Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition rolled dog food gets the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition product line includes two rolled dog foods, 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 Balanced Nutrition Turkey Recipe
- Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Chicken Recipe
Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Turkey Recipe was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.
Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Turkey Recipe
Rolled Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Turkey, turkey liver, turkey broth, eggs, peas, carrots, brown rice, rice bran, carrageenan, salt, natural flavors, dried kelp, flaxseed oil, inulin, vitamins: choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, biotin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, minerals: dicalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.3%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||35%||29%||27%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||53%||21%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is turkey. Turkey is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of turkey”.1
Turkey is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is turkey liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The third ingredient is turkey broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common addition component in many canned products.
The fourth ingredient includes eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The fifth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The sixth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The seventh ingredient 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 eighth ingredient is 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.
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, 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.
Next, flaxseed oil is one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids — essential to a dog’s health.
In addition, 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.
Balanced Nutrition Rolled Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition 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.
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 80%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical rolled dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a rolled product containing an above-average amount of meat.
Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition rolled dog food is a meat-based product using an above-average amount of turkey or chicken as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
However, with 53% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 27% 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.
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.
A Final Word
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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.
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Notes and Updates
03/05/2015 Last Update
- Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, Official Publication, 2008 Edition ↩