measure his daily feeding depending on his level of activity, and add nothing to his feed. He weighs a constant 62-64 lbs, gets 2 1/2 measured cups a day (except when hunting very hard then maybe 2 3/4 – 3 cups) . My dog has thrived on this food!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Michelle… Probably for liability reasons, and because in hard times some humans have had to resort to eating dog food, many products are labeled “not suitable for human consumption”. This is not necessarily a sign of an inferior product. It’s simply a warning that the food is not recommended for feeding to your human family. After all, this is dog food. Not people food.

  • Antonio

    Bob K, you beat me to the punch, I was wondering the same thing, if a person has a dog that’s going downhill for 3 years and suddenly takes their dog to the vet on the 3rd year I would wonder more about the owner than i would the pet food at this point. But I’m sure that was just a misinterpretation, but in all honesty I agree w/ Bob if you fed this for 3 years at what point did you notice all the above mentioned symptons, and up until recently Enhance was made by Arkat, which was a Bakers award winning facility, and it was also a family owned buniness located in Dumas, AR, the people there generally answered the phone anytime you called, now they were a bit slow on email, but generally if you called their phone line you would get a live voice, so I’m not sure if you and your vet were calling the wrong number or if there were any calls actually placed at all. And no I’m not a rep for this company, but I have used this food in the past and it is not a bad food at all, the only problem here is that since Ainsworth Pet purchased Arkat, it’s been difficult finding their products in my state.

  • Bob K

    Michelle – Get a grip on reality. You fed your dogs this food for three years and all of a sudden its “BAD”. What were you doing the last 3 years? How did you come to the conclusion that your dogs were overdosed on yeast? Maybe you got a bad bag? Not fit for human consumption means just that – “Its not for people to eat.” it does not necessarily mean its the worst leftovers and fillers. Food can also be graded many ways for many reasons incuding quality, expiration dates, pricing, packaging, distribution or even marketing reasons. Lots of bulk materials and foods come from the same source but are grade, packaged, stored differently.

  • Michelle

    When a dog food bag says “not fit for human consumption” means that the meat used in the food is the worst leftovers and fillers you can GET>

  • Michelle

    This is a BAD dog food. It contributed to our dog’s bloat and almost killed him with an overdose of yeast. Our veterinarian has had a tough time contacting this company and we are still nursing our dogs from the toxic overdose. We had our dogs on this for almost 3 years. Our male’s coat became dull and shed with dandruff, their eyes became dull and cloudy, and it contributed to their “allergies”. BAD BAD BAD!!!!!!!!! We have since started to follow a raw food diet and his coat has become shiny, his eyes are cleared up and his dandruff is no more. Do not trust or use this product without getting more information, if you can.

  • connie

    my bl lab has so much more energy since i started feeding him vf large breed .also he likes it &it is not tooo high priced so u can feed your dog something healthy. the omegas &glucousamines r good in this product.right!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Cindy… The Dog Food Advisor is an independent review site. You’ll need to contact the manufacturer to get an answer to your question.

  • http://spirithawklabs.com cindy

    What part of your products come from China?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Renee… I wouldn’t read anything into this warning. We see this a lot on dog foods. Not sure whether this statement is a legal requirement or if it’s just a precautionary alert designed to insulate the manufacturer from potential liability claims. In hard times, it’s sad that some humans have been known to turn to pet food for their own nutrition. :(

  • Renee

    Can you tell me if you think it is ok that it says on this bag that it is not fit for human consumption. I have used this dog food without any problems but I must admit that statement bothers me and there are other brands to choose from that do not say this. Is there an explanation for it.

    any insight would be appreciated

    Thanks!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Debra… In the very near future, we’ll be adding a special “Where to Buy” directory of dog food retailers. So, you’ll soon be able to find a retailer that sells the foods you’re looking for. And you’ll be able to search by either brand or by zip and postal code. Until then, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer for this information.

  • Debra Trautman

    Where can i purchase “VF puppy small bites” for my Cav. King Charles Spaniel? I am in Beaverton, Or.

    Thank you, Deb.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Avi… The company that makes VF Complete was recently (September 2010) re-structured and goes under the name Ainsworth Pet Nutrition. They appear to have taken down their old website and look to be in the process of opening a new one for all their products. So, stay tuned.

  • Avi

    Hi, i have been trying to order online the VF Complete Turkey and Rice Formula ( 18kg bag ) but couldn’t find it anywhere on the web. Will be grateful to get a link or an address.

    Thanks

    Avi

  • paul ballew

    I AM GLAD TO HAVE FINALLY FOUND A DOG FOOD THAT ALL OF MY FOUR DOGS WILL EAT, AND IS GOOD FOR THEM. I USE THE VF CHICKEN AND RICE. I ALSO LIKE THAT THE KIBBLE IS SMALL ENOUGH FOR MY SMALL DOG TO EAT. THANKS FOR THE PRODUCT.