Freshpet Vital Grain Free Complete Meals (Pouch)


Rating: ★★★★½

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Complete Meals Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Freshpet Vital Grain Free Complete Meals product line includes 2 pouched 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.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • Vital Grain Free Beef and Lamb (4 stars) [A]
  • Vital Grain Free Chicken, Beef, Salmon and Egg (5 stars) [A]

Vital Grain Free Chicken, Beef, Salmon and Egg was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Vital Grain Free Chicken, Beef, Salmon and Egg Recipe

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 49% | Fat = 26% | Carbs = 18%

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, beef, salmon, eggs, cranberries, spinach, peas, natural flavors, salt, vinegar, carrageenan, inulin, beta-carotene, dried ground pomegranate, dried ground broccoli, 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) = 4.3%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis17%9%NA
Dry Matter Basis49%26%18%
Calorie Weighted Basis38%49%14%
Protein = 38% | Fat = 49% | Carbs = 14%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1

Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The third ingredient is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The fourth ingredient 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 fifth ingredient includes eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

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

The seventh ingredient is spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score3 of 91.

The eighth 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.

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, 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, 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 Complete Meals Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Grain Free Complete Meals looks like an above-average wet 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 49%, a fat level of 26% and estimated carbohydrates of about 18%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 43% and a mean fat level of 27%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 22% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a moist product containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Complete Meals is a meat-based wet dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly 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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Dog Food Coupons
and Discounts

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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 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

01/23/2018 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  3. Completeness Score is a measure of a food’s relative nutrient content and is computed by from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
  • JamesinDenver

    Some animal studies have linked degraded forms of carrageenan (the type not used in food) to ulcerations and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. … That’s a problem since chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.

  • Jeanne Alter

    We have a Border Collie, and a Miniature Australian Shepherd. They are 9 and 8 respectively, and up until last year we fed them Pedigree which both seemed to like equally well.

    Then my husband decided to try Rachel Ray’s Nutrish… That went over even better. I always added hot water to their kibble and some type of canned dog food to add their drugs since our Aussie could always tell they were there if I didn’t.

    About the same time last year that my husband brought home the Nutrish, he also started picking up the bags of FreshPet, then we switched to the humongous logs.

    Both dogs seem to love the combination of kibble and FreshPet, with hot water to make a little slurry that coats the kibble. Vickie, our Aussie, never notices her worst pills, and their weight seems to be staying steady which pleases our vet.

    I’ve never had any trouble with the FreshPet going bad because the first thing I discovered when we brought it home was the short shelf life of only a week, so we keep it in the coldest part of the fridge, and only cut slices off from one end. It lasts just slightly longer than a week because we keep it tightly sealed between uses.

    We definitely think it’s worth the extra expense for our two dogs if only because now we are assured they are eating all their own food, and their medication separately.

    We pay about $12.00 for the extra large rolls at Wal-Mart, and slightly less at the Air Force Commissary. That doesn’t seem like a big expense to us. Nutrish costs $19.00 but as I said, they really like the multiple varieties of flavors available.

    I can give them the dry kibble alone with hot water and they still eat it up as if there is no tomorrow.

    I am glad I never tried Blue Buffalo. I was always tempted to try it, but just never did.

  • HeyEph

    At 50% more expensive than the FreshPet Select Grain Free pouch, is the addition of a couple extra proteins (beef and salmon) and inulin worth it?

  • Andrea P

    The package list a expiration date if not opened and a advisory to use product within 7 day’s after opening the product.

  • cyberb0b

    No it has not.

  • DJ Arcen

    I recently bought some FreshPet Vital at PetSmart.
    My dog had diarrhea for the next three days. The third day the diarrhea was bloody, so I rushed him to the vet.
    After a full exam and numerous tests, my vet could not find anything wrong with my dog, and suspected the something he ate was the likely cause. The bill was $185.
    I came home and proceeded to check the food. It looked a little pale but nothing out of the ordinary
    Then I poured some in a bowl and to my surprise a baseball size clump of molded food felt into the bowl.
    I immediately called the Veterinarian and then went straight to Petsmart to get a refund and try to make them pay for my veterinarian bill.
    I asked the manager at Petsmart and they said that although a recall hasn’t been issue for this food there is a press release saying that mold has been found on this food.
    Finally a representative from FreshPet called and she agree to pay for my vet bill.

    Be warned.

  • Crazy4dogs

    These are small pieces of food about the size of a small grape. The rolls might work better.

  • berniemom

    What’s the consistency? I’m looking for a very soft food for a Chihuahua with no teeth, any ideas?

  • LS

    I really like this food–My dog loves it, too! It’s quick and easy, and a great meal when it’s super hot (because it’s refrigerated…you can also freeze a couple as treats).

