Freshpet Vital Dog Food gets the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Freshpet Vital Dog Food product line includes five refrigerated rolls, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Freshpet Vital Turkey Recipe (3.5 stars)
- Freshpet Vital Lamb and Ocean Whitefish Recipe
- Freshpet Vital Bison and Beef Recipe (4.5 stars)
- Freshpet Vital Chicken, Beef, Salmon and Egg Recipe
- Freshpet Vital Salmon and Ocean Whitefish Recipe (4.5 stars)
Freshpet Vital Lamb and Ocean Whitefish Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Vital Lamb and Ocean Whitefish Recipe
Rolled Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb, ocean whitefish, lamb liver, spinach, cranberries, blueberries, carrageenan, natural flavors, sunflower oil, inulin, broccoli, pomegranate, choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, biotin, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, calcium sulfate, dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, tricalcium phosphate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.2%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||39%||35%||18%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||28%||60%||13%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Lamb is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” lamb and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1
Lamb is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is whitefish, a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast. fish. This item is typically sourced from clean, undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings of commercial fish operations.2
Without more detailed information, it’s difficult to judge the quality of this particular ingredient
In any case, fish meat is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The third ingredient is lamb liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fourth ingredient is spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score3 of 91.
The next two items include two nutrient-rich fruits…
The seventh ingredient is carrageenan is 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.
After the natural flavors, we find 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 ninth ingredient is 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.
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 one notable exception…
This dog 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.
Freshpet Vital Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Dog Food looks like an above-average rolled 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 37% and a mean fat level of 29%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 26% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 78%.
Above-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 dog food containing an above-average amount of meat.
Freshpet Vital Dog Food is a meat-based rolled product using a generous amount of named species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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
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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.
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Notes and Updates
11/24/2010 Original review
08/22/2012 Review updated
06/26/2012 Review updated
06/26/2013 Last Update
- Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition ↩
- Adapted by The Dog Food Advisor from the official definition of other fish ingredients as published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- 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 ↩