    For my 55lb dog one bag ($36) only lasts a week, that’s the only bummer. That said, it lasts longer than any of the freeze-dried raw diets I’ve bought like Primal, Stella & Chewy’s, etc.! I do wish it was sold in more places, it’s hard to find where I live.

    Also, my dogs stools are TINY on this food. My cats have bigger stool!

  • LS

    Some dairy dairy products do, yes. Kefir is also a great probiotic! 🙂

  • Crazy4cats

    I didn’t realize cottage cheese contained probiotics?

  • LS

    You probably should with ANY food, even raw. Occasional plain yogurt and cottage cheese are great, as well as Forti Flora.

  • Christine Daley

    Try natures variety raw frozen kibble. Easy to feed. No carnageenan which has been linked to cancer!!

  • Jan_Mom2Cavs

    I just started adding Fresh Pet Vital grain free complete meals to my dogs’ feeding regimen. In the morning they get kibble and canned plus probiotics and their evening meal is Fresh Pet Vital. They are still doing fine with this regimen. I noticed that the ingredient panel on my bag is slightly different than listed above. There is no carmel coloring or flavoring added now and some of the ingredients are in a totally different order. I feel pretty good about offering this food. I feel it’s better than most canned foods and a little easier than feeding raw, which helps when someone other than me has to feed them. It does contain carageenan, which I’m not too happy about and I have been trying to avoid. It’s hard to find canned foods without it, as well, though I am some without it. I am also feeding the cat formula to my cat, who loves it, too. It’s kinda pricey but I since I have small dogs and just one cat I’ll spring for it.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Akex –

    In my opinion, based on what I know about it, Freshpet appears to be a great product. I feel that it’s preferable to kibble and canned products as it’s less processed. While all the Freshpet formulas look great, I think their Vital line looks like the best.

    There was just a fairly in-depth discussion about Freshpet on the slice and serve thread not too long ago if you want to check it out to see some other opinions:

  • Akex

    Hi Hound Dog Mom
    Thanks for the help on the party animal section. So I was in petco last night picking up the wellness core and merrick cans you mentioned were good options and saw this food. I think it’s new formula or just a new tan bag as opposed to the green bag I saw previously. Well it looked like a fabulous food. I love the look ( like little meatballs) and little processing supposedly. Should I consider this and how would it rank in the dry/canned/ dehydrated/ home cooked hierarchy. Its pricey but the grainfree ingrediants looked great. Also don’t know if the manufacture is good. I hope you see this and reply.

  • Ghgf

    Mmmikkeee is a goat in his white coat

  • Fgfdt

    If you speak the truth Mmiikkee from Virginia will trash ypu like a Gorilla and chew you up like vanilla

  • Gfdcc

    The first amendment right is only known for a clone

  • Gfdcc

    Or how about some potatos,gluten or tomatos

  • Gfdcc

    Shawwwwnnnaa please gimme some peas

  • Cfxc

    We dont want the attention but the truth to be mentioned

  • Fgfdt

    The can’t controll the troll who is on a roll

  • Gfdcc

    They deleted the vet bc he made him sweat

  • Fgfdt

    They mock aroun the clock and block

  • Cgdxc

    They delete and mistreat

  • George

    You’re everywhere stop stalking you don’t have the credentials

  • Jjennilee Flowerbuddys

    ya i went and read up abit about it interesting … is it best to have a vet suggest brand, amt etc? is it better for some breeds than others if you know

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Milk thistle is a flower in the Aster family that’s given supplementally to help support liver health. It contains a component called silymarin (a flavonolignan) which may help protect the liver and even repair it to some extent.

  • Jjennilee Flowerbuddys

    ya my dogs wont touch blue buffalo so I have been making a home dog food of chicken egg and rice with vitamins as I search out someting better.. I am between this and the kirkland

  • Jjennilee Flowerbuddys

    what is milk thistle ?

  • Lucasbower

    nice food for dog

  • Peggy Palma

    Linda, for a dog who is 10 years old, I would not blame the dog food. My dog had a liver shunt (there are congenital and acquired shunts). He was too old to put through an operation. He eventually had a seizure and confusion, which was scary (hepatic encephalopathy). I started cooking for him, and giving SamE, and he did well for years. You can find recipes on line. I based mine on rice, eggs, and chicken. Dogs with liver conditions can get confused when eating too much meat, but still need a good quality protein like eggs.

  • Linda Koesters

    Did some research, Pam and found that indeed a lot of people have found that they have had their pet (dogs & cats alike) that have developed liver and kidney problems after eating Blue Buffalo.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Loads and loads of people have been reporting problems with their dogs on BB, please call the company and tell them about your issues with their food.

  • Linda Koesters

    Thanks everyone. I had actually read about the milk thistle and thought I would give it a try. Since I just found out today that her liver numbers were up, we are very early in this process. I switched her to this Petfresh Vital Complete Meal (which she loves!) and I’m hoping that by cutting out the junk and feeding her this whole food with the milk thistle, we should at least get those numbers back down. The vet is going to put her on antibiotics and give it three weeks and then check her numbers again.

  • Joe

    Hi, I found this website and thought I share.Good health to your dog!

    The 4Rs Solution:

    1) Remove: Abnormal kinds/amounts of intestinal microorganisms (parasites, bacterial pathogens, small intestinal overgrowth such as yeast, and food antigens). This can be done by repairing “leaky” intestinal membranes.

    2) Replace: Hydrochloric acid, enzymes, and fiber deficiency can be addressed and replaced with friendly bacteria, digestive enzymes and fiber supplements.

    3) Restore: Symbiotic bacteria and GI bacteria through the use of full spectrum friendly bacteria (L. acidophilus, B. bifidus, L. planetarium, L. salivarius, L. bulgaricus, etc.)

    4) Repair: Replace or augment with nutrients necessary to support healing of intestinal lining, plus adequacy of calories, and adequacy of fiber. Support the liver detoxification system through the use of antioxidants and food based nutritional supplements (pp. 181-182).

    The 4 R’s are a great process for the treatment of bladder, kidney and liver diseases.

  • Pam c

    Oops i forgot to also mention milk thistle. Obviously if you’re interested in getting your dog supplements you should run it by your vet so you get proper dosing and to make sure you’re not doing any harm.

  • Pam c

    Well I would look up to see if anyone else has reported liver problems while eating Blue Buffalo Sr. In the past, Blue Buffalo had recalls for high levels of Vitamin D in their dog food.

    (I had to put my last dog down about 1 1/2 years ago. She wanted to eat and eat…the vet just told me to cut back her food intake…she ended up having Cushings Disease and liver problems. I didn’t find this out until it was too late.
    Vet sugggested fish oil, sam-e, and glucosamine for joints, and antibiotics. They didn’t suggest a specific food–just a senior dog food.)

    You do not need senior dog food. And I’m pretty sure everyone here at DFA will agree. I’m not an expert but it looks like the canned food is a pretty good choice except for maybe the salt. But I’d wait for someone else to comment.

    Good luck! I hope your dog stays healthy.

  • Linda Koesters

    She’s 10 and I had been feeding her Blue Buffalo Senior dry.

  • Pam c

    What were you feeding her before?

  • Linda Koesters

    My dog was recently having issues regarding vomiting. I have now been feeding her this for about a week and it seems to have cleared up and she seems to be acting normally. I took her to the vet just to check her out and be sure. After her blood work came back her liver numbers were WAY up. The vet wants to now put her on antibiotics, perhaps an x-ray, and blah, blah, blah. This is going to get WAY expensive! Any way, I’m wondering if you feel I should keep her on this food since she seems to be responding rather well to it, or if you would recommend something else for a dog with liver issues. Thanks!

  • AussieX3

    We have two eight year old female Australian Shepherd litter mates. One has long suffered from delicate digestion (diarrhea when insulted) and UTIs, plus overweight. The other has occasional bouts of vomiting after eating, then drinking water. Both get bored with their food easily and will turn their noses up at reruns.

    We started feeding Natural Balance canned after the 2007 melamine recalls, alternating Natural Balance, Paul Newman, and 365 dry. Around the time Natural Balance was bought by Del Monte (I didn’t know), our lady of the delicate digestion started experiencing chronic diarrhea and the vomit-er was vomiting more often (every other day). We noticed the canned food seemed less consistent in its qualities, runnier, smellier, etc.

    Since, we’ve been experimenting with various brands. I had been feeding (for several weeks) Wellness Core original dry and various Wellness canned, including stew, to the puker. She is 4 weeks post CCL surgery and 5 weeks post hypothyroid diagnosis.

    A few days ago I picked up some Freshpet Vital Complete Meals, and puker loves it (they are separated now due to puker’s CCL surgery). However, her stools are huge in comparison to Wellness and previous diets. Her coat is starting to look better on Freshpet Vital in just a few days. She was quite flaky/dry post surgically and on Wellness. I’m not sure whether to attribute this to the thyroxine, the surgery, or the food.

    Our lady of the delicate digestion is still having the big D on Wellness canned and Paul Newman dry. It may be stress from separation from her litter-mate. They have never previously been separated.

  • Magwheelz

    Looks good..never heard of that one before.